If Mad Max settled down for a glass of red at the end of the day, it would probably be Zinfandel.
The grape synonymous with Harley Davidsons, rock music and Cali-cool has a feminine side too. Zinfandel is often a monster red reaching high levels of alcohol, but can be more restrained and elegant.
A cousin of the southern Italian variety Primitivo (and now thought to originate from Croatia), the characteristics of Zinfandel are ripe fruit, soft tannins and distinctively, an herbaceous edge. Even when varietally labelled, it is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Petit Sirah.
One of the top Californian wine producers Hahn Family Wines has just released a new Zinfandel called Boneshaker. The pretty white on black label of a bicycle and parts pattern is apparently very popular with cyclists as well as the usual biker fraternity.
Hahn is based in Monterey, a high quality, coastal region between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with a long growing season due to moderating ocean influence. They make elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under the Cycles Gladiator and Hahn labels as well as premium, single vineyard lines Lucienne and Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon. Lodi is the main area for growing Zinfandel, with the 2 oldest vineyards providing the fruit for Boneshaker.
Hahn held a press tasting at US-style brasserie Automat in Dover St, London recently to highlight the wines’ affinity to seasonal tapas-style food. Three top matches from the tasting lunch were:
Hahn Winery Chardonnay, £13.90, stockists include Spirited Wines. Lobster and Chardonnay are always a great match due to compatible density and weight. A ripe, tropical fruit-flavoured wine with neutral oak giving texture and mouthfeel. Perfect with a delicious, elegant lobster ‘cappucino’.
Hahn Winery Pinot Noir, £12.99, stockists include Corks Out. ‘Sweet’, ripe fruit with gentle, smoky, oak influence. Pinot Noir is always a go-to for fungi dishes. This was superb alongside a classic, creamy wild mushroom risotto with parmesan.
Boneshaker Zinfandel, £19.99, stockists coming shortly (see Patriarche). A lighter style Zin, blended with 15% total of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Sirah. Matched with possibly the best chocolate pudding of the year, Syrah flavoured ganache with intense raspberry fruit purée.
For more info on Zinfandel see ZAP and on Californian wines, see Wines of California. For info on all their wines and the estate, see Hahn Family Estates website.
(photo – nicoyogui)