PICK of the RACK: The Federalist | Zinfandel | Dry Creek Valley | Sonoma County | California | 2011 | $23 (Avg.) | 90 pts

federalist-visionary-zinfandel-dry-creek-valley-usa-10340126Here is an intriguing and unconventional Zinfandel from Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley that offers much complexity and individuality at a modest price. This is no jammy fruit bomb; it is driven, rather,  by savory earth, spice, and botanical  impressions — notably aromas of campfire, smoked meat, and incense followed by flavors of black tea, bitters, bay leaf, and graphite. Layers of blackberry and cranberry compote sneak-in on the back end, paving the way to a mouth-watering finish. The wine is medium to full-bodied, with dusty tannins, modest acids, and peppery oak. (It aged for 16 months in oak barrels, 20% new.) If you care to try a Zinfandel that bravely veers off the variety’s beaten path — and yet manages to be quite delicious — you should enjoy this wine. Serve it with smoked cheeses, barbeque, grilled meats and fish, stuffed peppers, and other smoked and spicy fare.

(Composition: 98% Zinfandel, 2% Carignan | Production: 8,000 cases | ABV: 14.9%)

Availability: The Federalist is nationally distributed, and can be found with some regularity at fine wine shops and grocers. Ask your favorite wine merchant about it, or visit www.terlatowines.com for information on where you may find the wine in your area.

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