PICK of the RACK: Shannon Ridge | “Home Ranch – Two Bud Block” Zinfandel | High Valley AVA | Lake County | California | 2008 | $25 | 90 pts

Aromas:  boysenberry; cherry pie filling; cinnamon
Character:  rich & fruit forward; zesty & juicy; medium-bodied; medium acids & soft tannins; soft, unobtrusive oak
Flavors:  raspberry and blackberry jam; vanilla bean; red licorice; chocolate covered cherry; black pepper & baking spices
Food Pairing:  pizza; tomato-based pasta dishes; saucy barbecue

During our visit to Lake County, California, last summer, we discovered the wines of Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery at their quaint tasting room in the hamlet of Clearlake Oaks by the banks of sprawling Clear Lake (the largest natural fresh water lake in California).  Like many Lake County wines, Shannon Ridge bottlings are strikingly fresh and unpretentious, offering admirable quality and personality at reasonable prices. This Zinfandel – sourced from the “Two Bud Block” of their Caldwell Ranch vineyard in the mountainous High Valley AVA  above Clear Lake – is particularly appealing, brimming with zesty red and black fruit and spice aromas and flavors that are luscious and palate warming.  It’s highly quaffable on its own, but will pair well with saucy barbecue, pizza, and other meaty tomato-based dishes.  In our opinion, this Lake County Zinfandel (which, by the way, benefits from a 5% dollop of Petite Sirah), can proudly hold its own against some of the best Zins from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Paso Robles (San Luis Obispo County), and is a tremendous value at $25 dollars the bottle.

Availability:  Shannon Ridge produced only 953 cases of this Zin, so it’s not a wine you’re likely to find at your local wine shop.  Ask your favorite wine merchant, though, as they might be able to order it for you.  If you’d rather find it yourself, it is – like many wines we recommend on this site – a wine that can easily be obtained from the winery itself either in person or online.  It’ll be well worth your effort, so visit them at www.shannonridge.com.  (For this wine, click on “single vineyard collection.”)

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