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Friday, October 8, 2010

Sandwich, MA: From Temptation to Redemption

Charlie’s weekly wine- ing

On a rainy Wednesday night, I went in search of new fall wines for wine tastings at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. The weekly wine tastin, sponsored by my friends at Cellar 55, had to move from the outside patio into the main restaurant at the Belfry Bistro in Sandwich, MA. The setting is unique in that it was a Catholic church built in the early 1900s and converted into a fine dinning restaurant about fifteen years ago. The building still has the stained wood cathedral ceiling and beautiful wood paneling through out. It is very obvious that it had been a church, which made the choice of wines being tasted either ironic or iconic.

I love red Zinfandel and in this case it would have been a sin to miss this Zin tasting in this church like venue. For many years it was believed that California Zinfandel was the only wine grape that originated in the United States. All other grapes could be traced back to plantings brought to these shores by the earliest settlers. For over a hundred years, it was believed that Zinfandel was indigenous to California. Recent modern DNA testing has proved it is related to the Italian Primitivo grape that can trace its origins as Croatian. Most likely early Italian immigrants planted the first vines in the 1800s. The grapes of these old vines often ripen unevenly with some berries reaching very high sugar levels, which can produce wines with 17% alcohol. Maybe that is one of the reasons I have always liked red Zinfandel. I stress “red” because the sweet Sutter Home “White Zinfandel” may have been a marketing and
financial success, but it is not real Zinfandel as far as I am concerned. That may be way too much history, but it is all part of what I love about wine and wine tastings.

 Dave from Cellar 55 and Polly from Classic Wine Imports selected four great California Zins for the tasting. The first three were Alexander Valley Vineyard’s wines made from grapes sourced from three different sub-regions of Sonoma County. The last wine was from Lodi California, which is south of Sacramento and a much dryer and hotter climate than Sonoma. As Polly said, the four wines show how the same grape can produce very different results based on where it is grown and how the wine maker processes the grapes after harvest.

We started with the Alexander Valley 2007 Temptation Zinfandel (Sonoma County), then their 2007 Sin Zin (Alexander Valley) and next the 2006 Redemption (Dry Creek Valley). Alexander Valley Vineyards has been making great Zinfandels for over twenty-five years and these three show the great range of flavors that can be produced from this grape even though they all come from Sonoma County. 

The last wine of the night was the 2007 7 Deadly Zins from the Michael & David Family of Wines. Brothers  Michael and David Phillips' family has been farming in Lodi since 1860 and own some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in the country. They selected the best from seven vineyards for this wine. They offer this pray on their website:
Schulenburg's vines, grubby with GREED,
Embrace Lodi's soil, to drink and to feed.
Oh Lord, forgive me my zin.
Secure in it's strength, weathered with PRIDE,
Standing like soldiers, the forest of Snyde.
Oh Lord, forgive me my zin.
Hearts filled with LUST, ole Maley's trees.
Court Lodi's sun, and flirt with it's breeze.
Oh Lord, forgive me my zin.
Good Bishofberger did raise some GLUTTONOUS beast,
Vines fattened like turkeys before Thanksgiving feast.
Oh Lord, forgive me my zin.
With the tilt of the glass, I commit seven zins,
  Oh Lord, with your help... I'll do it again.

What a trip, from temptation to redemption, all in one night. The names and labels alone were worth the price of admission. 

Happy wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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