Monday, May 31, 2021

Grilled Ribs and a unique Big Red Zin

Grilled Ribs and a unique Big Red Zinfandel wine 

For Memorial Day dinner Linda and son Alec (still bach'ing it for another day) grilled ribs with asparagus and sweet corn. We were joined by son Sean and wife Michelle. 

I pulled from the cellar this interesting unique bottling of Zinfandel aged in Bourbon Barrel. I wrote about this last year when we discovered this and served it last winter in a similar setting and wrote about it in this blogpost: Carpenter Creek Cellars Bourbon Barrel Zinfandel.

This was fun and interesting to compare with the unique Dueling Pistols Zin-Syrah Blend that we had left over from the previous evening. The Zinfandel wasn't as big or bold as the Zinfandel which was more focused than the blend was, as I wrote, a bit obtuse and angular. The Zin provided easier sipping, more harmonious with the balanced dinner.

Carpenter Creek Cellars Bourbon Barrel Zinfandel 2017

I featured Carpenter Creek Cellars from north central Indiana in an earlier post in these pages when we visited the winery and discovered their wines. They acquire grapes from growers throughout the midwest, California, and also grow some of their own. 

For this Zinfandel varietal selection, they obtained grapes from northern California sources, and aged the wine in used Bourbon Barrels. As I wrote that winter, the result was infusing an exotic smokiness and liquor layer that when combined with the full forward Zinfandel fruits accentuated and highlighted the tangy barbecue wonderfully. 

This label release from Carpenter Creek Cellars features a striking gold label packaging, the first indication that there is something special going on here.

Garnet colored, slightly opaque, medium-full-bodied, black fruits accented by clove spice, smoke, caramel, vanilla, and hints of black pepper and cocoa. An extraordinary pairing with with the BBQ.

RM 91 points.




A Vineyard In Napa by Doug Shafer

A Vineyard In Napa chronicles the founding and history of Shafer Vineyards in Napa Valley 

I spent my Memorial Day immersed in the book A Vineyard In Napa by Doug Shafer. I had purchased it a while back but saved it for when I could devote a block of time to sit back, relax and enjoy, as I tend to do when I immerse myself in a book - I read it in the one sitting. It was that good, worthy of the invested time.

This is about the life of John Shafer, a Chicago businessman, and his pursuit of a dream when he decided to pursue a second career by buying a plot of land that included a vineyard in Napa Valley back in the early seventies. He moved his family from their comfortable suburban lifestyle in an adjacent suburb from here, to a remote mountainside farmstead in rural northern California, and set upon developing vineyards, and ultimately, building a winery, a business and a brand.

With no prior experience or knowledge of farming, viticulture or winemaking, over the next forty years, he rode the roller coaster of the evolving Napa Valley wine business, and built an incredibly successful brand and business, one that distinguished wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. called “one of the world’s greatest wineries.” 

The book, narrated by Shafer’s son Doug, follows their dual careers as they lived the history of Napa Valley and the American California wine business. Through it they learned the challenges, travails, science, technology and handicraft of planting and growing grapes, crafting wines, and building a brand and wine business- the three legs of the stool, as they called it.

It follows the history of Napa Valley and the Shafers and the myriad of friendships and collaboration of the many farmers, growers, producers, winemakers, critics, distributors, restaurateurs and others in the trade they encountered along the way and that made the journey with them. 

Its a history book, a human interest story as well as a business book, and a journal of winemaking and marketing, balancing and folding all together in an enjoyable intriguing well paced story.

The only thing missing is a companion parallel wine tasting of the many Shafer wines in the portfolio that are chronicled in the book, ones that we hold in our cellar. The insights and background will add immeasurably to the enjoyment of these wines when and as we explore them.