A tale of two wines.
It was the best of wines, it was the worst of wines; the reality was, both wines were pretty good, but thank you for allowing me to channel my inner Dickens. Stuff like this happens with me, why just the other day I was talking with Bard of Avon and said “To Drink or not to drink, that is an improbable proposition,” at which point William Shakespeare said, “Thank God, pour for two.” And of course with Shakespeare being only a spirit, I had to drink both glasses. Can you tell?
This week’s wines are “Seghesio” Sonoma Zinfandel, and Ombrato Primitivo from Puglia Italy. Some of you know that Primitivo is the Italian version of Zinfandel, and Zinfandel happens to be my favorite food group. We had some friends over for dinner and whenever there are enough people around to justify opening two bottles of wine, it almost certainly becomes an opportunity for a tasting. Let the games begin!
The Primitivo was off to an early lead winning the label competition. It’s black bottle paired a bright orange label with a really neat inscription: “It has passed into Proverb, that wisdom is overshadowed by wine,” by Pliny the Elder. I have quoted this Roman officer original encyclopedist before, I’m sure he knew what he was talking about. The Seghesio had an understated white label with Blue and Black script. I think my son’s philosophy shined through on this debate, “It’s orange, which means it’s the best.”
Both wines had good color, and it was here that the Seghesio started showing it superior terroir as it had a slightly deeper heart. Both wines were beautifully red and clear. On the nose the Seghesio again distinguished itself over the Ombrato. I caught the aroma of berries and pepper from the Seghesio, while the Ombrato was mostly silent on the nose, which was a little disappointing.
When we arrived at the first taste, what had started as a slight lead turned into a landslide victory. Again, the clear table favorite was the Seghesio. Even Josephine gave the wine a very infrequent thumbs up, which is an endorsement that makes Robert Parker blush. The Seghesio was medium-bodied, a little tannic, and while it had all the typical berries it was not as fruity as other Zin’s I have tasted. The Ombrato was lighter bodied, not nearly as full body as the Seghesio. The Ombrato was clearly being out-classed, it was a featherweight boxing a middleweight. The Ombrato fought hard and went all 15 rounds, and although there was no knockout the judges’ vote was unanimous, the clear winner was the Seghesio.
There really should be no surprise here; Sonoma is one of the premier terroirs of the world. The Seghesio family has been producing Zinfandel here since 1885. With four generations of winemaking experience the outcome was a forgone conclusion.
I think it’s only fitting to allow Mr. Dickens to have the last word, seeing how he’s traveled a century to be with us today. “Fan the sinking flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship; and pass the rosy wine.” Sure thing Mr. Dickens, here you go!