Several months ago I reviewed a trio of wines from Rued Vineyards of Healdsburg, California. Recently I got the opportunity to try two more bottles from this Sonoma-area winery.
2006 Rued Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley, $25, 14.9% abv.
Spicy blackberry, deep and aromatic with hints of smoke and cedar. The blackberry flavor carries through, but it's really ripe and tart, with strong tannins and a long finish. Good choice if you're looking for a big California Zin; pair it with something strong like heavily seasoned pork or flank steak.
2007 Rued Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, $35, 14.3% abv.
Overripe strawberries with just a hint of banana in the background--slightly reminiscent of a Cru Beaujolais, even though we're talking about different grapes. While light and delicate in color this is a full-bodied Pinot Noir with firm tannins and an assertive finish. Lingering elements of strawberry and plum. I think it would be incredible with roast duck.
Whenever I sample wines, I try them straight without the external influences of food, toothpaste, or other potentially conflicting elements. And then I try them along with a meal, even if it's not a traditional pairing. Here the food ended up being burgers... but not just a sack of detritus from a fast food joint. I made 6 oz. patties out of high-quality beef, griddled them to medium while toasting the buttered buns, and served them with aged Vermont cheddar and fresh mesclun greens. Some homemade baked beans incorporating blackstrap molasses, Chinese five spice powder and Dijon mustard really brought out certain elements of the Zinfandel.
Neither of these wines are what I'd call a "pizza and burger" wine, but even something like the humble hamburger can be crafted with skill and care into a delicious meal, and a great wine will only amplify the experience.
In accordance with FTC regulations, I received this wine as a sample.