Not sure who does or doesn’t know this about me,1 but I earned a B.A. in Political Science. I’m a bit of a political junkie, an armchair pundit, and a student of American history. So while dining at the Napa Rose restaurant in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland, upon spying a bottle of Dry Creek Valley zinfandel with the name “The Federalist Visionary,” I had to give it a shot.
I’m normally a fan of Dry Creek zin, and when the bottle arrived at the table with a shot of Alexander Hamilton’s mug plastered on the side, I really hoped I would like the wine. As modern poet Ben Folds says, “There’ll be times you like the cover, and that’s precisely why you’ll love the book.”2
Luckily for me,3 as much as I liked the cover, I loved the wine for what was in the bottle, and not what was attached to the outside.
I find that people tend to be one of two types of zin drinkers, assuming first that they like zin at all. There are the central valley, Lodi zins, exemplified by the former Bonny Doon bestseller, Cardinal Zin, and the vintner’s blend from the Lodi area, 7 Deadly Zins.
These are high alcohol, very spicy, big bold wines. They’re awesome in their way, and go great with spiced pork and barbecue dishes in a way other wins simply wouldn’t.
The other zin, in my opinion, is the Sonoma zin, found mostly in the Dry Creek Valley and the Russian River Valley. A bit subtler, quite a bit fruitier, with less spice and less alcohol, usually. This is my kind of zin. I’ll drink either, and I’ll enjoy both, but given my druthers I’ll take DCV over Lodi in a heartbeat.
The 2009 Federalist Visionary Zinfandel lives right up to my expectations for a Dry Creek Valley zin. In the glass, it’s very dark, sort of a violet overall, but upon close inspection, you get a lilac element as the wine thins to the edges, and a blood-black center that is more than a little enticing.
On the nose, there is a hint of smoke, subtle, but immediately shunted aside for fruit notes of raspberry, cherry, and black cherry. The smoke doesn’t leave entirely, hanging out on your olfactory bulbs as more of a cedar note after its initial impression.
This zin is smooth. Sooooo smooth. It feels full in the mouth, with just enough acid to keep from falling over. The wine is clean on the palate, and the dominant notes are not unfamiliar after the nose, but altered slightly: raspberry, strawberry, and a cherry jam element sit up front, but our old friend smoke is there in a bright way, an outdoorsy, clean forest campfire kind of element, that just sits partially hidden under the surface of all that fruit.
It’s delicious. Not particularly complex, but delicious. It’s a great wine at the price, and I can highly recommend it.
Price Point: $18-$23