Let's define what constitutes a superior wine. It's not necessarily the biggest, boldest wine on the table that's the best. It may be, but not because of its breadth or the "hair" growing on it. If the flavor profile of the wine demonstrates complexity with harmony in flavors, appropriate body and structure, and is balanced lengthwise from start to finish with demonstrative attributes at the beginning (nose), middle (palate), and a lasting pleasant finish when you exhale, then that's a superior wine. I also give bonus points for texture, including wininess and when appropriate, oiliness.
Twice in recent weeks we have tasted out the 2009 Abundance Cellars Abundantly Rich Red from Mencarini Family Winery in Lodi, California. I have sold this twelve dollar wine for years but, frankly, I never realized just how good it was. Maybe the current vintage is just better than the past vintages I have had.
The Lodi AVA is due east of San Francisco between Sacramento and Stockton. Thirty years ago Lodi was strictly jug wine country. Now 20% of all varietal wines from California come from there. It has become the "Languedoc" of California, meaning a whole lotta decent wine comes from there. The Mencarini family got started there in the early 1950s and the vines used for this wine were planted in 1961, which may explain in part why it tastes so good. A mission statement of sorts from the Mencarinis asserts that their goal has always been to provide high quality, yet affordable wines for the working people of America. I like that.
Abundantly Rich Red is a Carignane/Zinfandel blend. It features a dense, dark raspberry color with a nose of strawberry, plum, and evergreen and balanced long soft fruit flavors of plum and strawberry layered with oakiness, especially at the finish. Food affinities include: cheeses, pasta, and red meats.
So I include the Abundantly Rich Red review under the "less is more" heading because this is a wine that overperforms for its price point. I am not a natural fan of this kind of wine by the way. My take is that these kinds of California wines are often muddy, flabby (unstructured and lacking acidity), and unbalanced. ARR is not fine wine by any means but it's awfully nice for what it is and I would prefer it to many twenty dollar Zins.
In a different vein, on Friday October 4th we are tasting new Chileans on the market with Tommy Basham of Continental Beverage presenting. This Leyendas line features three reds and two whites, and they are all reported to be "reserve" quality examples. Please join us. Please become a follower here also so I won't embarrass my family by not being more successful at this.