Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Federalist Visionary Zinfandel

Alexander Hamilton's face on a ten-dollar bill is something we are accustomed to seeing, but on a wine label, not so much.  The Federalist Visionary Zinfandel features the founding father's face on the label, presumably as a tip of the three-cornered hat to the guys who helped shape the Constitution of this place we call America.

You'll need two of Hamilton's likenesses on paper money to buy one on the label of this wine, and I had it for $15 by the glass at the always amazing Napa Rose in Disneyland's Grand Californian Hotel.

This Zinfandel is produced from grapes grown on a vineyard in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley.  The vineyard is owned by the Terlato Family and the vines are new.


The Federalist Visionary Zin came as a great capper to a day at Disneyland.  As usual, we hit Napa Rose a couple of minutes before the 5:00 p.m. opening and took a seat in the lounge.

This single-vineyard Zinfandel shows a big, fruity nose and a bit of alcohol, which blows off in about 15 minutes.  The mouthfeel is a little thin for my taste, but the brambly, spicy blackberry flavor carries on for quite a lengthy finish.  The effect of the oak is apparent, but not overdone.

Beaulieu Vineyards Chardonnay CarnerosMy wife was in the mood to linger for a while, so we ordered a cheese platter and I enjoyed an '08 Beaulieu Vineyards Chardonnay from the Carneros region.  A bit of oak appears in this one, but it's nice and balanced in the old California Chardonnay style.


That BV Chardonnay paired best with a buttery triple-crème cow's milk cheese from Normandy, Brillat-Savarin.  Add a touch of sweetness - the walnut-cranberry bread was fine - and it's quite a mouthful.

Going the other way, the Tête de Moine from the Jara region in Switzerland was my next favorite pairing with the Chardonnay.  This "stinky cheese" is also made from cow's milk, and its sharp, nutty flavor played a counterpoint to the creaminess of the wine.  It would really "wow" with a late-harvest Viognier, perhaps.

Honorable mention goes to the Garrotxa, a goat's milk cheese from Catalonia, Spain and the Roaring Forties Blue from Australia's King Island Dairy.

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