Friday, September 19, 2014

Rattle Them Oak Bones With Boneshaker Zinfandel

Boneshaker Zinfandel - the name is taken from the feel of the ride on a wrought iron bicycle - promises no smoothness, no elegance, no finesse.  Basically, it promises to whack you in the head with an oak barrel stave as you ride by, drunk, on your wrought iron bicycle.  If a bicycle shakes my bones, that's one thing.  It's another entirely when a wine does it.  If the ride on a wine is that rough, I'll leave it for the college crowd - I graduated from that class magna cum gahdahm laude, as David Bromberg sang.

An unusual blend, the 2012 Boneshaker is made from Lodi grapes, 88% Zinfandel and and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It retails for $19.

The two things that make the Boneshaker ride so memorable are alcohol and oak.  15% alcohol content is a little more than I usually like in a wine unless it's a Port, and in that case I want a little more.  Boneshaker also spends over a year in French oak barrels, 70% of which are new.  A barrel made of new oak leaves its mark on a wine much more forcefully than does a barrel that has been used before.  The back label encourages us to "Feel It," so here goes.

This deep ruby wine sports a great nose.  Stick your nose into the glass and you get enough black pepper to prompt a sneeze.  Very dark fruit - blackberry, black cherry, plum - is mated with some fairly forceful oak effect that shoves a toasty barrel stave right into your face.  Not that that's a bad thing, if that's what you like.  The palate goes down the same tree-lined path, with big sweet fruit, big sweet oak and big sweet tannins.  Big is the operative word here, and that may actually fall short as a descriptor.

If I say Boneshaker Zinfandel is oaky to a fault, you could say, "Great!" if you like your Zinfandel to sprout acorns.  Of course, you might also say, "Too much oak is a fault!"  To which fans of the wine could respond, "Not if it's on purpose!" or some such witticism.  Hopefully a discourse of this nature won't degrade into a war of "Is too!" and "I know you are but what am I!" and "Mom, he's hitting me with the barrel stave again!"

Despite my predisposition against a wine this oaky, I can't help but admit it was fun to drink.  I think of it as the wine equivalent of eating candy instead carrots - a guilty pleasure.

The nice folks at Hahn Family Wines say Boneshaker is great when paired with a roast porchetta sandwich or Texas style chuck chili, although both of those dishes may be hard to handle while riding a wrought iron bicycle.

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