Monday, September 13, 2010

Local Beer, Foreign Wine. (Zinfatuation)

Beer!  Beer was the theme of the weekend.  When old friends visit it seems beer is usually the first and last listing on the menu for any given night.  We start early and finish early, mostly as a result of starting to early.  The palate’s of this particular group of friends has always impressed me.  Where as I often have friends who reach for the big names in beer: Canadian, Bud, Coors, etc…  this particular group of friends would mock such a choice.  When I told my friend Connor that I often order Canadian at bars his jaw dropped.  I explained to him that I have a very good reason for doing so; Canadian is always the cheapest beer at a bar, generally this means it’s the only beer I can afford.  Connor remained unimpressed.

Connor is the foremost beer aficionado of the group.  His tastes tend to steer him in the direction of well-hopped IPA’s.  He goes for local, which could be because there is limited, if any, selection of national or international IPA’s available at most liquor stores around BC, or maybe he just likes local.  Connor’s top three picks for finely crafted IPAs include Tree Brew Hop Head, Phillips Hop Circle, and Hopwork IPA.  His picks are all beers that I will have to get my hands on sooner rather than later.

Over the weekend Connor introduced me to a particularly tasty ale.  The beer: Phillips Surly Blonde.  This beer is a heavy hitter.  Packed with delicious malty flavours, with some nice hoppy notes that add a bubble gum type character.  Surly Blonde tips the scales at 9.1% alc.  Drink with caution!

Zinfandel! (I later learned the exclamation mark is unwarranted)  I picked up Zin·fat·u·a·tion from the liquor store a few days ago, it ran me about $16 and it came with a free wine tote bag.  I had never seen nor heard of Zinfatuation before: it was a gamble.  The wine is by and large made from the Zinfandel grape, which until recently was exclusively grown in California.  There is a slight exception to this Italy grows a grape that is called Primativo, which was recently discovered to be genetically identical to Zinfandel.  To me that would seem that they are the same grape, to the store owner that was explaining this to me it means no such thing.  One way or another Primativo and Zinfandel are very similar grapes, if not the same.  Depending on how you look at it and how much you know about genetics Italy may or may not be growing Zinfandel.  California and for the sake of argument Italy, until recently, had a monopoly on the Zinfandel grape.  I have in the last month heard of, or seen 2 Zinfandels grown in different regions: Kangarilla Road Black St Peters Zinfandel from the McLaren Vale, Australia, and Inniskillin Zinfandel from the Okanagan Valley, BC.  The possibility of Zinfandel moving outside of California is an exciting proposition.  If you know of any others please let me know!

Zinfatuation is grown in Amador County, home to California’s oldest vineyard according to, dating back to 1856.  Until I picked up this wine I had never heard of Amador County.  As it turns out Zinfandel is the most widely grown grape in Amador.  Being a huge Zin enthusiast I was surprised I had never heard of this County. Strolling through a vineyard in the Amador, located in the picturesque Sierra Foothills, it would not be surprising to encounter Syrah (Shiraz), Grenache, and Viognier Grapes.  Excluding Zinfandel Amador tends to grow grapes that are traditionally grown in Rhone, France.  Might be interesting to compare a few wines from the two regions and see how California can stack up against the mighty Rhone.  If someone endeavours on such a project please let me know, if not I suppose I could take up this task myself!

Wine: Zin·fat·u·a·tion

Grape: Zinfandel 83%, Barbera 10%, Syrah 7%

Region: Amador County, California.

Year: 2008

Alcohol: 13.8% by vol.

Price: $15.99

Aroma: Blackberry, Oak, Pepper

Taste: Blackberry, Clove, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Chocolate

Notes: I found there was a little too much tannin for the rest of the wine to support.  The body was medium however i still found it a little thin.  Overall it was not a terribly interesting wine but it was decent.  

Final Verdict: The price is a little high for its quality.  For five or six dollars less I would consider getting this wine again.  I'm moving to a letter grading system this post, and I will give this wine a B- it wasn't terrible but wasn't great either.


  1. I'm steering away from this one. It might taint my excessive love of Zin.

  2. Probably a good call. It also says on the bottle "exclusively for world market" maybe they just export all their so-so wine keep the good stuff for themselves.