Thursday, December 29, 2011

Zefina Wines A Great Example of Horse Heaven Fruit

Located out in the far reaches of the Horse Heaven Hills is a vineyard named Alder Ridge. It is a beautiful place, although remote, where wine grapes are able to become all that they need to be in order to make great wines. Next door to the most highly acclaimed Champoux vineyards, where some of the Northwest’s most prestigious grapes are grown, Alder Ridge may not have the same geneology, but it isn’t bad either.

Enter a young, highly trained winemaker, whom I’ve written about before concerning his own private label “Thirsty Pagans”. Rob Chowaneitz lives and breathes everything that is Alder Ridge. Under the financial and management support of a great company called Corus, Rob makes wine for the Zefina winery.

As part of the Corus family of wines, Zefina is not open to the public. The only way you can find the wines is by buying them through distributors or grocery retailers. I hadn’t seen the wines before, but found them on a local at my neighborhood Grocery Outlet shelf and decided to give them a try.

I took the time to taste some of the Zefina wines this week, and found them to be very satisfying, and also very affordable. Here are four of the wines I tasted:

The Serience White is chowaneitz’s white blend of 50% Rousanne and Viognier. I will admit that I was a little afraid of this one, because the vintage was a few years old. However, I found the wine to be quite free of oxidation. Bright and straw-like in the glass, the wine offers nice notes of orange blossoms, mineral, and lemon rind. On the palate, I tasted fresh gooseberry and lemon. The acids cleansed the palate nicely.

The 2007 Viognier also offers bright straw colors in the glass. Bright fresh tropical fruit on the nose, with hints of baking spices. The flavors are more of the same. The tropical notes take off and add in a nice cinnamon on the center of the tongue, with added bonus of a little bananas foster on the finish. I would serve this with a nice creamy fish dish. If I had some camerones la crema while tasting this wine I would have loved the pairing!

Next, I tried the Serience Red Blend. Once again this was a 2007 vintage. I think that this was possibly my favorite wine of the night. This blend of 44% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 11% Cinsault, 3% Mourvedre, and 2% Counoise is very rich and smooth indeed. Dark red, leading to purple in the glass it definitely looks like a wine with full-bodied potential. The nose is rich with blackberry, dark cherry, and even a little blueberry with vanilla mixed in for measure. The flavors are rich and very smooth. I loved the careful balance of fruit, alcohol, and tannin. This is definitely a wine to be enjoyed by itself as well as food.

Last, I tasted the 2007 Zinfandel. One of the things I love about Horse Heaven region Zinfandel is that it tends to be rich in flavor, without being too cloying on the finish. This one definitely shows some natural sweetness at the end, but really that is just an afterthought. The wine is deep red in the glass, with the spicy richness of bing cherries and light oak. I enjoyed this wine very much with a Putenesca sauce and pasta.

At $5.99 per bottle each, all of these wines were well worth their price and a whole lot more.


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