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Benziger Merlot 2003

Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    The red wines from 2003 in northern California are the most "user friendly" since the voluptuous 1997's. They are softly textured, rich in flavor, and moderate in tannins, meaning they are enjoyable virtually upon release. Like this Merlot, which is supple and full-bodied, with generous flavors (cocoa, green olive, toast, cherry, pepper), light oakiness, and along finish. For drinking over the next 2-3 years. Enjoy with braised rabbit with onions, cheese steak, beef tortillas, shish kebabs (leg of lamb with green and red peppers, onions, tomato and potato).

    Critical Acclaim

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    Benziger

    Benziger Family Winery

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    Benziger Family Winery, , California
    Benziger
    The Benziger Family Winery was founded in 1980 on the slopes of Sonoma Mountain. Their Reserve wines showcase those rare lots discovered in the vineyard or developed in the cellar that receive the highest level of care and emerge as the best of the vintage. Benziger also produces Benziger Family wine and the limited production Vineyard Designate wines. At the core of Benziger Winery are eight, same generation family members committed to managing every aspect of grape growing and winemaking.

    With a distinctly Mediterranean climate featuring warm days and cool nights, the Lodi AVA in California’s Central Valley provides growers with ideal conditions for grape-growing. As most of the rain falls in winter months while vines are dormant, the risk of disease and pest problems is low and irrigation can make up for the dry conditions during harvest.

    By a wide margin, Zinfandel is the most successful and widely planted variety in Lodi. Often made from old vines, these wines are robust and fleshy with ripe, plummy fruit and represent excellent value at the lower end of the price spectrum. Over 100 other varieties are grown here, ranging from the classic (Merlot, Chardonnay) to the obscure and experimental (Portugal’s Touriga Nacional, France's Picqpoul).

    Zinfandel

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    Unapologetically powerful, heady, and fruit-forward, Zinfandel is often thought of as a truly Californian grape, though in fact it is anything but. This variety has followed an intriguing trajectory to reach its adoptive home, beginning, surprisingly, in Croatia. Originally known as Tribidrag, it first made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. From there it eventually migrated to what is now unarguably its most successful outpost, in California, and has thrived throughout the state. Of course, this is also the grape of White Zinfandel, a sweet pink wine that enjoyed great popularity in the 1980s and 90s. Though White Zin still has a significant following, today the variety is increasingly associated with the red version.

    In the Glass

    Zinfandel commonly features a bold, plush texture and notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, black pepper, dark chocolate, leather, and licorice, and can often be described as “jammy” and a little bit sweet. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig, or prune. Despite its significant alcohol and weight, Zinfandel has very smooth, gentle tannins.

    Perfect Pairings

    Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs, or anything barbecued. If care is taken with regards to alcohol levels, Zinfandel’s hint of sweetness can work well with milder Indian-spiced dishes like lamb curry.

    Sommelier Secret

    Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding vines tend to produce wine that is concentrated, complex, and elegant.

    NDV278354_2003 Item# 90074

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