NOTE: My first time, not sure if I'm supposed to post here as well; please forgive any screwup on my part.
LabRat Report: Pork Product Flu Benefit Edition -- 2005 Wellington Zinfandel
NOTE: Some bloviation follows before the review. If you don’t want to read the bloviation, skip down to the seven stars “*******.”
It is with a great sense of honor, joy, and trepidation that I write my very first wine.woot LabRat report. Honor for finally having been chosen, joy at being able to get free wine (w00t!!), opinionate about it (w00tyw00t) and actually have people READ said opinionation (w00ty w00t w00t!!), and trepidation over…well, read on for that bit.
Like everyone else who ever signed up for the Labrat program, I have a secret little place in my heart for that little buzz I get every Monday that I wind up placing a wine.woot order, hoping that the Labrat Fairy will pay me a visit overnight and send me free wine and a golden ticket on Tuesday.
So where does the “trepidation” part come in? Well, this week, and this day, has got to be one of the days when I can LEAST capably evaluate a wine. Starting on Friday afternoon, I started running a hot fever that had me sleeping from 8 PM to almost 5PM the following Saturday. I also spent most of Sunday sleeping. I would have called in sick to work the next day (and thus not been awake early enough on Monday to be a potential LabRat), but my fever had broken from “too damn high for an adult” to just “feel like the residue at the bottom of a recycling bin,” and my boss had been out for a whole week and had let me know that my presence was expected. Mind you, this was AFTER somehow managing to escape getting a cold or flu the entire winter, which is very so much NOT like me—I’m normally a germ magnet. So, after another night of NyQuil-induced sleep (deep green color, good legs, herbal/sharp nose, thick and herbal on the palette but a terrible bitter finish), I got up to my alarm clock, gulped down my 12-hour Sudafed tablets and some aspirin, and booted up.
Oh, joy, I thought, maybe Monday wouldn’t suck after all—I LOVE California Zins, and have loved every single one that I ever got off of wine.woot, so I was all over this woot like the mucilage on my sinuses. One long, hot, mentholated shower later, I was on my way to the office, with plans to hit my local Doc in the Box on the way home after work. I was starting to worry about my symptoms and probably should have stayed home, as I live right near the celery Flu epicenter in Queens, and the first local fatality had been reported the night before. However, as I’d been ill since Friday I figured I probably either didn’t have it or just had a very mild case. Also, I wanted to go out to see a doc as my sinuses were starting to make their telltale “I am going to blow up into an infection in 48 hours” noises. So off I went.
I lived through the workday, sort of, and then managed to get to my usual Doc in the Box. Flu was ruled out, but I was sent home with 3 prescriptions which I filled on my way home. Against my usual habit, I did NOT check my email before going to bed—I had started a rip of super-bad PMS on top of everything else. I found my Motrin and crashed.
Needless to say I wasn’t in great shape when I got up this AM. So, imagine my reactions when I got two surprises in my email.
The first was an event reminder—months and months ago, a friend and I had purchased tickets to a local foodie event featuring small plates and various libations from local restaurants (The Cuisine of Queens & Beyond if you must know--http://tinyurl.com/chp2jb). Oh, fleep, I thought. I feel like month-old gum on a subway platform and I sure can’t smell or taste much with this cold. But, I had committed to going, so I started to formulate a plan in my head regarding what OTC cold remedies I could ingest so that I could partake in the paid-for, non-refundable bounty.
Then I got my other big surprise. I was chosen to be a Lab Rat! My initial rush of joy was clouded by self-doubt and logistical worries. What if my nose was completely shot? WHEN would I be able to do this write-up if I don’t get home ‘till late tonight? What if my palette was totally dead after a night of eating multiple ethnic cuisines and drinking everything from cheap wine to aperitifs? Between the cold and the PMS, I wasn’t in the mood or condition to enjoy just about any pleasure of the flesh, not even free wine. And worst of all, since I was going right from the office to the event HOW THE FLEEP WAS I GOING TO GET THIS FLEEPING WINE HOME?
My groggy brain kicked into planning high gear. My Timbuk2 bag was big enough to stash the bottle in--check. OTC cold meds—check. Motrin—check. Emergency nasal spray if my sinuses suddenly really locked up—check. I had to come through today—for my friend at the event and for YOU, fellow wooters!
At one point at the event tonight, I played with the idea of pulling out the bottle and doing a “flash mob ratting,” and getting the opinions of anyone in my immediate vicinity. However, a few discreet inquiries later I decided against it—too much regulatory stuffthingies combined with the interests of paid advertisers made it unworkable.
So…in the interest of the wine.woot community and my commitment to getting out a review for the Wednesday buyers, here I am. It’s after 10 PM and my bedtime (have to get up extra-early for a meeting tomorrow), and pulling together my last ounce of strength after stuffing my face with incredibly delicious Mediterranean cuisines and free booze (okay I realize that last bit isn’t particularly sympathy-inducing), to taste free wine for all of you (okay, it’s alright if you have absolutely no sympathy left at this point).
When will I shut up and review the damn wine already? In a minute—while I was bloviating the above, I opened the bottle of the 2005 Wellington Zinfandel that I received this afternoon. When I got home around 8:30, I also had a PM dose of Tussionex (deep yellow, viscous, waxy floral nose, flat sweet taste with notes of marigold and aspirin, clings to the palette), so now I can actually smell and taste things normally again and I don’t hurt, so I’m ready to actually review now. Both the wine and I can breathe now, so let’s go:
When I first opened the bottle to pour myself a glass and let it breathe out, the wet end of the cork was a bit sour-smelling and crumbly-uh-oh! When I poured out a glass, though, my fears were quashed--the wine smelled incredible right out of the bottle—it had that big, fruity nose and deep jam color that shouts “Hey! I’m a bigass California Zin and I’m here to paaaaaaaaaartaayy!!” You know, the kind of wine that people who like to slam California Zins as “beginner wine” or “pizza wine” (snobs IMHO) point to in derision whenever it’s brought up.
However, believe the grown-up looking label on this bottle; let it breathe a little bit and the nose grows up and washes up nicely into a very grown-up wine. After sitting a bit, the aroma developed into smooth notes of tobacco, cocoa, and dried fruit meshed with some fresh-cut apple and shortbread cookie notes. Oooh, I thought, this is gonna be good.
And friends, it is. This is a lovely, rich, mature Zin that is ready to drink right now, but still has enough backbone to probably be put away for a few more years if you wanted to. This isn’t the Zin you had in college with takeout, but something that you would want to open to go with a perfectly-grilled steak or shrimp, or both. However, it’s also diverse enough to keep sipping right through to dessert, if dessert is a berry pie, biscotti, gelato, or anything else with complex medium-weight flavors. Bring this one to your SO’s parents’ Memorial Day BBQ and they will instantly be convinced that you’re a responsible adult with impeccable taste. This also has enough complexity to go with an herbed leg of lamb (which is what I may wind up doing with the other bottle when my order comes) or something similar—it can play well with other flavors as opposed to clashing with them or washing them out.
Taste notes: Medium texture, big, rich, full flavor in the mouth with a nutty finish, almost like walnuts. Low notes of dried honeyed pears, dark wood, pipe smoke, balanced with bright notes of fresh strawberry, kiwi, gooseberries, and honeydew. Finishes warm in the mouth with aforementioned walnut notes, with a light sparkle of fruit at the very end. End result: You want the next sip more than the last; I can’t wait to try the rest of the vertical. If this is the 2005 then I’m saving the 2004 for a Very Special Occasion indeed.
I hope that you all enjoyed my LabRat report, and that you all enjoy your wine. Also, let me sincerely ask for the chance to LabRat again this summer, perhaps, when my chance of having a cold is much lessened and I’ll have my CSA veggies to both pair my wine with and bloviate about. Thank you wine.woot, and thank you WineDavid39!