There are two wine consumers in this house; he who buys and she who imbibes. This review of PELLEGRINI 2008 Russian River Valley Zinfandel will have both our opinions, but will be written from my (the imbiber) point of view. I clarify because I can only be considered an oenophile in that I love wine but am, by no means, a wine aficionado or connoisseur. That being said, I love a good zin, usually much more than by better half. I was super excited to see that we were tasting the Pellegrini and couldn't wait for the fun to start.
As I put the bottle in the wine fridge to hang for the afternoon, I gave myself a little high five for changing my menu plans for the evening. I had planned on curried lentils, but after finding out we would be doing our tasting, I banked on red and went for spaghetti. This is not your throw some sauce together and open up a bottle of 2 dolla holla, but an all day affair of flavor building - beginning with San Marzano tomatoes, copious amounts of garlic, grass fed beef, fresh herbs... you get the picture. I bet well, as I don't think anything matches a good tomato sauce like a spicy zin.
We opened the bottle at 7pm and let it "breathe" for about 30 minutes before our initial pour. Husband put 2 glasses in front of me for a taste, one straight from the bottle and one using the Vinturi aerator. I was not overwhelmed by the nose. It wasn't unpleasant at all; on the contrary, it was lovely, just very subtle. There was the obvious berry, with a hint of floral and cinnamon, and as time passed through the night, some amaretto. My palate was happy from the get go with both, but could definitely taste a positive difference in the aerated glass. Both had nice body and flavor, but the aerated glass was more like a nice body that had just taken a yoga class. It was looser, more smooth, and the flavors met you with a confident calm. Don't take this for a soft wine, though. The flavors have some boldness and to my palate, a bit of tartness as well. Husband said, "It's not your straight forward, jammy, hit your tongue with a shovel California Zinfandel." Like a good wife, I concur.
At the open 1 hour point, we sat down with our spaghetti, alongside simple greens dressed in a lemon vinaigrette, and some crusty olive bread. The Pellegrini paired beautifully with our food. I thought the salad brought out a hint of citrus in the wine (although that could just be lingering lemon on my tongue!), but my overall impression was a very tasty wine that had richness to balance the acidity, big fruit, and a nice peppery finish. Husband was very content, although I don't think he liked it quite as much as me. He thought the Pellegrini showed complexity, and detected notes of blueberry, amaretto, and said something about 'a little butter cream with spice'. Pellegrini did a lovely job in crafting a very approachable zin at a great price point, especially with the Woot offer. It definitely piqued our interest in their other varietals. The sampler they are offering here seems to be a great way to, well, sample! We can always use the white for cooking! ;)
[STAFF MOD: I gather this is an official labrat? Correct me if I'm wrong.]