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2001 Villa Toscano "Fox Creek Vineyard" Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley, California

A week or so ago, I had a friend come visit me from the Sierra Foothills in Amador county. Knowing that I'm a wine nut, and in exchange for lodging for the weekend, he brought me a little something from up in his neck of the woods: this great example of a foothill Zinfandel from Villa Toscano.

The grapes for this wine come from 100 year old vines in Jim and Sue Fox's vineyard which is nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. This small valley is located between the towns of Jackson and Placerville in the foothills of the Sierras east of Sacramento. These hot dry hills were originally planted with grapes by pioneers who ended their 3,000 mile journeys here, and by prospectors who came later, following the gold rush at the turn of the century.

Tasting Notes:
A dark ruby in the glass, this wine has a lovely nose that at first smells of dried cherries and chocolate liqueur, and over time (24-48 hours) blossoms into ripe plum and loganberry aromas with a touch of vanilla. In the mouth it is extremely smooth with flavors of chocolate, vanilla, blackberries, and dried herbs, with a reasonable but not extraordinary finish.

Food Pairing:
Because it was open Ruth and I used some of it in a bolognese sauce that she made and then drank the rest of it with the meal. If you still have a NY Times Magazine lying around from several weeks ago there was an article that included this recipe, clip it. It's the best bolognese sauce I've ever had. While a wine that was slightly more tannic might have highlighted the earthiness of the sauce, it was a suitable complement.

Overall Score: 8.5

How much?: $18

This wine can be ordered directly from the winery's site.

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