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WBW #23: Painter Bridge Zinfandel (2004)

July 5, 2006

For this installment of Wine Blogging Wednesday (hosted by Vivi’s Wine Journal , the theme was BBQ wines. Very seasonally appropriate, and easy enough to do, since we now have a brand-new barbeque sitting in our backyard. And it was a long weekend for us as well, so there were plenty of opportunities to grill. To make matters even better, Winnipeg’s notorious mosquitoes are scarce this year, making a night of grilling even more appealing.

We took the traditional route for the BBQ, with two sirloin steaks marinated in red wine, garlic and the Keg’s steak spice. And we served them up with skewered veggies – zucchini, red onions, mushrooms and red peppers – which were marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and rosemary.

To bring it all together, I opened a bottle of J. Lohr’s “Painter Bridge” Zinfandel (2004 vintage). This wine has been a longtime favourite of mine. The price is right ($12.99 – although only available at the private wine stores), and I think it’s a great example of a food-friendly Zinfandel.

This particular vintage is 75% Zinfandel, 23% Shiraz and 2% Petite Syrah. It’s 13.3% ABV, so it’s strong – but nothing like some of the monster Zinfandels that California is capable of. I love the big Zins, but it’s always nice to have some balance as well.

In the glass, the Painter Bridge shows off a beautiful dark purple, almost a stereotypical “wine” colour. The nose is a bit jammy, but you can still pick up the wild berries and spiciness that I always associate with Zinfandel. And in the mouth, it was soft and very tasty. Lots more fruit (raspberries for the most part) and some spice, with a little bit of oak in the background. Surprisingly, I didn’t pick up many tannins at all. And at the end, this wine did remind me a little bit of a leaner Australian Shiraz. But that’s probably an unfair comparison as there is way more spice than jam in this bottle.

And it was perfect with the food we served. I left the steaks on the grill a little too long (I’m still learning), but they were very good anyways. We took the grilled veggies off the skewers and served them up as a warm ‘salad’ with spiced croutons and Bocconcini.

The verdict? Painter Bridge Zinfandel is a great BBQ wine. The price is right, it’s not too jammy or too big and it’s available at your nearest private wine store. There’s enough spice in the wine to balance out the smokiness of the BBQ. And from past experience with this wine, I can safely say that it’s a crowd-pleaser! And I’m also a big fan of the Painter Bridge Chardonnay.

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