Sometimes your wine choice is restricted, and on this occasion my options were to buy a bottle with a screw cap, or buy a bottle with a corkscrew. The little wine shop in The Mumbles, South Wales, deep in Dylan Thomas country did not sell corkscrews and the rain was coming down in the way that only Welsh rain can, so I wasn’t minded to head into town to visit a kitchen shop so I limited myself to screw cap wine.
I also didn’t have a fridge, the wine had to relax for at least five hours before we’d drink it, and it was unseasonably warm in the Gower so I didn’t want a white wine. That meant choosing a red wine with a screwcap, that would not need decanting and would be happy with a 30 mile drive through twisting country roads as well as a short blast down the motorway.
I opted for this Scotto Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi in California. I like Zinfandel and I’m not ashamed to admit it. This one is made by the Scotto family, and their marketing department is keen for you to know that their ancestors made wine in Italy before heading off across the Atlantic to make wine in North America. It would be nice to think that the wine was Primitivo they’d brought with them from Italy, but as they were from an island off the Naples cost that’s unlikely. They did make money during prohibition selling home brew in New York, but again, the recipe is no doubt different now.
So, stories aside, how was the wine? It was a good dark purple with reasonable legs. It smelled good, perfectly autumnal with black fruits and a little sweet spice and vanilla, the comfort food flavours in a wine. It tasted good too. It’s dry with a medium soft acidity and soft ripe tannins, along with a bonus wood tannin. It’s medium bodied with an alcohol level that was at the high end of medium, but not overwhelmingly so, just at the nice warming point.
The fruity flavours of black cherries and plums came through with a bit of bramble and soft vanilla. The spice was more peppery than I’d expected, less sweet, but that worked well too. The flavour lasted well, working through from vanilla to fruit to pepper to another glass thank you. This was sensibly priced at about £9, sold in a good retail environment and next to the famous Joe’s Ice Cream Parlor – so what’s not to like?