One day in one of my enjoyable trips to my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan, I was just getting ready to leave and I got waylaid. Now I realize that it sounds peculiar that I would have trouble leaving a wine shop. A customer came in, and I figured that it would be the perfect time to leave, but he came in with a request for some popular priced wines to go with a dinner that he was going to make “Stufato di Frutti di Mare” or Seafood Stew, but the kicker was that it would be in a tomato base. Immediately everyone thinks of white wines with seafood, but the tomato base threw a monkey wrench in the discussion. I normally wouldn’t chimed in, but when I was asked, I had to answer, but I try to demur to the professionals. I thought of years ago when I used to attend a big Italian family Christmas Eve party that was only offering platters of seafood, a tradition. I and the consultants thought of big and spicy red wines. So, I was called in for a tasting, imagine that.
One of the first wines that I thought of was Primitivo, because my brain thinks of matching ethnic cuisine with like wines, but I thought Primitivo might be a bit heavy. Then someone suggested Zinfandel, which is the American Primitivo, but I think with a bit more fruit and spice, made for the wine critics who like jammy wines. We all tried some Peirano Estate Vineyards “The Heritage Collection” Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi 2018. In 1879 Giacomo Peirano, a grape farmer from Genoa, Italy immigrated to San Francisco in hopes of becoming a gold miner, he realized that he was too late and moved to Lodi, home of many mining camps. He opened up a shop to cater to the miners’ needs, he was successful, and went back to Italy to fetch his wife and brought back Italian Zinfandel cuttings as well. He bought a three-hundred-acre farm and planted seventy-five acres of vines. The family has been successful to this day with five generations. This wine had a long growing season with low yield crops from over one-hundred-twenty-year-old Zinfandel vines. The fruit was handpicked, lightly crushed in the tanks and fermented on the skins for dryness. Then aged in a mix of French and American Oak, of which fifteen percent was new, for about eighteen months. The deep burgundy colored wine offered notes of black fruits and on the palate, there was black cherries, plums, cocoa and spices with moderate tannins and good acidity; with a nice moderate finish beckoning for another glass. I think we all agreed that this would be perfect with the planned dish.
Then it was suggested to try a nice Mediterranean style wine as well, Bodegas Alto Moncayo Veraton Garnacha 2018 is a fine example of wine from Campo de Borja DO. The town of Borja has a long history going back to 5 BC and thought to be from tribes of mixed Iberian and Celtic stock. The Borgia family, that is famous in Italy, during the Renaissance, and produced two Popes, were of Borjan origin. The winemaking goes back to the time of the Romans and the Cistercian monks. Rain is scarce in the region, the low regions are of brown limestone, while the middle elevation offers soil of deposited stones and iron-rich clay, while the highest elevation in the Moncayo foothills offer stones, iron and lime. I had to show two different views of the label, because the pretty part, doesn’t identify the wine, unless you already know the artwork. This wine is made from vines that are thirty to fifty years of age. The wine is barrel aged for sixteen months. This wine had a nose of dark fruits, and those fruits follow through on the palate along with a touch of chocolate, nice tannins, balanced with a medium count finish with terroir. Another winner for the dish, and the customer wasn’t sure, so he decided to get six of each for the dinner party.