Cardinal Zin 2012

With so many wine choices out there, it’s clear that the vintners are working hard to catch the consumer’s eye.  Of course, it’s most important that what goes in the bottle is of good quality.  But trying to tip the balance in their favor has the winemakers getting pretty creative.  This Zinfandel from Big House Wine, for instance, has a very catchy name as well as a great graphic on the label.  In fact, the graphic reminds me of the artwork I’ve seen in popular cartoons.  Yes, I confess.  I’ve been known to channel surf over to Adult Swim from time to time.  Please don’t judge me too harshly for it!

Winemaker:  Big House Wine
Wine: Cardinal Zin, Beastly Old Vines
Vintage: 2012
Varietal:  Zinfandel
Appellation:  California
Price: $9.98

Notes:  In the glass, this Zinfandel was garnet in color with what I’d describe as an unexpected bouquet of country ham, pepper, ash, and forest berry.  The body was light.  Acidity was good.  Tannins were medium.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  Flavors I detected were red currant, rose petal, pepper, a hint of sarsaparilla, and green herbs (together reminiscent of an herbal cough drop).  Despite how interesting the aroma and flavor profiles were, I was disappointed in this Big House offering.  It was quite a light-bodied wine – especially considering the varietal.  Add to that the expectations that “Beastly Old Vines” raise, and this selection did’t make good on the promise for me.  It was pleasant enough, and the price was easy on the wallet.  In fact, I grabbed it on sale at $6.99.  Bottom line: I would drink it again, but not to satisfy my “Yen for Zin.”

Big House White 2011

It seems of late that the American market is becoming more interested in blends.  Or maybe it’s just the stores I frequent.  At any rate, I saw this selection on my local supermarket’s shelves and thought I would give it a try.

Vineyard: Big House Wines
Varietal: White Wine (blend)
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: California
Price: $8.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:   Big House Wines out of Livermore, CA brings us a blend that is quite a mash-up of grape varietals – many among the lesser known or lesser seen – including Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Malvasia Bianca, Orange Muscat, Marsanne, and Muscat Canelli.  Even with the Muscats, Big House has made a dry white at 13% alcohol.  I found it to be quite pleasing with flavors of pear and green apple, some hints of warm spices, a splash of  lime as it moved across the tongue, ending with some grass and honeysuckle on the finish.  It’s fairly light-bodied but surprisingly viscous on the palate.  At $9, why not serve it at a relaxed get-together with friends?  If nothing else, it’ll definitely be a conversation starter.  And I bet it will be enjoyed by anyone who can move past their loyalty to a particular varietal.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  Please see “About” for my full disclaimer.