Now is the time to uncork a 2008 Zinfandel, especially if a summer barbeque lurks on the horizon. The tannins are at the right structural level after four years, the spices have mellow gracefully, and fruit notes now bolder and more pronounced. That’s the case with this stellar offering from Dover Canyon Winery, a masterful red wine producer in the northwest corner of Paso Robles, owned by winemaker Dan Panico.
It’s hard to choose amongst Dover Canyon’s blends, Syrah, Zinfandel, and even a terrific Zinfandel Port. Each is softly focused instead of being a chewy, rich offering that hopes to lure you towards a corner and knock you on the head with a heavy flavor blast. This Zinfandel is beautifully rounded, with a peppery nose leading to raspberry and some fig notes, then a touch of ash to coat the palate. Balancing the fine line of heavy and light that Zinfandel always does, this is a perfect wine for lamb or grilled pork chops or grilled chicken. Even a grilled steak with portobello mushrooms would appreciate teaming up with this wine.
The grapes are from vines off property near the Salinas River at the westside Zinfandel Bella Vineyard, where the climate is a tad less harsh than many of Paso Robles’ heavily sun exposed vineyards. The wine is unfiltered, leading to more sediment at the bottle’s bottom. At the same time, a lusher texture is achieved without the heady, sticky tannins. There is technique on display here, an artist’s touch to a rugged Zinfandel.
Of course the wines are the highlight of any visit to Dover Canyon. However, you won’t leave without an introduction to the winery’s mascot and inspiration (don’t think he’s the winemaker or cellar master though…) Thunder, the St. Bernard. I’m not sure what Thunder thinks of the Old Vine Zinfandel. He and his winery colleagues did craft a superb 2008 Zinfandel that is ready to be enjoyed this summer.