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Decadent discoveries at the Fraser Valley Cork and Keg Festival

BC's top wine representatives at the Fraser Valley Cork and Keg festival introduced a dangerous trio of reds and an unexpectedly delicious bit of fizz destined to become your new obsessions of the season.

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Like Moscato, I have avoided Zinfandel for years.  An early taste of it had reminded me a bit too much of the lingering acid of bad red wine and a night spent pooled on tiles somewhere. Apparently all it took was Roberti and his brooding Zins from Alexander Vineyards to erase what seems to have been an erroneous first impression.

Enthusiastic and convincing, Purple Valley Import's Roberto Roberti

Ranging in depth of flavour and complexity, the Alexander vineyard series ‘begins’ with an easy drinking, lighter Zinfandel called ‘Temptation Zin.'

Voted the top ‘Hot Date Wine’ of 2011 by the masterminds at the NBC Today show, this is the gentlest of the series.  Although still round and full flavoured, the berry accord shared by all three is brighter and crisper in Temptation.  A tiny bit bitter at the finish, it huddles some orange and strawberry flavours beneath the predominant rich jam-like taste.   I wouldn’t think of it as a sexy wine, however, and I certainly wouldn’t haul it out for a hot date.  A hot, bloody steak -- that would work very nicely with it indeed.

The second in the series marks the gradual increase in depth as the wines start to evolve.  A touch more expensive than the crowd pleasing Temptation, Sin Zin replaces the optimistic brightness of the first with a more complex, woody feel.  With notes of smoke, cedar and bramble, Sin Zin lingers on the palate for longer and warms the mouth with spice as opposed to jam.

It’s definitely a headier flavour and whereas Temptation screamed for a steak, I found Sin Zin confidently demanding something gamier. If eaten with lamb or even duck served with a gingery fruit compote I can imagine it might taste a little something like autumn embers nestled in the back of your throat.

Redemption Zin rounds out the series in a very big, very bold, very sexy way. Repeated receiver of top marks by wine critics world wide, Redemption forces the berry tones of its siblings into the back row and showcases some amazing, woody flavours.  It’s an aggressive wine combining tones of walnuts, spices, and raisin- something like a deep and dangerous Christmas pudding. Kathy Lee should stick to her boxes of Naked Grape because I don’t think it’s food that I would pair this wine with. This is a drunken, voluptuous evening stretched out on a fur coat. This is Monica Bellucci in a bottle. 

All three of the mythic zinfandels are currently available at select lower mainland wine merchants. 

I must’ve sampled at least a hundred different wines at this year’s festival. I imagine it was quite a bit as I found myself sitting in front of a slot machine once the event had concluded, numbly pressing the ‘bet one’ button and thinking of what I would consider to be the real revelations of the afternoon.  It’s a testament to the quality of the Yellow Tail and Alexander Vineyard’s Zin series that I not only remembered them once the sparkles faded, but can still recall the pleasure of drinking them almost a week later.

Even if you detest Moscato or shudder when you smell Zin these wines have to be tried before you past judgment. You never know…they might be gateway wines to whole new interests.  Come to think of it, since that first sip of Moscato I’ve been strangely drawn to the Oprah’s book club selections at my local Chapters.  I doubt there’s a connection.

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