California Cheering. Star Reds: Predator and Rhiannon

California Cheering
Star Reds: Predator and Rhiannon

Rutherford Wines Predator Old Vine Zinfandel 2013, 14%, €25.99
(Stockists: independents including D6 Wines, Donnybrook Fair, Clontarf Wines, Matsons Cork & Bandon, Ardkeen Waterford.)

The cup that cheers comes from the California, not quite from the West Coast but from inland Lodi, known locally as the Capital of Zinfandel mainly because there are some two thousand acres of Zinfandel old vine planted here.

Colour of the Predator is violet and so so bright and healthy looking. The berries are prominent in the inviting aromas. Colour and aromas may well lead one to believe this is a lightweight. But the first attack, rich and full of flavour, announces that this a serious wine. Aged in French and American oak, it has fruit and spice and fine tannins too, a delightful balance and a lingering finish and is Very Highly Recommended.

You don't see Zin very often around here but you have more than likely heard of it. It is the red grape of California, even if it apparently came from Croatia via Italy (Primitivo). Wines from the old vines have more flavour and intensity. For a Californian viewpoint, check here.

The Predator refers not to some large monster of the place but to the humble Ladybird (Ladybug in Lodi). This little bug is encouraged in the vineyard and rewards the winemakers by feasting on the destructive aphids, one of many eco-friendly strategies adopted by Rutherford Wines.
Speaking of feasting, they recommended trying it (the wine, not the Ladybird!) with short ribs or a juicy burger. My tip (from experience!) is Poulet Basquaise.

Rutherford Wine Rhiannon 2012 red (California) 13.5%, €25.99.
(Stockists: independents including D6 Wines, Donnybrook Fair, Clontarf Wines, Matsons Cork & Bandon, Ardkeen Waterford.)

This is a blend of Petite Sirah (44%), Syrah (42%), and Barbera (14%); proportions can vary from vintage to vintage. The Petite Sirah is a half brother of the Syrah and the Petite refers to its grape size.

Deep ruby is the colour and there are quite intense aromas (cherry, blackberry). Rounded fruit flavours in the palate, tannins too; it is smooth and elegant with a lush mouthfeel, beautifully balanced and with a long finish. Continuous pleasure from vibrant start to refined finalé. Complex, yet so approachable. Very Highly Recommended.

Rhiannon was a Celtic goddess - magical birds and horses featured in her portfolio - and she is used here “in homage to our family’s Welsh roots”.  Use it to accompany grilled meats and chicken. Divinely (of course!) delicious as a glass on its own.