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Wine of the Week: Murphy-Goode 2011 Liar’s Dice Sonoma County Zinfandel

Farming is a gambler’s vocation. Besides experience, skill, and patience, there’s a whole lot of pure luck that goes into it. If you’re concerned about the famously “difficult” 2011 vintage, count yourself in with the crowd; if you haven’t read about the notoriously “difficult” vintage of 2011 until your eyes are as red as fresh-crushed Alicante Bouschet, count yourself lucky.

One of the grayest, coolest seasons in the 40-year memories of some longtime winemakers in Sonoma County, 2011 started with fears of rot in the vineyard, never mind how it finished up. So, you’d think the vintage posed great challenges for Murphy-Goode Winery, which has a “Goode” reputation for producing fruity, forward wines like the “Liar’s Dice” Zinfandel. I said that the 2010 had a “sweet and comforting aroma like slapping strawberry jam on perfectly toasted bread.” How does the 2011 stack up?

Murphy-Goode’s 2011 Liar’s Dice Sonoma County Zinfandel ($21) has a spicy, earthy, woody aroma; I’m getting freshly milled redwood before the dark strawberry jam fruit takes over. Cinnamon Red Hots? This prototypical northern Sonoma County Zinfandel has notes of Mexican chocolate filling out the mid-palate with vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa over sweet-toned jammy fruit that finishes dry and wide, with sawdusty tannins. 

The 2011 Liar’s Dice is spot-on, hearty Zin with no surprises, but I like it better than the 2010. But then, that wasn’t a difficult vintage. That was just plain crazy.

Liar’s Dice Zinfandel Chili

Ingredients:

  • 6 dried chili pods, seeds and stems removed
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ lbs. wild boar shoulder, cut into cubes
  • 1½ lbs. wild boar shoulder, ground
  • 1 lb. chorizo, small dice
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ ounces chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. oregano, steeped in 1 cup of Zinfandel
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 10 ounces stewed tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup cotija cheese, grated

Directions:

Toast the dried chilies in a dry pan over medium heat for approximately 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and simmer for ten minutes. Strain out the chilies and let them cool. Chop the chilies with a sharp knife and reserve.

Season the boar meat evenly and liberally with salt. Heat oil over high heat in a heavy bottom large pot until it begins to smoke. Carefully place the boar and chorizo into the pan and brown on all sides. Cook the meat until all the moisture cooks out and a light brown film forms on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Drain the oil and fat off the meat and return the meat to the pan. Add the onions and garlic and sweat for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the chili powder, paprika and cumin and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the cheese) and the reserved chilies to the pot. Stir well with a wooden spoon, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1½ hours, occasionally stirring.

To serve: Spoon chili in a bowl and sprinkle with the grated cotija cheese.

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