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Wine of the Week: Pedroncelli 2015 Dry Creek Valley Dry Rosé of Zinfandel

Pedroncelli Winery

Let’s discuss pink Zinfandel. Pink Zin, that’s a trepidatious topic, because my goals and responsibilities are twofold and contradictory: 1) Wine drinkers who eschew white Zin, and know Sonoma County Zinfandel to be a hearty, and sometimes elegant and world-class red wine, require assurance that a quality rosé of Zinfandel such as this is not “white Zin,” but: 2) fans of white Zin might not like to be criticized for their heretofore favorite tipple, but they might like a tip on a wine that’s even more delicious than what they’ve been enjoying up to now.

So let’s get real about pink Zinfandel: On the face of it, the sweet, pink face of it, white Zinfandel is a ruse: it’s not a white wine, it’s a blush wine. In 1972 (the same year that David Bowie recorded “Starman,” for reference), a Napa winemaker made a truly white wine from Zinfandel, and it was bone dry. He called it “Oeil de Perdrix,” a fancy French term for light wines made from red grapes, meaning “Eye of the Partridge.” It didn’t take off until it was made in a sweet version.

And that wine is now in the collection of the Smithsonian, along with the Apollo lunar module. What’s the takeaway—that there was a starman waiting in the sky, but he got drunk on cheap California wine? No, it’s that dry rosé of Zinfandel is a fundamentally different wine than the residually sweet, “white Zin” style, and should appeal to fans of serious European rosé, especially the heartier rosés of southern France, Italian rosatos and Spanish rosados.

Pedroncelli 2015 Dry Creek Valley Dry Rosé of Zinfandel ($12)

This is one of the better iterations of Pedroncelli’s dry rosé of Zinfandel I’ve had, but then again, it’s a pretty reliable release from this Sonoma County stalwart. A deep, pink hue, it’s got a candy fruit aroma like cherry Jolly Rancher—but “pastille” is the fancy way to say this. Showing similar raspberry, cherry aromas and flavors you might expect in a “white Zinfandel,” it’s dialed up more than a notch or two—crunchy red fruit on the tooth, and a dry finish on the tongue clearly distinguish this bold, yet balanced rosé of Zinfandel from that…well, perfectly legitimate, lighter and sweeter version of pink Zin.

Pedroncelli Recipe

Caesar Salad with Rock Shrimp (Serves 4)

Croutons:

Take one half of a day old baguette or other sourdough French bread and slice up into ½ inch cubes. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and set aside.

Caesar Salad:

1 head of romaine lettuce
1 clove garlic
2 anchovy fillets (packed in oil, drained) See note.
½ lemon
2 t Dijon mustard
1 large egg yolk (See note)
1 t Worcestershire sauce
½ t Tabasco
4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound shelled raw rock shrimp
1 T Olive Oil

Preparation:

Cut ½ inch from the top and bottom of the romaine and rinse in cold water a couple of times to remove dirt. Cut in half and then in quarters, roll in paper towels to dry. Slice crosswise in about 1 inch strips. Wrap in paper towels if too moist. Place in large bowl.

Peel garlic. Drop garlic and anchovies (optional) down the chute of a food processor with motor running. Juice the lemon half. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the mustard, egg yolk, Worcestershire, Tabasco, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. With motor running, gradually add the olive oil through the chute until the dressing is combined.

Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing a few times to cook evenly, just until the shrimp firm up and the color changes.

Add the dressing to the romaine lettuce and toss well. Add the croutons and toss. Put the salad on individual plates and spread the cooked shrimp evenly on top. Serves four.

Please note: I do two things differently in this recipe: If you do not want to add the anchovy, increase the Worcestershire sauce to 1 tablespoon. If you do not want to add the egg yolk, use ¼ c egg substitute or two additional teaspoons of Dijon mustard.

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