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Wine of the Week: Pedroncelli’s 2014 Bushnell Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

I’m impressed with this single-vineyard Pedroncelli Zinfandel, which is new to me, as well as the winery’s latest vintage of their classic “Mother Clone” Zinfandel. It’s well-nigh as big, bombastic and blockbuster as some of California’s more highly priced “cult” Zinfandels, but for a comparatively low fee.

Pedroncelli’s 2014 Bushnell Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($25) comes from a drought year, as evidenced by their photo taken January, 2014: the vineyard should have been a carpet of green by then. Nevertheless, some rains came, and the vines, on a 22-acre property the family bought in 1945, put out a densely flavorful crop.

This is no lean and “restrained” Zin. The aroma bursts with blackberry cobbler, liqueur-like blackberry, and charred oak on the nose and palate. It’s chewy, dry and firm, with an acidic bite like French roast coffee. It’s got room enough between the fruit and oak elements to come together a bit more, but it’s certainly delicious now. Is it food friendly? Depends on the food, silly.

Also reasonably priced, and appropriately a little less than the Bushnell, the Pedroncelli 2014 “Mother Clone” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($18) also showcases darkly toasted oak and brambleberry fruit, with the savor of dried dates dancing amid the smoke and the brambles on the finish.

The “Mother Clone” refers to the original vines that grew on the property when Giovanni Pedroncelli purchased 25 acres in Dry Creek Valley in 1927—a time when the smart money was on prunes, not grapes. After Prohibition, the family replanted with cuttings from those vines.

Zin is what Pedroncelli does best, and these solid examples are priced so well you can get two bottles—one for the recipe and one for the cook!

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This Week's Recipe: Beef Mother Clone

From Pedroncelli Winery: A new twist on an old favorite. Wonderful aromas waft through the whole house!

Ingredients:

2 lbs stew meat, trimmed of fat and in 1 ½ inch cubes
1-2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
flour
finely ground black pepper
salt
1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1-1 ½ ounces dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups beef broth
2 cups Mother Clone Zinfandel

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes, strain, reserving soaking water, rinse mushrooms and set aside.  Heat dutch oven to medium high.  Pour ½ T of olive oil into pan, add onion and sauté for 10 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté 2 more minutes.

Scoop out onion mixture and set aside.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat to medium high.  Roll beef cubes in mixture of flour, pepper and salt (to taste).  Add beef cubes in batches and brown on all sides.  Take meat out and set aside.

Pour all mushrooms into pan and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add onions and beef to pan.  Pour in beef broth, reserved soaking water and zinfandel.  Secure lid and put in oven for 1-2 hours—the longer the better. Check halfway through to add liquid (stock, water, wine or a blend thereof) if necessary.   Serve over pasta, polenta or rice.

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