The 2005 Buff-Bellied Zinfandel is part of Clos La Chance's Hummingbird Series. These are their entry level wines and most of them retail for between $14 & $18. Even though it's one of their entry level selections all the fruit was sourced from their estate vineyard in San Martin, CA. They also name each of the wines in this series for a specific type of Hummingbird, one that they feel relates in some way to that varietal. Just over 7,000 cases of this Zinfandel were made. 83% of it is Zinfandel with Petite Sirah, Primitivo and Alicante Bouchet making up the rest. A quarter of the wine was aged for in new American oak for 14 months with the remainder in neutral oak. This particular wine retails at $18 and it can be found pretty commonly for closer to $15.
The Buff-Bellied Zinfandel offers a nose-full of raspberries and spice with subtle vanilla notes. Upon first sipping, I found it to be a bit tart out of the bottle. However it opened up quickly. Thirty minutes in the decanter had it really showing off it's charms. Once it did open up there was abundant dark fruit followed by a mid-palate with lots of both light and dark jammy berry notes and more prominent vanilla characteristics. This is a mouth-filling wine that lights up your senses as you drink it. A subtle plum note and white pepper that lingers for a good long while close it out.
I find that I often enjoy Zinfandels that have a generous amount (10% in this case) of Petite Sirah blended in. The tradition of doing that goes back to many of the Italian field blends that have been popular in California for many years. What I feel the Petite Sirah adds to these Zinfandels is a dark brooding bottom end to balance the bright Zinfandel fruit. If a Zinfandel like this were a rock band I think of the Petite Sirah as the thumping bass while the Zinfandel itself is the screaming lead guitar.
The Clos La Chance Buff-Bellied Zinfandel is well balanced with excellent acidity. It has some jammy characteristic but it's far more elegant that the typical Zinfandel. That being the case this wine will go with a much wider variety of food than most Zinfandels. I had it with Penne Arrabiata and found that to be an excellent match for it.
Throughout the year I drink and/or taste quite a few Zinfandel's as they're of particular interest to me within the larger world of wine. I found the Clos la Chance Buff-Bellied Zinfandel from the Hummingbird Series to be a fine example of one made in a traditional style at a fair price.
Up Next: Clos La Chance Black-Chinned Syrah
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