Madrigal 2000 Napa Valley Zinfandel ($25.00)
The conventional wisdom holds that 2000 was a poor vintage for Zinfandel in Napa and Sonoma, an unseasonably cool autumn yielding underripe grapes that made unappealing "green" and "herbal" Zinfandel. But give credit to Madrigral: They played the cards that nature dealt and laid down a winning hand in this complex and relatively subtle expression of a grape usually better known for its exuberance. Clear dark reddish-purple in color, it breathes characteristic but relatively subtle Zin blackberries and raspberries enhanced with distinctly spicy overtones. Full and bright berry and spice flavors follow the nose, adding pleasant leafy and herbal notes that accent but don't dominate the fruit. It's idiosyncratic by the usual Zinfandel standard, but I find it more multi-dimensional than many Zins, and that's worth applause. US Importer: (Aug 26, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: Grilled rare steak is the classic accompaniment for Zin, but this one worked well with a vegetarian alternative: Fried slices of Italian eggplant topped with fresh whole-milk mozzarella and set on a bed of chopped garden tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.

WEB LINK: http://www.madrigalvineyards.com/

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