The Diener Ranch is a 10-acre vineyard in the Lake County's Red Hills district. At an elevation of 2,000 feet, the site's deep, rocky, volcanic soils make for wines with power and intensity. Blended with 15 percent Petite Sirah, the Enkidu 2008 Zinfandel features enchanting aromatics of roasted plum, blueberry, blackberry, freshly cracked pepper and an assortment of baking spices. The wine is full-bodied with a generous, creamy texture and excellent balance.
Blackberry, black licorice, black plum, red currant, hibiscus, blood orange and clove.
Bordered by Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, Lake County is an integral part of California's North Coast appellation. In the late 1800s, Lake County had a thriving wine industry that was wounded by the 1906 earthquake and later faded away during Prohibition. Phillip Staehle honed his craft during an eight-year tenure at Carmenet Vineyards. In 1994, he shifted gears and joined a wine supply company, but never gave up the dream of having his own winery. As Staehle later admitted, "I missed working with my hands, using all of my senses, and living and working according to the seasons of the year." In 2003, he joined forces with a former colleague and, from this happy re-immersion into the art of winemaking, Enkidu was born. The name comes from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Originating in Mesopotamia over 4,000 years ago, it is the tale of a noble hero who is driven to meet his destiny and rises to every challenge with courage and determination.
Zinfandel is made in a broad array of styles--from crisp blush wines to monstrous offering with port-like sweetness and elevated alcohol levels. But the 2008 Enkidu charts the middle course. While substantial, it achieves a degree of elegance and restraint. Match it with heavier, medium- to full-bodied dishes, particularly those that are braised, grilled or smoked. Given that it's summer grilling season, I cannot think of a more dynamite food pairing than my recipe for Caramelized Onion-Zin Burgers with Cheddar Cheese Fricos. Serve alongside my Radicchio Slaw with Warm Honey Vinaigrette or my recipe for Sally's Potato Salad. Or perhaps both...
Enjoying a vigorous revitalization, the Lake County viticultural region is defined geographically by past volcanic activity and by Clear Lake, which covers 43,000 acres and is California's largest body of fresh water.