There's a new wine sheriff in Zin town, and its name is Dueling Pistols. Corny, I know, but the label alone could have you looking for a gun fight.
Dueling Pistols is a new wine, first vintage, from a new project, The Federalist, which itself is only in its second vintage. The Federalist is Terlato Wines International's homage to Zinfandel. Terlato markets wines for others and owns their own wineries and wines.
The Federalist labeling, with its parchment coloring, currency style illustration, and images harkening to our early days as a country, speaks to the uniquely American heritage many ascribe to the Zinafandel grape. Zin plantings in what is now Sonoma county date back to the 1800s; while the original plantings came from Europe, America's embrace of Zin, and the popularity it has fostered, has so overshadowed its genetic Italian equivalent, Primitivo, that it's considered a distinctly American wine.
Dueling Pistols is the Federalist's second wine, their first being the 100% Zinfandel Visionary, now in its second vintage. Less a duel than a "dual" (as the elements work so well together), the Dueling Pistols bottling is equal parts Zinfandel and Syrah. Here are our notes:
Wine: 2009 - The Federalist Dueling Pistols - Dry Creek Valley.
Named for the 1804 pistol duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr which brought Hamilton to an end.
Varietal: 50% Zin 50% Syrah
Notes: Dark garnet, brightly polished color. Touch of jam in the nose and a dusting of spice-to-pepper and a pinch of mocha. Smooth mouth spritzes up at mid palate with the sparkling of spices, like a dusting of herbs de provence and pepper. Dark, tight cherry flavor is wrapped in a heavy coat of mid-tannic mocha-cacao and the slightest hint of the roasted edge of meat.
Sells For: $34.99 and drinks like it.
Wine:2008 -The Federalist Visionary - Zinfandel.
A tribute to Alexander Hamilton as the leader of the Federalist party in the 1700s, "around the same time the roots of Zinfandel were beginning to grow into the U.S."
Notes: Noses fresh and fruit forward with lots blacks and reds, berries and otherwise. Flavors of cheery cherry with a bit more pronounced acidity and dusty tannin. The wine is warming with a modest heat beyond the 14.2 (percent alcohol) indicated on the bottle. The fruit notes present nicely though a bit held back by the acidity -- like a blackberry 75% of the way to ripe. Touch of jam, burst of cherry, and then the majority of the blackberry characteristics.
Sells For: $19.99 Drinks Like: $28-30. Still, while it's the better value on an absolute basis, I'd rather drink the Dueling and pay the price.
Where to buy them: Spencer & Daniels and Swirl on Castro.