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Cold, rainy weather has moved in to the Southeastern, VA area this weekend which is perfect for our first ‘cold weather’ meal of the season – my wife’s spicy chili.  At Chez Morgan, chili means Zinfandel or Gewurztraminer.

We decided on a Zinfandel taste-off to kick-off the start of Fall’s transition to Winter.

Our ‘pre-winter, cold weather, perfect for chili night’ included the Napa Wine Company Zinfandel and the Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel.  Ideally I would have picked two Zins in the same vintage, but I wanted to try both of these wines since they are at opposite ends of the viticulture spectrum – Napa Wine Company uses certified organic grapes and Bogle is a big box producer.

Napa Wine Company 2005 Zinfandel

14.5% alcohol.  Real cork closure. $19.99

Napa Wine Company, located in Oakville, CA, has over 635 acres of organically certified vineyards.  The NWC Zin comes from the 80 acre Lincoln Creek Vineyard.  On the nose I found currants, plum and ripe, ripe, ripe cherries along with light spice aromas.  In the mouth, I found more currants along with vanilla and spice (not as much as I would have liked).  The tannins were well rounded, but this one was ‘hot’ on the finish.  When I exhaled after swallowing the wine there was a heavy alcohol component (almost like isopropyl alcohol).

Bogle 2006 Old Vine Zinfandel

14.8% alcohol. Real cork closure.  $8.97

Both the mouth and nose presented ‘fresh’ berries.  On the nose a concorde grape aroma jumped out of the glass followed by raspberry, cinnamon and other spices.  In the mouth I got the same concorde grape along with darker fruits and a strong vanilla component.  The tannins on the Bogle seemed (to me) better balanced with the fruit than the NWC Zin.

I liked both of these Zins, however, if I had to choose a winner in this taste-off, I would go with the Bogle which was simpler on the nose, but seemed to work better with the Chili and had a better finish.  Since price does play a role, I would say the Bogle offered a better value in this case.

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