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Today marks the 60th Wine Blogging Wednesday – Happy 5th birthday WBW!  Big virtual ups to WBW founder, Len Thompson of Lenndevours.

This month’s WBW is hosted by Sonadora of Wannabewino blog, and the subject of this month’s WBW is one of my favorite varietals – Zinfandel!  Our charge for this month was to pair the Zinfandel of choice with our favorite grilled or BBQ’d food.   Since I’m on travel for a few weeks, I am unable to fully comply, but I improvised with takeout.   

As someone who considers Sonoma County the epicenter of Zinfandel production, I am naturally inclined to choose a California Zin.  However, since I’m in Seattle this week, I wanted to ‘drink local’ so I decided to go with a Zin from right here in Washington State.  Not only does this provide an opportunity for me to try my first Washington State Zinfandel, it also provides another Washington State tasting experience in preparation for WBC 2010

After visiting five different stores in search of a Washington State Zinfandel, I finally found a lone bottle of Maryhill 2006 Zinfandel at QFC.  The price was listed at $25.99/bottle, but I got a $10 discount because I’m really good looking.  Maryhill is located in the Columbia River Gorge in South Central Washington State, part of the Columbia Valley.  Maryville produces a total of 27 different wines, with a total annual production of 80,000 cases.    

I tried this wine over the course of two nights.  To pair with the Maryhill Zin on the first night, I opted for takeout – Outback rack of ribs. 

Maryhill Zin 1

Maryhill 2006 Zin with ribs. (Apologies for the picture quality - I've got to fire the photographer, or buy a new camera.)

Maryhill 2006 Zinfandel – Columbia Valley    Dark purple color with a nose of licorice, prune, dried fig and hints of table pepper.  Lighter than expected mouth feel, bordering on thin, with light tannins and flavors of dark berries, nutmeg and earth.  Although I didn’t pick up much vanilla in the nose or mouth initially, the finish was all vanilla crème. 

Maryhill Zin 2

For the second night I paired the Maryhill with a spicy Italian sausage pizza, and this pairing really brought out more nuances of the wine.  I’m not sure if the fact that the wine had a day to open up, or, if the spicy Italian sausage brought out the nuances.  The second night, the dark fruit was more pronounced, along with stronger pepper and spice components.

Overall, the Maryhill 2006 Zinfandel is a solid effort at the $15 price point.  If I were a QPR person, I would rate this one right in the middle of the QPR scale. 

My overall impression of Washington State Zinfandel is still forming – I definitely need to try a few more to form a more solid opinion.  At some point, I’d like to have a blind Washington versus California Zinfandel tasting just to see if the complexity and character of California Zin stands out as much as I think it does.

I will say that Zinfandel appears to be an endangered species here in Washington State as I was only able to find about ten Washington State wineries that actually produce a Zinfandel. (hat tip to Catie, the Walla Walla Wine Woman for helping with Washington State Zinfo.)  Of the 600+ wineries here in Washington, I’m sure there are more than ten wineries producing Zinfandel, but there aren’t too many more than that which is surprising.