Last month at a barbecue I sat around a table with four importers each of whom brought several California Zinfandels to showcase the upcoming vintage.
Notables such as Turley, Ridge and Robert Biale were there and true to form, they were quite good.
We sampled ten bottles. We tasted, swirled and ate for about an hour until one importer suddenly presented an eleventh bottle. It was covered so we couldn't see the label. It was good, really good!
That last bottle was the 2006 Schola Sarmenti Critera Rosso. But it wasn't from California, it was from Italy; it wasn't exactly a Zinfandel, it was a Primitivo. In Italy, Zinfandel is known as Primitivo and is genetically identical to its California clone.
This delicious red hails from Salento, Italy which is in the heel, adjacent to the Ionian Sea. It has all the wonderful Zinfandel traits and more: An intense fragrance of rich, dark berry fruit and subtle spice. Well structured and warm, this full bodied red has a classic Italian finish with fine chewy tannins. Blackberry and anise flavors last and last with a touch of cedar and hints of pomegranate. You can almost taste the Mediterranean landscape from this delicious wine.
Critera is the perfect companion for any of your barbecue favorites, pizza, pasta, or simply sitting around and enjoying with cheese. We promise both California and Italian wine lovers will not be disappointed with this great value red that over delivers for the price.
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