Take a Ride With ‘Biker’ Zinfandel

FREDRIC KOEPPEL | Special to The Memphis News

A wine nicknamed “Biker” would probably conjure the idea of a burly, bearded guy wearing motorcycle colors, midnight black shades and an old German army helmet astride a powerful Harley, hurtling down the highway in a roar of power and arrogance. The Four Vines “Biker” Zinfandel 2009, Paso Robles, however, while being fairly burly, does not come across as a two-fisted, no-holds-barred blockbuster. In fact, there’s a certain paradoxical sense of balance and decorum about the wine, though it is undeniably forthright and flavorful.

The winery goes back to 1994. As often happens in the California wine industry, Four Vines underwent several relocations and changes in ownership, but what did not change is the emphasis on regional and single-vineyard zinfandel wines and an unoaked chardonnay. Winemaker is Christian Tietje. I recently tasted four of the winery’s zinfandels, and the one I’m recommending – though the others aren’t bad – is the “Biker” 2009.

For Your Very Own Bottle

Buster's Liquors & Wines
191 S. Highland St., $27
Great Wines & Spirits
6150 Poplar Ave., $27
Winery of Germantown
7841 Farmington Blvd., $27

The color is dark ruby. Aromas of black currants, plums and blueberries are permeated by briery, brambly elements, graphite-like minerality and a burgeoning presence of dried fruit and flowers and exotic spice-like cloves and sandalwood; there’s essence of fruitcake and dark bittersweet chocolate in the depths. The wine is dense, intense, chewy, almost viscous in its ripeness and concentrated texture, though it’s never heavy or simpleminded. Flavors of slightly spiced and roasted black and blue fruit are deeply tuned to the structure of finely milled tannins and polished oak. It’s a big boy, but not a bad boy. As soon as I finish writing this notice, I’m going to make a pasta dish with smoked tomatoes and wild boar sausage. I think you get the idea.

For more about wine, check out Koeppel’s blog at www.biggerthanyourhead.net.