Winery: Vindemia Winery
Product/Varietal: 93% Zinfandel, 7% Cabernet Franc
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: David Bradley
How They Describe It
As Vindemia searches for ideas & sustainable methods, you become the “Test Pilot”. After a glass of our Estate Grown, Produced & Bottled Zinfandel you may say this needs a little More Cowbell.
How I Describe It
Vindemia’s 2015 More Cowbell is primarily a medium-deep ruby. The wine’s maturity and age shows with a tinge of garnet around the rim.
Aromas of blackberry, ripe plum, and Luxardo black cherries hit first. Cedar, vanilla, and clove display the wine’s time in oak. There are herbaceous and spicy scents of eucalyptus, black pepper, and freshly cut grass. And the wine’s bottle age comes across with earth and mushroom, reminiscent of a first rain.
When sipped, the 2015 More Cowbell’s oak comes across first, with cedar, vanilla, and baking spices. Fruit characteristics include dark cherry, plum, and blackberry — the latter transitioning to rich mulberry as the wine breathes. A subtle leafy flavor, along with a hint of wet wool, complement earth and truffle.
This is a dry wine, with acid on the high end of medium-plus, high alcohol content, at 15.1% ABV, and well-integrated medium-plus tannins. These, along with the flavor characteristics, give the wine medium-plus body, medium-plus intensity and a long fruit-forward finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
At this point, my admiration of estate-grown wines is well documented, so gushing over that feature should be no surprise. What I found incredibly interesting about the 2015 More Cowbell were the tannins.
It’s not uncommon for big, robust red wines to have fairly high tannin content. When a wine is younger, that quality can affect the wine’s “mouthfeel”, producing a sensation similar to licking leather (i.e., interesting, but not particularly pleasant). As a wine ages, the tannin molecules change their composition. That’s when you’ll hear winemakers describe the mouthfeel as “soft” or “velvety”. For me, detecting soft tannins can be a challenge. However, the 2015 More Cowbell quite literally feels velvety when sipping! It’s such an interesting sensation, which contributes to the wine’s overall richness.
Next, a note on the varietals. Zinfandel is one of the most common grape varietals planted in California. It’s origins, though, go back two lesser-known wine producing regions: the heel of Italy and Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Zinfandel’s genetic twins are called Primitivo in the former, and Crljenak Kaštelanski (pronounced “sirl yenak kassel ansky”) in the latter, though the U.S. version tastes substantially different.
California Zinfandels are known for the rich, jammy, almost pruney flavors. In contrast, Cabernet Franc can have a more delicate tartness, red fruit, herbal, and leafy notes — a stark contrast from Zinfandel. Consequently, the winemaker’s choice to cut the Zinfandel with a bit of Cab Franc was an incredibly smart choice, and makes the wine much more enjoyable.
In fact, the More Cowbell’s name originated from the choice to cut Vindemia’s Zinfandel with a little something else. According to tasting room manager Karen Strahan, who helped select this wine for the review, while Vindemia’s winemaker was tasting his Zinfandel, he said something to the tune of “this needs something.” To which a colleague replied, “more cowbell!” And the name stuck.
When & How I Would Drink It
Vindemia Winery’s 2015 More Cowbell is already a deliciously mature wine. But for the discerning collector who can resist temptation, it could continue aging in the bottle for at least another 5-10 years.
My wife put it perfectly: this is a “nice, heavy winter wine.” Pop this open on a cold, rainy evening when it’s time to unwind.
The 2015 More Cowbell pairs perfectly alongside a juicy steak, savory chili, or grilled baby back ribs. Likewise, I sampled the More Cowbell after eating beef shawarma for dinner, and the wine played well with the flavorful Middle Eastern marinade.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $62 ($49 for wine club members)
Cases Produced: ~225 cases
Have you tried the Vindemia 2015 More Cowbell? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.