Would you like to be able to give the oenophile on your holiday gift list a bottle of wine rated one of the Top 10 worldwide for 2008 by Wine Spectator and still be out of pocket no more than 24 bucks? Then you're in luck.
Rated No. 10 this year and scored at an enviable 93 points is the Seghesio 2007 Zinfandel Sonoma County, a lush zin aged 11 months in mostly American oak. The miracle is that at wine shops and big-box stores locally, this gorgeous, supple red runs just $22 to $24 the bottle, well less than the price of any other wine in the Top 10 list.
Seghesio Family Vineyards, which has been making wine in California since 1895, specializes in zinfandel and offers several bottlings. Its wines regularly show up in Wine Spectator's 100 Best list, but this is its first year in the top rank. And it definitely deserves its place of honor.
We tasted it with a rare, mustard- and herb-crusted rack of lamb and steamed fingerling potatoes in an assertive dressing of goat cheese, garlic, lemon and sherry vinegar. The zin held its own beautifully, offering silkily complex spice and bramble notes and a very long, smooth finish. The edge we look for in a zin was there all right, but overall the wine offered a more refined take on the varietal than others in this price range. This is a big wine and a big bargain.
By Colette and John Bancroft. Colette Bancroft is the Times' book editor. John Bancroft is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.