2009 Tribunal Sonoma County
The solid under $20 is a tough nut to crack these days—a phrase that pains me to write. This all over the map blend from Sonoma—Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Cab Fran, Primitivo, Merlot, Syrah, Barbera and Grenache, phew!— could be a hot mess but somehow it all works and it’s become a bit of a go to wine for me. I’ve heard it described as a mini-version of Orin Swift’s excellent The Prisoner and it’s a great comparison: both wines have a lot of Zin, but through in a bunch of other elements to give complexity and tame Zin’s boozy tendencies. Truth be told, despite the small presence of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Barbera, this wine really is a bit too big and rich to go with most pasta. It’s meaty and round with a lot of ripe berry, coffee and smoke going on. Nice on its own or with a slab of pepper-crusted beef.