Friday Night’s Alright for Zinfandel: Ambyth Estate

I’ve been thinking a lot about Zinfandel lately.  Wine writer extraordinaire Joe Roberts recently encouraged his readers to win tickets to San Francisco’s annual Zinfandel Fest, ZAP by submitting their favorites.  Although he didn’t choose my submission (there’s always next year!),  I’m going to take advantage of my position as the High Priestess of This Blog, to tell you about it anyway!  Ambyth Estate’s Bailey Zinfandel, Paso Robles.  A Zinfandel even an Italian Wine Geek can love!

Ambyth Estate is a winery we have known about for a few years now.  Emil and I stumbled on this estate during a trip to Paso Robles, quite by accident.  We had been tasting through Paso for a few days, and while I enjoyed myself immensely, I was having a tough time finding wines I really liked.  Ambyth was immediately different- this is no commercialized gift shop/ winery/ tasting room.   The family lives where they work, and they work where they make their wines.  As we sat at the Hart family kitchen counter sipping a delicious pink vino, discussing Nicolas Joly and Biodynamics with Phillip, I knew we were finally in the right place.

Phillip and Mary are biodynamic farmers, and they have the first and only Demeter Certified property in Paso Robles.  Say what you will about “natural” wine-making and biodynamics, the Ambyth wines are just outright delicious.  I remember feeling energized by the wines- acidity, power, terroir, depth… it was all there.   At the time Ambyth did not have  Zinfandel for us to sample, but I remember being downright impressed by a sangiovese Phillip was working on. I received a bottle of the winery’s Zinfandel in my wine club shipment recently, and we finally had a chance to open it the other night.

We tasted the wine while we stood around the kitchen counter snacking on some pate and olives.  I’m telling you, after a week on the road, there’s nothing better… especially with the right glass of vino.   The Bailey Zinfandel is vibrant, full of juicy red plums and drying violets.  The nose on this wine is especially pretty.  In fact, Emil tasted the wine and then enthusiastically started shadow-boxing around the kitchen, exclaiming “how can you NOT like a wine that smells like this!?”

Although this wine is organic, but not certified biodynamic, it is clear the Bailey Zin aspires to the same philosophy as Ambyth’s other selections.  The label makes me smile.  The pure honesty, and unfailing integrity to communicate the truth about the grape-growing, and the wine-making, is refreshing.  Agree, or disagree with the philosophy, but if you like the wine, does it matter?

Truth is in tasting (and in this case, truth is also in advertising).