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Late Harvest Zinfandel

As summer draws to a close, we are reminded that the weather has been spectacular and with good weather comes good fruit. I have three tarts that will pair with my favorite CA Late Harvest Zinfandels, perfect for this time of year.

From Sonoma County, Dry Creek's 2006 Late Harvest Zin is 76% Zinfandel and 24% Petite Sirah. It presents with a black cherry color and sweet aroma of plums. Once tasted, it is simply delicious with flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, notes of chocolate and spice. Aged twenty-four months in French oak, it has a long, capturing finish. My blueberry tart with a cornmeal lattice crust is a perfect pairing for this rich wine. Local blueberries are cooked down to a thick jam with a touch of cinnamon and vanilla, making a match to be served throughout the day and into the evening. Neither the dessert nor wine is heavy so I could easily have this pairing often. Impressive!


Another summer fruit are plums - juicy, colorful plums with many varieties, particularly Elephant Heart Plums. Their flesh is rosy, and when you bite into one you will be won over. My next pairing is a spicy Plum Marmalade Tart with Rosenblum's Late Harvest Rosie Rabbit Zinfandel. Even the name, Rosie Rabbit matches the color of these Elephant Heart plums. A 2007 Late Harvest Zin (100% zinfandel) has aromas of cherries, ripe raspberries along with strawberries. Flavors  of dark berries and cherries with jammy notes go well with the spicy marmalade. Here I simmer the fruit with a sachet of pink peppercorns, star anise and cloves until the plums are soft. When the marmalade has cooled, I spread it over a baked cinnamon Pate Brisee and top with sliced plums. Rosenblum Cellars located in Almeda, CA produces this beautiful, sweet late harvest wine which showcases the assertive zinfandel varietal. Lively!


A final suggested pairing is Ridge Late Harvest Zinfandel Dusi Ranch in Paso Robles with a Chestnut Pear Tart. French Butter pears, poached and sliced, are fanned on chestnut paste in a cookie like crust made with chestnut flour. French Butter pears are steeped overnight in a zinfandel poaching liquid. Paired with Ridge 2007 Late Harvest Zin, this 100% zinfandel wine has a deep inky color with a nose of dark berry fruit. It has excellent structure and will pair well with the chestnuts in the tart. Top the tart off with a Chestnut Mont Blanc and you are ready to go for the fall. Elegant!