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Managing editor Kim Marcus joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beats include Austria, Greece, southern France and Portugal.
Kim Marcus

A Ripe Red for a Grand Canyon Thanksgiving

Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2008

Kim Marcus
Posted: December 14, 2009

For Thanksgiving this year, my wife and I went to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Conditions were nearly perfect for canyon gazing: The air was crisp and crystal clear, with visibility well over 100 miles. We were staying in a rustic lodge next to the main campground, so we decided to do something a little different for our holiday meal. We found an outdoor fire ring with a grill and decided to cook our own meal over an open fire—much more entertaining in this locale than dining in a restaurant, we thought. The only difficulty was finding some good turkey parts to grill. So instead we purchased a stuffed Cornish game hen—small enough to cook quickly yet featuring the requisite Thanksgiving form, though in a much-reduced version.

What better wine than Zinfandel to match with this poultry. I had purchased a Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2008 a week before in Las Vegas, and had transported it the 300-plus miles in anticipation of matching it with our holiday repast. I wasn’t disappointed. After an hour or so on the grill, the bird was ready, and my wife and I scurried back to the warmth of our room. The bird was carved and plated (along with roasted sweet potatoes and green salad) and I poured the Zin. Its fruit comes from vineyards first planted more than a century ago in the eastern margin of Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay area. After fermentation, the wine was then aged for seven months in American oak. The result is a ripe red with plenty of spiciness and soft tannins supporting the red fruit flavors. I rated it 86 points, non-blind, and it went down just fine on an adventurous Thanksgiving night. And it was a bargain at just $13 a bottle.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for our Top Values in California Zinfandel, plus our quick list of Wineries for Value in California.

Tom Miller
Vestavia Hills, AL —  December 14, 2009 9:56pm ET

Your post really brought back memories. I remember vividly my first (and only) visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was in January in the early 1990s and the day was exactly like you described your visit, crystal clear and crisp. My wine was a half-bottle of 1987 Calera Pinot noir Jensen. Even with my ham and cheese on a wheat roll, the wine was ethereal. Maybe it was the location at Hermit's Rest but I rated it 94 points, non-blind. I rated the view and the experience at 100. Why is it that I can remember that wine almost twenty years ago and I can't remember what I did yesterday? Go figure.

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