Alexander Hamilton is justifiably celebrated as one of the Founding Fathers of our Republic, and his contributions to “The Federalist Papers” are required reading for any student of American history. Just as importantly, he was an enthusiastic champion for the advancement of both agriculture and manufacturing in his new nation, and he had an abiding faith in the entrepreneurial spirit of his fellow Americans. Interestingly, the Zinfandel grape was already being cultivated in the American colonies during Hamilton’s lifetime, but it did not make its way to California until the 1860’s, and it was not until the middle of the twentieth century that the happy conjunction of a decidedly promising grape and a group of ingenious California winemakers gave birth to what is arguably the most quintessentially American wine: Zinfandel.
While Zinfandels are made in a variety of styles in California’s several wine regions, those coming from Dry Creek Valley have earned a reputation for being the standard against which others are measured. It is therefore appropriate that one winery from this appellation has decided to produce a wine that is a tribute to Alexander Hamilton: The Federalist 2008 Dry Creek Valley Visionary Zinfandel ($25). This decidedly elegant wine has lively dark fruit and spice aromas that lead to beautifully orchestrated raspberry, currant, and black cherry flavors complicated by hints of allspice and cocoa, with a deft touch of vanilla-oak emerging on its polished, lingering finish. It is hard to imagine a dinner wine that would better complement a wide range of fare, from the humble (burgers or barbecue) to the sophisticated (beef tenderloin or lamb), but in any event, the pleasures of any meal would be considerably amplified by a glass of this classic Zinfandel. In truth, Zinfandel is my favorite wine, and I assure readers that The Federalist 2008 is among the very best Zinfandels that I have tasted in the past year.
In a sense, The Federalist 2008 Visionary Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel fully rewards Alexander Hamilton’s faith in the American spirit, since its crafting combines both viticulture (agriculture) and viniculture (manufacturing). Were Hamilton alive today, I think that he would be pleased by the tribute; I’m certain that he would love the wine.