I sure hope to see another bottling of ‘mbf’ Primitivo from the House of Mutt Lynch; you can’t get these fabulous very first 158 cases

Mutt Lynch 2009 Speedy Creek Vineyard Knights Valley Sonoma County Primitivo, $25

For my recent 80th birthday celebration I received several great wines from friends, one of which was a hand made Port which I’ll write about later.

Another was an impossible-to-obtain close relative of Zinfandel, which I’ll describe now. The grapes produced six French barrels of wine — half of them new, half used before. One hundred fifty-eight 750 milliliter bottles resulted after 18 months of loving care. (I don’t usually write about wines that really aren’t available to the general public, but at least you’ll know to jump for it if you see this label sometime.)

Judy’s sister Barbara served us, her husband Don, and their daughter Nancy a wonderful roast flank steak stuffed with spinach, bell peppers and feta, roasted buttery potatoes, and sauteed mixed vegetables — and this wine, wonderful by itself, was a perfect complement, just as any very nice wine should enhance, and be enhanced itself by, very nice food.

A deep, dark red cherry color, clear and bright, and quick-forming, long-lasting “legs” were well worth lingering over. But their promise quickly drew all of us into exploring the taste — or more properly, tastes (plural). The wine is still young enough so that various elements remain identifiable; but I think if the winery caches a few bottles they’ll find a rich Cabernet Sauvignon experience six or seven years from now. Its acid balance surely will support some aging to a single rich, robust sensation. Meanwhile, an initial delicate impression of mild hot chocolate, or maybe mocha, emerges from a swirl-and-sniff routine.

For now, in mouth what we got was dark berries and cherries, a luscious fruit compote with very light herbal/bramble undertones. The elusive chocolate/mocha edge developed into a Starbucks frappe (no sugar, though), followed by a mild red-licorice string aftertaste. A sudden epiphany grabbed Don: “Elderberry!” he said. And yes, it could indeed be there. We both recall elderberries from our youth (which was a long time ago, and you know what happens to the acuity of memory).

One reason I believe the wine would age well is the jump-in-the-mouth character of its acids, although the tannin is softening already. The acids brighten the flavors so well that I just know some wine neophytes will say it’s sour; but it is not. Drink and learn.

[Thank you for such a wonderful gift, Evelyn!] — Bob Cramer, The Fearless Taster.