Gallo refines, and redefines, its Barefoot Zinfandel

Barefoot Zinfandel, Lodi, Non-vintage.

It’s interesting that the New World International Wine Competition in 2011 named this wine its Best of Class. Interesting, because when Barefoot first appeared a couple of decades ago, it was hand-fashioned by the son of Davis Bynum using Russian River Valley grapes even in bottles labeled more generically, “California.” The wine, then, was rich and even arresting, coming from the heart of “America’s Burgundy.” Today it’s rich in a much subtler way, and it comes from a young new viticultural area, Lodi, in the northern California delta.

This area offers high quality but low “blockbuster” characteristics. So it’s ideally suited to light to medium foods. We tasted it last night with grilled teriyaki chicken thighs which I’d marinated in a rich but restrained manner, and it worked well with the meat and with Omaha Steaks’ stuffed baked potato shells. It even worked with the orange-cream sauce, with orange chunks, I’d thrown in with long steamed julienned carrots and Trader Joe’s skinny, delicious haricot beans.

I wrote down several words to illustrate the Barefoot Zin’s versatility: soft, round, fruity (“cherry and wild raspberry,” the label says); clean but not citric or tannic.

Something I’ve always written about Gallo applies here. At every price level, Gallo’s famed labs always have controlled whether or not a wine is bottled and sold by approving its quality level with no regard to proposed selling price. If it’s flawed, Gallo won’t market it. Trust me. Trust them!

As I write, the morning after the party meal I described above, I tried the wine in the bottom of the bottle with bites of Trader Joe’s mild to medium soft chevre goat cheese. The Barefoot’s fruitiness immediately bloomed well beyond how we’d sensed it last night. So just for fun, I tried the cheese with Charles Shaw Shiraz, which is very tasty but really is best with lamb and grilled beef. With the chevre, the Shiraz was okay but it certainly didn’t bloom! It remained a great lamb, herb and garlic partner. Just thought you might like to know. Bob Cramer, The Fearless Taster.