Even before I opened it, this 2016 Cycles Gladiator Zinfandel had already made a good impression with its art deco (or is it art nouveau?) label. Sure, you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover and all that. But who doesn’t want to feel like they’re in Pigalle in 1891 while they’re enjoying a glass of wine?
Not everyone, it appears. Having posted a pic of the label on my Instagram (@thewineninjas), the retailers who sent me the wine (www.8wines.com) commented that it had been banned in certain US states. Humans are so weird. We have the technology to identify the chemical composition of exoplanets in distant solar systems… but we can’t handle a painting of a naked body. At least, some of us can’t.
Well, it’s their loss. Personally, I love Cali Zinfandel, and this — made by Hahn Family Wines in the Lodi region of central California — is a feisty one.
As you’d expect, it’s profoundly deep in colour, while its tannins are medium to soft. Smokey cherry and strong alcohol dominate initially, with a background of chocolate and a subtle hint of liquorice and menthol emerging with oxidation. If you have a cold, this’ll clear your nasal passages.
There are a couple of reasons behind its distinctive smokiness. Firstly, it isn’t 100% Zinfandel; rather it’s a blend with 12% Petite Syrah. Additionally, it’s been aged for 17 months American oak, which smooths it out, as well as imparting those spicy, smokey notes.
This robust and hearty red will suit fans of Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon who are looking for something a touch more unusual. It’s not for the faint hearted though — no wonder they call it the Gladiator.
4 NINJA STARS
The 2016 Hahn Family Cycles Gladiator Zinfandel (14.5% volume) can be bought from www.8wines.com. The price at the time of writing is £13.08 per bottle.
Use the special Wine Ninjas code WNINJAS8 at the checkout and you’ll get an 8% discount on any orders over 100 Euro.