ZOMBIE Zin and Zombie Chard may appear as just more Halloween promotions, but they pleasantly surprised me. For being ten-dollar, screwcap, nonvintage wines with mean dudes on the labels, they had good flavors and balance. They are made by Chateau Diana in Healdsburg, Calif., owned and operated by the Manning family, which now has the third generation learning the wine biz. The Manning wine story is a good one: Check the About tab at the Web site.
Zombie Zin California Zinfandel NV, $10: A blend of 89 percent Zinfandel and 11 percent Syrah, it has nice dark berry-cherry fruit with notes of mocha, cola and spice.
Zombie Chard California Chardonnay NV, $10: The added 4 percent Sauvignon Blanc to the Chardonnay gives a nice pop of green herbal and citrus tones to the apple-pear-peach notes of the Chardonnay. No oak.
THE CLEAVER Red Blend, adorned with a very large knife in the center of the label, could transmit some fright and fun into Halloween festivities, though the sharp-edged utensil is intended to tell you what to pair with this robust red wine: Steak! The SRP is $19.99. It’s a blend dominated by zinfandel grapes from Amador County; the style is rich and creamy.
The Cleaver Red Blend California 2014, $19.99: This bold, rich red blend, composed of 74 percent zinfandel, 21 percent petite sirah and 5 percent syrah, is anything but petite. It’s packed with dark berry fruit with notes of brown baking spice, coffee bean, dark chocolate and vanilla. Tannins are soft, mouthfeel is creamy. Alcohol is not shy either — 14.7 percent. It was barrel-aged 16 months in 30 percent new French oak. Even with a name like The Cleaver, it’s not a gimmicky wine — it’s a serious red blend to pair with a seriously big steak.
You can reach Sandra Silfven at firstname.lastname@example.org.