Widely heralded as the “Queen of Zin,“ Sonoma County’s Carol Shelton consistently produces highly regarded, fruit-forward wines at extremely reasonable prices. We have featured her on Instagram and have made several visits to her Santa Rosa tasting room. On our last visit in January our executive board was treated to a private room tasting. We enjoyed many of her flagship Zinfandels but our favorite was her Black Magic Late Harvest Zinfandel, whether it be the 2011 pictured here or a more recent varietal that carries the Wild Thing label, it is our April featured wine.
A late harvest wine is one in which the grapes are left on the vine long after the normal harvest, perhaps a couple of months. This causes the grapes to dehydrate and the sugars to become more concentrated. It may also typically produce a higher alcohol content. It is a wine you would enjoy with a dessert or cheese plate. Some love late harvest wines as a dessert unto themselves while others find them to be too sweet for their palate.
The 2011 Black Magic we tasted at Carol Shelton was exquisite and luscious, made of 87% late harvest Zinfandel and 13% Tinta Madeira Port. It was satisfyingly sweet with a smooth finish. It’s described by Carol Shelton as follows: “Inky blue-purple in color, yummy deep razz-blackberry jam and luscious dark chocolate of oak spices, sweet but not clumsy, pleasingly balanced with a bit a tartness, not at all hotly alcoholic, bit of warm vanilla at finish.”
We enjoyed our 2011 Black Magic with dark chocolate while playing The Great Dalmuti after dinner. It received wide praise.
Of course, at Peninsula Underground our mission is to find great value in wines for our followers and the Black Magic delivers. You can find a current Wild Thing Black Magic on wine.com for $18.99 a bottle. For those interested in comparing varietals through the years, you can go to the Carol Shelton website and order “library” Black Magic at $20 a bottle.
In short, the Queen of Zin won us over with all the wines we tried but the sublime Black Magic Late Harvest Zinfandel earned our top score of 5 Corks for its taste and value and for that reason is our April wine-of-the-month.