Fire up the Grill! Robert Biale Vineyards 2018 Old Kraft Vineyard Zinfandel and “The Smash Burger”

Hello Friends, 

In case you didn’t know, July happens to be National Grilling Month. Time to fire up the grill, catch some sunshine, and celebrate. If you’re like me, besides getting some grilled (or smoked) deliciousness into your belly, music, a glass of wine or craft cider—have to get that apple a day—and a little relaxation are all part of the experience. I recently had an opportunity to participate in a fun-filled virtual tasting hosted by Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) that highlighted some pretty wonderful single-vineyard Zinfandels. As a bonus, each participating winery sent along a grilling recipe to pair with their wine. 

Robert Biale 2018 Old Kraft Vineyard Zinfandel

I got the grilling party started with The Fried-Onion Burger recipe by hamburger scholar George Motz. Every Tuesday at Napa Valley’s Robert Biale Vineyards, the winery team grills a slightly modified version of the recipe and calls it The Smash Burger. For me, when it comes to burgers, less is often more, as too many toppings and sauces can ruin an otherwise good burger. I mean, you don’t want to compete with or overpower the star of the show: the meat patty. This is where The Smash Burger shines. It’s very simple—consisting mainly of fresh ground chuck, Vidalia onions, American cheese, and buttered and toasted Hawaiian buns —yet it's an absolute pleasure to bite into hot off the grill.

Headed to the store for fresh ground beef then it’s grilling (and sipping) time!

Robert Biale Vineyards specialize in small-production, old-vine Zinfandel, and their selection from Old Kraft Vineyard was a great match for the recipe. Old Kraft Vineyard was established in the late 1800s by Franz Kraft, a prominent winemaker in the early days of St. Helena. The patch of vines, which had been neglected, is part of the family estate of Bill and Margie Hart. Along with vineyard gurus Bill Pease and Bob Biale, they saved a valuable slice of Napa Valley vineyard history. Starting in 2002, the vines were restored to productive health, and Robert Biale Vineyards bottled the first vintage in 2006. The burgers, combined with the energetic personality of the wine and interplay between the sweet, grilled onions and bright berry flavors in the wine, made for a perfect marriage of food and wine. Grab your apron and fire up the grill, folks! For The Smash Burger recipe, please click here. For further information and where you can find the Zinfandel (history in the glass!), see my tasting notes below. You'll enjoy it and thank me later!

Smash burgers (on a grill mat or else they’d fall through the grates), regular burgers, bacon—which makes everything tastes better, buttered Hawaiian buns, all washed down with Robert Biale Vineyards’ delicious '18 ‘Old Kraft Vineyard’ Zinfandel. Not pictured: air-fryer garlic parmesan fries.

Robert Biale 2018 Old Kraft Vineyard Zinfandel (SRP $55): This appealing Zinfandel is made from truly old vines, dating back to circa 1890. A deep ruby color, the wine is beautifully defined by gracefulness, good depth, fine-grained tannins, and a bright personality. Vibrant aromas of black cherry and red plum combine with tea leaf, spice tones, and hints of complex savory elements on the palate, ending with notable length. Though full-bodied, the wine is impeccably balanced and light on its feet. It is drinking nicely right now, but I have a feeling its best is yet to come. Only 367 cases of this wine were produced. Region: St. Helena, Napa Valley, California. Other info: ABV 14.6%, hand-sorted, pressed to Burgundian oak—24% new, aged 11 months, natural cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine. 

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