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1979 Sausal Sonoma Zin?

I'm catering a rather high end, small affair for some serious wine afficionados and wine judges. They are supplying the wine and it is up to me to create their menu based on what they're providing.

I have the first two courses are already paired just fine, but I am in need of two main courses to go with a 1979 Sausal Sonoma zinfandel and I'm having a hard time finding adequate information on what this will be like. Any input would be great!

FYI, the first two courses are going to be paired with a Langworth von Simmern 1971 Rheingau Eltviller Sonnenberg and will feature sea urchin and lobster. Each course is small, so two main courses are needed for that zin.

I always get such great wine advice here...thanks in advance!

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  1. I'm not sure about that zin in particular. But in general, it will still have some fruit and spice and be rather plush in mouth feel (if it has been stored well). Will probably be a little low on acid, Definitely should be paired with pork, lamb or beef. A recipe with a bit of char. I wouldn't go with a rich cream or butter sauce as I don't think it will have the acids or tannin to cut through the cream.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      "in general, it will still have some fruit and spice"

      being unfamiliar with the wine, why do you think this?

      If you think it will be low in acidity (which does not bodes well for age, does it?) wouldn't you think a less rich dish than lamb or beef? In keeping with Zin heritage, how about a lean venison or better yet buffalo?

      1. re: FrankJBN

        My experience with Zins generally, and searching cellartracker notes for reviews of old Sausal Zins.

        I'm definitely sure that it will be lower in acidity than say a Burgandy of the same age (in general). I think what to pair with a low acid wine really depends on the person. There's definitely ways and cuts of lamb and beef that don't read super fatty/rich to me, but definitely YMMV.

    2. Again, l am not familiar with that specific wine, but had a 1979 Sutter Home Amador magnum some months back and was perfect with grilled butterflied leg of lamb.

      1. All I know about Sausal is that I enjoyed this $15 wine for current drinking in the 80's and 90s. I would never have anticipated (and today I am not sure I believe) that these wines would age gracefully for 3 decades+.

        1. As to your menu, I suggest you look to any recommendations for extremely aged reds.

          At 33 years of age, I can't imagine the Sausal has any of what are thought of as Zinfandelof characteristic flavors/aromas.

          1 Reply
          1. re: FrankJBN

            Frank? Just curious, are you familiar with this wine? Why would you think that?

          2. I have not tried an aged Sausal. Typically, a Zin that aged won't taste like Zin, it will taste more like a cab blend.
            Please report back and let us know how it went!

            1. Turns out both the Sausal and the German wine were FANTASTIC.

              Here was the final menu:

              Langworth Von Simmern 1971 Rheingau Eltviller Sonnenberg

              Chesapeake Bay Soft-Shell Crab “Sandwich” with Tomato Confit, Radish Sprouts and Fried Capers, in a Cornichon Brunoise Sauce

              Mousse of Sea Urchin with Ginger Vinaigrette and Frazzled Leeks atop a Crispy Pappadum with Kumquat Salsa

              Salmon Tartare with Sweet Red Onion Crème Fraiche in an Onion Seed Basket, with Warm Cilantro Panna Cotta


              Sausal Sonoma 1978 Zinfandel (it was a 78, not a 79 as I originally reported)

              Seed Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Mustard Blackberry Sauce and a Pommes de Terre William

              Carpaccio of Rib Eye Steak with Firefly Farms Tomato Jam, Parsnip and Roasted Fennel Puree, and a Point Reyes Blue Cheese Wedge


              I am, unfortunately, not qualifed to report on the actual qualities of these wines, but I can tell you both experts were absolutely thrilled with how well they both aged. Of course, they've been kept the entire time in a fabulous wine cellar, never moved, and just about perfect temperature conditions the entire time -- same owner, same cellar.

              And to FrankJBN, I actually did think about buffalo, believe it or not! But then when I was buying the sea urchin the Japanese butcher had some gorgeous ribeye sliced paper thin...couldn't resist...and that, with the tomato jam, parsnip and fennel puree, and local blue cheese was perfect.

              Thank you everyone -- your input was so appreciated! I'm hired indefinitely for these soirees...I'm sure there will be another one in the fall!

              2 Replies
              1. re: tsfirefly

                "I am, unfortunately, not qualifed to report on the actual qualities of these wines, but I can tell you both experts were absolutely thrilled with how well they both aged"

                perhaps not qualified to comment on actual qaulities as a professional, but as we've seen in plenty of photos, even infants find themselves qualified to indicate whether they like something that has been put i their mouths.

                Did you like them or not.? Particularly the Zin. If you noticed, you could say what the color was, if the wine smelled sweet and fruity, earthy and leathery or sour.

                1. re: tsfirefly

                  Not surprising. Not only was 1971 an outstanding vintage for German wines, and for Von Simmern in particular, but the Sausal was structured for longevity. I've had the 1978 (and the 1979) Sausal Zin on several occasions and, while I confess I wouldn't have necessarily thought it would last some 33+ years, 20-25 wouldn't have surprised me.