Dueling Pistols is the latest in The Federalist series from the Terlato Wine Group. According to their website, “The Federalist Wines were created to pay homage to our Founding Fathers. Bold men of principle, whose pioneering spirit helped make the United States the great country it is today.” This wine is certainly not shy, coming in at 15.1% alcohol. Made from 50% Zinfandel and 50% Syrah from the Dry Creek Valley AVA in Sonoma County, California, Dueling Pistols’ concept is a nod to the famous political and personal feud between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, ultimately concluding in a duel which ends with Burr’s death. (I envision two bunches of Zinfandel and Syrah grapes facing off in the vineyard in a battle to the bitter end.) While there’s no bitterness to be had—I suspect due to a healthy dose of residual sugar—the characteristics of the grape duo complement each other: The Zinfandel’s big jammy blackberry and black cherry flavors meld well with the earth and spice of the Syrah. However, both varieties seem to be grappling with the 15 months in 20% new oak barrels used in this wine, the characteristics of which are extremely prevalent. The right pairing helped calm the fruit/oak duel, though; this wine went swimmingly with spicy weeknight beef chili. The residual sugar and jammy fruit calmed the heat of the chili, and the ample chili spice made the wine seem drier. The peppery acidity in the chili defeated the overly assertive oak, too. The suggested retail price for The Federalist Dueling Pistols is $29, putting it at least $10-15 higher than similar big, easy-drinking, slightly sweet California red wines. Other wines in The Federalist series include Chardonnay, Visionary Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Zinfandel, Honest Red Blend.
Disclosure: Wine samples were provided courtesy of Terlato Wines for review. All opinions are my own.