Mabon was September 21st; the Autumn Equinox is today. Since they celebrate the same thing, the balance of light and dark in the sky, it’s strange they aren’t celebrated on the same day, but there you go.
According to Scott Cunningham and his Wicca – A Guide for the Solitary Practicioner, Mabon is the completion of the Harvest begun at Lughnasadh, or Lammas. As he puts it – “Nature declines, draws back its bounty, readying for winter and its time of rest.”
One of three Harvest celebrations in Wicca, the name Mabon to delineate this neopagan festival of the autumn equinox was invented by Aiden Kelly in the 1970s as part of a religious study. Considered to be an American invention, few Briton pagans use it; but as more American Neopagan publications are sold in Britain, the term is gaining in popularity.
“Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World. Considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from toiling in our gardens, working at our jobs, raising our families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life.” For more on Mabon and all Autumn celebrations around the world, drop by a fantastic website called Crystal Links.
But what does this have to do with wine? It’s also a time of winemaking, the first crush, the picking of the grapes. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that?
So by the beautiful Lynne Marshall’s request last week, here are some under $10, juicy Old Vine Zinfandels that you can sink into to help you enjoy the changing of the seasons.
Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin Lodi Zinfandel, Vintage 2009 Alcohol 14.5% by volume – $9.99 at Vons and other fine establishments.
On the Label: “As the truck pulled up to the 80 year old Zinfandel vineyard, my first impression was, “wow, those vines sure have some gnarly heads!” Thus began my love affair with Old Vine Zinfandel. Lodi has some of the oldest vines in Caliofrnia. Unlike modern rows of trellised vines, these old Zinfandel vines were grown as free standing “head trained” vines. Today they resemble wild bushes with twisted old trunks and branches that spread out in all directions sprouting leaves like unruly umbrellas – truly “Gnarly Heads”.
“Our grapes are hand-selected from some of the oldest and most respected vineyards in Lodi. Older vines produce fewer grape clusters, but the small berries yield concentrated fruit flavors characteristic of great Old Vine Zinfandel. Rich, dark berry flavors from the small grape clusters are balanced with French and American oak, which creates layers of licorice, plum, pepper and vanilla. This luscious combination provides a lingering and spicy finish. This wine pairs well with barbecue, pizza, hearty pasta, chili and ribs.”
My Take: Wow, what a label. I enjoyed it, lol…and I don’t always, but this one had just enough information to intrigue me. As to the wine? My first impression was big – thick. Sweeter than I prefer (heads up to those of you who like sweet wines). Lots of dark fruit, with a nice balance of pepper, the first taste was good but the aftertaste even nicer. I quite enjoyed this wine, which means I’ll have to keep checking out Gnarly Head.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ But on the sweeter side. Not my absolute favorite, but a solid wine that didn’t disappoint.
Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 California 13.9% Alcohol by volume. $9.99; on sale fairly regularly for $5.99 at Vons – from the Sebastiani family
My Take: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m a fan of Smoking Loon. Quality wines at reasonable prices – what’s not to like? The Old Vine Zin tastes expensive. It’s big, bold, nicely fruity but with complexity – not a sweet wine at all. Give it some time to open up in your glass, and pair it with hearty, autumn dishes, and it’ll be a wine you will return to again and again. After all, there is much to be said for consistency.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~
AND ONE MORE…
Big House Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines 2010, California $9.99 at Vons
On the Label: “It’s the Cardinal Zin who consoles the straying souls of The Big House. Proud of these dark berries that evoke a sense of envy for their blackberry and peppery flavors, this Zin has been known to elicit lustful feelings and cause mere mortals to covet those long silky legs as they drip down the glass. To avoid the ire of your guests, this wine should be served with a gluttonous feast that includes sloth. Hallowed be thy zin.”
My Take: Love in a glass. I opened it, I poured it, and I fell in love. Big, peppery, warm and comforting, it was the perfect glass to drink with the ever-popular roasted chicken, and broccoli and cauliflower in a rich garlic Alfredo sauce. Plus, with a screw top, you don’t have to fuss too much before you actually get to the wine. It’s a fun wine to give, to serve, or to savor by yourself by the fire on a chilly night.
My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable! ~
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As usual, this is just my honest opinion and will totally depend upon my mood, the weather, and how much sleep I’m getting. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Give yourself a present – buy it now, lol!
Thanks for this information. I love Smoking Loon. If it weren’t eight in the morning, I would have a glass right now.
I’m right there with you, Janie! Thanks for dropping in!
That Cardinal Zin sounds great. Will have to give it a try. I’m from the Cali desert, a LARAite, but don’t put my name into the book drawing as I have the book, and am currently enjoying the read. : )
Hey Roben – hugs! Glad you’re enjoying DEMON SOUL! And I’d recognize your picture and name anywhere, dear!
I love Zin but haven’t been very experimental with it. California Wines are the best I’m proud to say. All of those wines sound wonderful to me!! Love the labels too. I will admit to occasionally buying wine if they have an interesting label and often I’m surprised at how good it is.
I’m with you, Charlene. I love to find funny labels, and then keep my fingers crossed that the wine is tasty.
Hmm, not normally a Zin fan at all, but all of these sound good (except I’ll skip the sweeter one). I am going to go look for the Cardinal Zin but won’t be able to drink it for a couple of weeks. (Boo)
Ah Maria. I hope all is well with you! And yeah – I’ll keep my eye on Gnarly Head, but probably won’t pick up another bottle of the Zin. Cheers!
Can I play even if I’m drinking my beer? I could have it in a wine glass. (g)
Where did Mabon get its name? Is it connected to the Mabinogion? (My WIP is inspired by one of its branches.)
Thanks for the Zin reviews. The Cardinal Zin photo looks like a box wine and says three liters. I’m assuming your price quote was based on 750ml? Otherwise, it’s the biggest bargain going. Because I live alone, I love box wine, as there’s no pressure to finish quickly. Have you tried Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel?
Happy Mabon/Equinox. May your harvest be bountiful.
Sally, I’m not sure what Aiden Kelly was thinking when Mabon was picked – probably had something to do with it sounding Celtic-ish? Not sure if there’s any connection with the Mabinogion (fascinating!).
And yes, the Cardinal Zin photo was of a box – and my pricing was for 750 ml so you are correct again!
I haven’t tried any of the Bota boxed wines yet – our refrigerator is small and bottles fit better than boxes at this point. But thanks for asking!
Of COURSE, Dee J!!! By the way, fellow beer drinkers seem to really like Stella Artois. Is it that good? Sexy glass, I’ll admit, but…? Let me know!
Yep. I do love my Stella. Might have to crack one open after the day I had.
LARA sister here – info on new/old pagan traditions and wine, what’s not to love? I actually prefer sweet wines, wish more vineyards put out rosés, and generally settle for white zins as the next best thing.
Thanks for the tips – the labels and info are hysterical, and it’s good to get an opinion from somebody who’s actually tasted the wine. I’ll have to look for some of these, next time I’m wine-shopping.
Beverly, lovely to see you here! My sweet wine taste comes out in late spring and through summer, when its breathlessly hot – otherwise, I tend toward the big bold reds or the rich, buttery and oaky whites.
And as far as tasting the wine – well, it’s a tough job, but I live to serve.