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…
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! ~
~ ~ ~
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! ~