California Wines in Brandon's Shopping Cart - Gray Mackenzie & Partners, Abu Dhabi

California is a unique area for wine as it produces not only  a variety of styles of wine, that variety extends to the grapes too. Not only can you find Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and the other so called noble types, you also find Malbec, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and many others. It is truly an exciting geographic area and one of the most prolific producers of wine. It was no surprise therefore that I went shopping for California wines on my most recent visit to Gray Mackenzie & Partners at their flagship store at the Hilton, Capital Grand in Abu Dhabi.

The Sonoma County Zinfandel 2013 is the first one I try at home. I find it deeply coloured, with pepper notes as I take a whiff. It is therefore both spicy and fruity - quite a full bodied wine too. I find that whenever I have pasta, I want to have a red, unless I am having a  seafood based pasta. Tonight I am having a tomato penne pasta with chicken strips but the fullness of the wine does not overpower the dish too much. I just really wanted pasta. I think sometimes we become obsessed with pairing - it is ok to just enjoy a wine with your favourite dish, especially when you are at home and there is no one to judge you! 

This is a lovely wine and at 105AED, would be actually be an ideal 'take to your friends' dinner party' wine - it is priced in the mid range and I think your friends will welcome by this wine - Zinfandel wines are not picked up my many people and this is a wine you do no not see on by the glass wine lists in Abu Dhabi. Highly recommended. 

The Sonoma County Chardonnay 2013 is an interesting choice. I have avoided Chardonnays these years, mainly because of the disappointing choices I have tried at brunches in the city. However, this Chardonnay surprises me with its fruitiness, but don't worry, it is definitely nice and dry. Look out for pineapple when you sip it.

We have it with an oven baked  Mediterranean sea bass, lightly seasoned but with generous olive oil. It is a wine that is quite accessible, especially if you usually do not go for dry wines. I think this will surprise you. On a final note, the oakiness is inescapable. With wines like this, I would avoid those 40AED wines that often tempt one because they are well priced. I am yet to find a nice 40AED Chardonnay. Interestingly, the cheaper Merlots tend not to be so bad. Recommended.

Finally, we have the 2012 Kenwood Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon - what a cool bottle this with no paper label. It is really eye catching, isn't it? A pouring tells me it is deep cherry i colour and when I smell it, black cherry fills the air. On tasting, I find it full and very smooth. Even though i did not decant it, I feel it is actually ready for drinking. While  a sirloin would not be out of place paired with this wine, tonight my friend has made some pork adobo,  a popular dish  from the Philippines. The wine is quite versatile and I reckon it should pair quite exceptionally well with a steak of course, but also try it with lamb and chicken.  This is a wonderful wine and while at 165AED it is the priciest wine on offer this month, make sure you save this for that evening when you want to show your more appreciative guests something different.  It really is a smooth wine with a fabulous finish.  Recommended

Overall, three very good inclusions in my shopping cart. These three wines would be be great on any dinner table. These are three wines I rate highly and it is no surprise that when I checked online, they all averaged scores around 90 and above among wine publications.  I think the Chardonnay will not actually be bad as an an aperitif. You know, pour it as guests arrive while serving anything seafood or chicken based in terms of finger food. As for the two reds, you can decide based on your budget. The Kenwood Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is very good and you will not be disappointed.  Similarly, though, the Sonoma County Zinfandel 2013 is an excellent, and at 60AED cheaper than the former, it is my pick for this cart! 

The Essentials

Gray Mackenzie & Partners
Basement of The Hilton Capital Grand Hotel
Airport Road,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 4449773

Opening Hours
Friday 4pm-10pm

Please drink responsibly and respect local laws and customs.