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Zinfandel & Crispy Duck

Sonoma is famed for its duck farms and its Zinfandel producers. The pairing on these pages brings the two together: crisp-skinned duck breast in a lush fig sauce and a full-bodied, ultrafruity Zin from the hundred-year-old winery Kunde Estate. The combination is so appealing it might tempt you to serve duck instead of turkey this Thanksgiving.


Zinfandel, the spicy red wine with a berry perfume, is all but synonymous with Sonoma, thanks to families like the Kundes. Five generations have farmed wine grapes in the Valley since German émigré Louis Kunde bought the old Wildwood Vineyards in 1904. (Some of Wildwood's now 122-year-old vines still supply Kunde's "Century Vines" Zinfandel.) Kunde's original purchase has since grown to 2,000 acres, and although the family produces many other wines, Zinfandel still has a special place. "There's something bigger-than-life about most Zins," says Kunde's winemaker, David Noyes, "and the 2001 Kunde Estate Sonoma Valley ($16) is no exception." Full-bodied and bursting with cherry fruit, it's a perfect match to the rich flavors of duck, says Leslie Kunde, the family matriarch. Though both have big flavors, together they are more than the sum of their parts.

—Richard Nalley

Published November 2004


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