As many of you might know I have a thing for Zin. There are few wines that embody the warmth, openness and sophistication of the California wine industry more than Zinfandel. It's California's own Great wine, even if its journey to the West Coast was long and mysterious.
There's a lot to like about Zinfandel; it's got great fruit, it's usually pretty friendly to one's wallet, it's made in many styles and some of the best come from the Country's finest old vine plantings that are either Zinfandel or field blends that are predominantly Zinfandel.
Some Zinfandel Trivia!
- Zinfandel was originally brought from Europe to the east coast and was used to grow table grapes in greenhouses.
- Zinfandel is actually Croatia's own Crljenak Kastelanski!
- Zinfandel and Italy's Primitivo are siblings.
- Most of the great old vine Zinfandel vineyards in California were actually saved by the White Zinfandel explosion of the 1980s, which quickly increased demand for these overlooked treasures!
Old VinesOne of the most popular styles of Zinfandel today relies on old vines to give depth and richness to the wine with a moderate use of oak to add some spice. These are wonderfully friendly and flexible wines at really affordable price points.
2006 Rodney Strong Sonoma County Knotty Vines Zinfandel
Full of bright red fruit and a gentle, woodsy note. This is rich and exuberant with medium body and fine balance. It's an all around winner!
2007 Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
This is still explosively grapy but with incipient notes of bittersweet chocolate, blackberry and iron just waiting to completely this exceptionally well balanced and harmonious wine. Delicious and pure!
Rich FruitWhile the over-wrought Fruit Bomb style of winemaking has, thankfully, begun to fall out of favor, Zinfandel is ideally suited to producing particularly fruity wines. When done well the resultant wines are remarkably appealing if rich and intense.
2006 Frank Family Zinfandel Napa Valley
Big, bold and exotic with layers of wild berries and deep, peppery, tar and spice tones in a rich, polished style with great, chewy tannins.
2006 Four Vines The Sophisticate Sonoma County
Spicy and rich in the mouth with dark berry fruit, wood spice and vanilla in balance and surprisingly complexity and nuance for such a big wine.
Elegance and ComplexityUltimately, the greatest expressions of Zinfandel tend to be pure old vine bottlings and some of the more restrained wines that harken back to the Claret style of Zinfandel upon which the wine's fame was built. While at opposite ends of the spectrum these two wines each provide exceptional drinking and capture the essence of what Zinfandel is all about!
2006 Neyers High Valley Vineyards Napa Valley
Rich and plummy on the nose with elegant notes of pencil shavings and fine French oak adding complexity and depth to this remarkably precise and subtle wine. Claret style Zinfandel at its best!
2005 Kunde Estate Sonoma Valley
This rocks! It effortlessly pumps out classic old-vine Zin texture and richness with near perfect balance. With an absolutely seductive mouthfeel, a mid-palate bursting with complex fruit tones and a perfect backing note of American oak, this is hard to beat! A great value!
While it is time to say good bye rest assured we will revisit Zinfandel soon. While it tends to be a rich, powerful red it is a surprising yet natural match for summer days. Preferably those summer days that involve large cuts of meats, natural wood charcoal, and slow smoking, if you know what I mean!
For now, however, we bid good bye to Zin and hello to Grenache as we begin to explore the heart and soul of some of the most famous French wines of the Rhone valley, Gigondas, Chateaunuef du Pape, not to mention Spain, Sardinia, California...