The Best of Zinfandel
An amazing line up of the very best Zinfandels
It's not often that I have a plan. Well, a detailed plan at least.. Some sort of a plan not being a requirement for those in this business. But a detailed plan, and over-arching theme for a visit to wine country can certainly come in handy.
This month’s, or rather last month’s theme was, surprisingly enough: Zinfandel. I say surprisingly because in a land full of vines, Zinfandel accounts for about 50,000 acres out of California’s over half million acres of vineyards. That 10% is about half the acreage of either Chardonnay or Cabernet, almost the same as Merlot and more than Pinot Noir’s 40,000 acres, which surprised me. Based on this I should only be devoting about 10% of my California coverage to Zinfandel, right?
Even with all this land under vine Zin doesn’t get 10% of the wine coverage out there. And what’s with Pinot? Probably the second most heavily written about variety in California and a wine that has seen production quintuple over the past decade while Zinfandel’s has remained fairly stable. In these number lies two stories.. The first is why Zin is not that heavily written about, it’s popularity has remained stable, and truth be told as with most wines that popularity is mostly built upon rather inexpensive and not terribly distinctive wines.
The stability of Zin production hints at another story, more positive, and in fact the germ of this story right here. All those acres that are producing Zin today, well they were producing Zin ten years ago, and ten years before that and so on, and so on, in some case back a century or more. Not only is there a story to be told about old vine Zinfandel, but there is a lesson to be learned, quite literally. These old vine vineyards are producing some fantastic wines at affordable prices. But there’s more! Order today and not only will you get a great value wine but you’ll get terroir absolutely free. That’s where my plan really came together. A plan to discover more of the terroir of Zinfandel.
Yes, that’s right I said terroir. Not terroir in the "Oh this smells like an expensive Cabernet" kind of way but terroir in the Carol Shelton Maple Vineyard Zin smells like the Bella Maple Vineyard Zin kind of way. I’m telling you folks that some of the greatest examples of terroir in California are found in Zinfandel. OK, shoot the messenger. I freely admit that I am still early in my learning curve in regards to this, though I’ve been fascinated by both the story of and the taste of these single vineyard Zins since about 1990, but I’ve only been able to make certain connections more recently.
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