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Posts Tagged ‘#ZinfandelDay’

Celebrate Zinfandel – 2017 Edition

November 16, 2017 7 comments

– “Would you like a glass of Zinfandel”?

– “ahh, sorry, I don’t drink sweet wines”

Have you ever witnessed such dialog, at a bar, restaurant or a tasting? For all of us, oenophiles, the word “Zinfandel” has only one meaning – dense, smokey, brooding, concentrated red wine, with a good amount of fruit and spice. However, for many wine drinkers, the descriptor associated with the Zinfandel is “white” – and the white zinfandel, indeed, is a sweet wine, and it still confuses people.

Zinfandel is often called “an American grape”, despite the fact that it came to America from Croatia (or maybe Italy), where it had a few names on its own. From point of view of the science, Crljenak Kaštelanski, Tribidrag, Primitivo and Zinfandel are all different names for the same grape. From point of view of the producers – not so much, but this is not the subject of to0day’s post.

Zinfandel is really an American phenomenon. It shows the best results in California, and there it can be produced pretty much in any AVA. Napa Valley and Dry Creek Valley are considered two of the top AVAs for Zinfandel. However, last year I visited Lodi as part of the wine bloggers conference, and I absolutely fell in love with the Zinfandel wines Lodi produces.

Zinfandel Day_AutoCollage

Forty percent of all Zinfandel in California is growing in Lodi, which is rightfully crowned as “Zinfandel Capital”. Lodi is a home to some of the oldest Zinfandel vineyard, dating back to 1888. Lodi also has 750 growers tending to 110,000 acres of the vines. In 2013, winemakers in Lodi started the project called “Lodi Native” – 6 winemakers set the minimalist rules to how the wine can be made, and all 6 winemakers followed the same rules regarding fermentation, use of oak and ageing, so you can taste the difference in the vineyards which bore fruit, unadulterated. Last year I had an opportunity to taste all of the Lodi Native Zinfandel wines, which were pronouncedly different – hopefully, I will still write that post one day…

Good Zinfandel wines might be called the most playful red wines – my favorite descriptor for Zinfandel is “smokey raspberry”, and I’m always very happy to find that in the glass. Even when the label says “Zinfandel”, there are typically few other grapes added to the blend, often in minuscule quantities – Petite Sirah, Cinsault, Alicante Bouschet are all popular blending partners of Zinfandel. There are lots of Zinfandel producers, but I have my own list of personal favorites which I’m happy to share, in no particular order: Carlisle, Rober Biale, St. Francis, Turley, Harney Lane, Bruce Patch, Ridge.

How did you celebrate Zinfandel Day? Who is your favorite producer? Cheers!

My #ZinfandelDay experiences – [mostly value] Zinfandels

November 22, 2014 9 comments

I like to celebrate grape holidays in a close proximity of my wine fridge – there is always a good chance that I have a good bottle of the appropriate celebratory wine. So if I would’ve been next to my cellar for the #ZinfandelDay, I would be able to chose between Turley, Carlisle and St. Francis – not too shabby, right? Only I wasn’t. I was traveling, so it was the whole different game.

Once again, I was in California. As it was mentioned many times in this blog, when I’m in a close proxomity of Trader Joe’s which sells wine, then Trader Joe’s it is. So I went to Trader Joe’s and bought 3 different Zinfandel wines – two of the Trader Joe’s own labels, and Ravenswood. Literally next door to my hotel, on my way back, I saw a store called Grocery Outlet, which I never heard of before. So I had to stop by and check it out. Interestingly enough, the store also had a wine section with the number of very interesting bottles, with prices starting from $2.99. When I saw another Zinfandel at $5.99, it was also quick and easy decision. And now, there were four.

Below I will share with you my notes on the wines, which ranged in prices from $4.99 to $9.99. Some of the takeaways were quite interesting, as I tasted the wines over a few days, but I will let you read through my notes as they are. And there was one more Zinfandel to mention. Here we go:

zinfandels2012 Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Vintners Blend California (13.5% ABV, $7.99) – Crushed red fruit on the nose, touch of earthiness. Palate is a little thin on the finish, first showing a burst of dark fruit and smoke, but again, the finish was disintegrated with sharp acidity. This was the end of my notes on the first day – as you can see, I didn’t really like it. At the end of the second day, however, the wine showed a lot more round, integrated and balanced – dark fruit, spices and touch of herbs (sage). Drinkability: 7+

2013 Trader Joe’s Zinfandel Growers’s Reserve Paso Robles (13.5% ABV, $4.99, made with organically grown grapes) – Touch of fresh berries on the nose. Smoke, clean fruit, blueberries and blackberries on the palate. Clean, simple, easy to drink. Opened up even more at the end of day 3 (!) – smoke, sandalwood, round with nice open complexity. My favorite out of the 4. Drinkability: 7+/8-

2012 Trader Joe’s Reserve Zinfandel Lot #92 Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County (14.5% ABV, $9.99) – dark fruit on the nose with touch of blackberries. Hint of smoke and roasted notes on the palate, blackberries, restrained, somewhat round, but need more substance. This was the end of the day 1 – an okay wine (I’ve been nice here), but not anything interesting. At the end of the day 3 (!), very noticeable tannins came out with smoke and dark fruit, overall much better than before. Needs time? Drinkability: 7-/7+ (on day 3)

2009 Parallax Zinfandel Amador County, Sierra Foothills (15.1% ABV, $5.99 at Grocery Outlet)  – touch of fresh blueberries on the nose, just a touch. Round, clean, blackberries on the palate. Touch of earthiness. Finish somewhat lacking, need more complexity – this was an initial assessment at the end of the day 1. At the end of the  day 2 – nice complexity, spices, lots of blackberries, very noticeable tannins. An excellent steak wine, good balance, more dark fruit. Very impressive. Drinkability: 8-

So what do you think? A very interesting experience, if you ask me. It took these wines a few days to change and open up – the biggest winners were Parallax Zinfandel and Ravenswood, which improved quite a bit, from barely drinkable to pretty much delicious. And the most interesting wine was probably the least expensive Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Zinfandel, which tasted fine from the very beginning and even throughout the three days. Considering its taste profile, it would make it a perfect Thanksgiving wine, as it will match a wide range of flavors.

Well, to top it all off, I need to include one more Zinfandel here. On the exact #ZinfandelDay, we had dinner at the 71 Saint Peter restaurant in San Jose, and as you can imagine, I wanted to start the dinner with the Zinfandel, just to properly acknowledge the holiday. Out of only three Zinfandel wines available on the wine list, 2012 Peachy Canyon Westside Zinfandel Paso Robles (14.5% ABV, $22 winery, $45 at the restaurant) was highly recommended by the staff. You know, when you drink the wine in the restaurant, you don’t have a luxury of playing with it for 3 days to see what will happen… The wine had ripe blackberries on the nose, and was dark, firm and concentrated on the palate, and also had some nice black fruit. I think it would open up more if it was given a chance, but it was gone way too quickly, so in the interest of fairness, I will not rate this wine.

There you have it, my friends – my [mostly value] Zinfandel experiences, with some interesting outcome, when even the inexpensive wines can evolve and surprise you. How was your #ZinfandelDay? Cheers!

 

Wednesday’s Meritage – #MWWC13 Reminder, Zinfandel Day, How To Start A Blog, WS Top 100 and more

November 19, 2014 11 comments

MWWC_logoMeritage Time!

Lots of things to share – let’s  get to it! First of all – the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #13. The theme is Serendipity, and I really hope the theme is intriguing enough to see a lot of entries in the contest! For all the rules and regulations, please take a look at this post.

Last week we celebrated Tempranillo, and yet another grape holiday is upon us. On Wednesday, November 19th, we are celebrating an iconic American grape – Zinfandel! The Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah wines are made pretty much everywhere in the world – but Zinfandel, in its pure form, is a real representative of an American winemaking culture. It is very easy to celebrate Zinfandel – just find a bottle of your favorite Zin, open it up and say “wow”. That’s all what is required.

When it rains, it pours. Wednesday is a Zinfandel holiday, but on Thursday, November 20th, we are going to celebrate the new grape harvest! November 20th is a third Thursday of the month of November, which means … yes, Beaujolais Nouveau time! I know, Beaujolais Nouveau often gets bad rap from the wine aficionados, but to me, the wine considerably improved over the last 5-6 years, and now it is a real wine which gives you real pleasure. I’m very much looking forward to tasting the 2014 Beaujolais Nouveau. And don’t forget that this new wine is celebrated all over the world – from Paris to New York to Washington to Chicago, you can find many events celebrating new harvest and life – just use the faithful Google, it will help you find the live event if you care to attend one.

On Monday, November 17th, Wine Spectator released its annual Top 100 Wines List for 2014. 2011 Dow Vintage Point was declared the wine of the year. What is amazing to me is that my friend Zak (wine store owner), predicted this exact wine to be the wine of the year in 2013 – and now it is, only one year later – that is very impressive in my opinion. The list looks quite diverse, with entries from all over the world. One of the interesting facts is that 3 out of the Top 10 wines are from Portugal. The least expensive wine on the list is priced at $10 (Bodegas Montecillo Rioja), and the most expensive one is Ornellaia at $240. You can analyze the list in many more ways – here is the link for you. Note that you can also go through the past 25 years of the Top 100 lists using the same link.

Recently I came across a blog post which provides excellent tips for the beginner bloggers about the content, dealing with social media, promoting the blog and all other related issues. I’m sure many of my readers already know most of this, but it never hurts to go through a refresher course – there is a good chance of finding something new. And for the people who are contemplating to start their own blog, having that good of an advice might be a tipping point. Here is the link to the post. I will also make it available on my Resources page.

Do you want to know in advance when the wine holidays are taking place? Me too – and this is why I’m glad I found this calendar, which lists most of the wine holidays in a very easy to understand format – here is the link so you can see it for yourself.

Last for today is a note of the new service called CorkSharing. If you plan to visit a winery, you can use the service to book your tasting in advance – when you arrive at the winery, you can just proceed to the tasting without waiting for it in line. The list right now includes 11 countries and 166 participating locations. I think this is an interesting service, especially if you plan your winery visit in advance.

And we are done! The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way. Cheers!

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