Tag Archives: Zinfandel

What we’re drinking: More Zinfandel

Mary writes:

The second comparative tasting for our wine group featured Old Vine Zinfandel. For many, old vine was a new concept.
Zinfandel is a unique grape in many ways. Its vines can live to be 125 years old. That means they have survived through all kinds of weather, prohibition and Phylloxera.
There is no legal definition in this country, but a few famous Zinfandel producers such as Ravenswood and Ridge agree that old vines are between 50 and 80 years old. After that they’re called ancient vines.
Wines that are made from old vines are more concentrated because the vine production is less vigorous than when the vine was, say a teenager.
Of the nine wines tasted, five were from the Lodi AVA. With one each from California, Dry Creek, Paso Robles and Sonoma.
The overall favorite was the Brazin 2009 Lodi OV Zinfandel, (15 percent alcohol). The bouquet was quite fragrant with intense sweet black fruits and spice, which followed through on the palate with hints of herbs and spice. At 15 perecent alcohol, it was balanced, not hot at all. Very smooth.
My favorite was the Brazin 2010 Dry Creek OV Zinfandel, (15 percent alcohol). They were so different in style! This one had such a perfumed nose. On the palate, it was dry, balanced and muted black fruits with a hint of minerality. More French in style than a big bold California Zinfandel.
Brazin Vineyards is a Zinfandel-only winery located in Lodi, California. They source from some of the most coveted Zinfandel appellations and vineyards in California such as Monte Rosso, Rockpile and Lodi. The head-trained vines are truly “old” with an average age between 30 and 80 years.
The others tried were:
  • Rosenblum 2009 Sonoma, (16.3 percent alc)
  • Gen 5 2010 Lodi, (14.9 percent alc)
  • Bogle California 2010, (14.5 percent alc)
  • Project Paso 2009 Paso Robles, (14.4 percent alc)

What we’re drinking: Zinfandel

Mary writes:
In many ways, Zinfandel is the jack of all trades type grape. It can be red or “white”, dry or dessert.
Most Zinfandels are dense with fruit and full-bodied with flavor profiles ranging from herbs, black cherry, wild berries, raspberries, currants, plums and sometimes even boysenberry.
For the most part, Zinfandel is served straight up not blended. But some of the Italians, who just love to blend, put a little Petite Sirah, Carignan or Cabernet in to add a new flavor dimension, color or structure to the wine.
For versatility with meals, it’s the go to wine because it’s so fruity. It easily pairs with salads, grilled salmon, red or white sauces and salsa-smothered tacos.
While scanning the Zin shelves for an old vine to take to a wine tasting, I happened upon the Ravenswood Old Vine 2009 Lodi. The Lodi AVA is part of the larger Central Valley wine region of California. This particular wine is a blend of Zin and 23 percent Petite Sirah.
Having no will power whatsoever, I popped the cork to taste it with the grilled skirt steak with tapenade. The aromas and flavors of currants, spice, plum, and wild berry in this wine, with balanced acidity and a long silky finish made this an unbelievable match.
Ravenswood makes a couple of dozen vineyard or county designated Zins. We encourage you to try as many as possible to understand why the many AVAs taste so distinct. It helps you understand terrior.

A versatile wine for the Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving dinner is the most problematic meal for a sommelier because no two tables are the same and no two bites are the same.

The best you can hope for is a choice that will “please most of the people most of the time,” as well-known sommelier Joshua Wesson said.
We agree. Wesson, who is a leading authority on the pairing of wine and food, recommends a sparkling Shiraz for the hearty meal.

We on the other hand are more inclined to go with the grape that put California wine into many, many homes across this great nation: Zinfandel.

When looking to find the perfect pair for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s important to choose a Zin that has a lot of fruit. That means choosing a young wine is your best bet.

Usually the more expensive wines spend time in expensive oak barrels. During this aging process, the flavor characters of the oak seep into the wine, which lessons the fruit characteristic.

For this Thanksgiving we highly recommend Maryhill Winery’s Zinfandel. We had a chance to sample this wine at the Kitsap Wine Festival in August.

This Washington wine comes from the Columbia River, an area where a wide array of varietals are grown, including wines that require a lot of heat to do well — Zinfandel, Syrah and Sangiovese.

The Maryhill Zin is deep ruby red in color with big aromas of raspberries and black cherries.  It’s a jammy fruit-forward, medium-bodied wine.

The flavors of cherries, spice, pepper and a hint of mocha will pair well with Ann Vogel’s Brined and Roasted Turkey recipe.

It’s medium body and nice balance of acidity makes it the perfect pair for the traditional Thanksgiving sides of cranberries, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes with turkey gravy.

It can be found at the grocery store for around $22.

Happy Thanksgiving!

— Brynn and Mary