Zinfandel – Deep Roots, Old Vines
Do you drink Zinfandel? I’m referring to the red wine not the white. Please don’t get me started talking about that white crap.
The “real” Zinfandel is a wonderful, medium-to-full-bodied wine. It ranges from raspberry and mocha to spicy and luscious, black fruit. This grape variety has become synonymous with California. Zinfandel is the third-leading wine produced in California.
Frequently, you’ll see Zinfandel labeled as “old vine”. Some of the oldest vines are located in Amador County and Sonoma. Lodi has vines that date back pre-1880’s. There is no legal definition on what constitutes “old”. However, vintners have come to an unofficial definition of ‘vines that are older than 50 years’.
Lodi producers are responsible for more than 40% of all California Zinfandel. But the variety, also does quite well in Sonoma, Napa Valley and Paso Robles.
Although Zinfandel thrives in California, it is not native to the region. There may be some debate about the ancestral home of the Zinfandel grape, but the name is all-American. Through DNA testing, historians have determined, with a high degree of certainty that Zinfandel immigrated here from Croatia. However, there it is referred to as Crljenak Kastelanski. If you see a wine bottle labeled as Primitivo, it’s the same variety but it hails from Italy.
Here are a few top Zinfandel producers:
• Robert Biale Vineyards – Typically makes big, red fruit wine with a burst of cherry jam. Although the wines have high-alcohol levels, the finish lacks that awful burn. $50
• Bogle Winery – Old Vine Zinfandel-This inexpensive wine will become a staple in your household. It packs a bold, raspberry fruit flavor and a balanced punch of spice. The $10 price makes it perfect for easy, summertime barbeques.
• Cline Cellars –Makes several Zinfandel wines including their Big Break Zin. With a $32 price point, it’s worthy as a special-occasion bottle or a weekend dinner with friends. Nearby San Pablo Bay cools the grapes, locking in the juice and sugars.
So when you are drinking your next glass of Zinfandel, maybe you’ll think back to the growers and pickers of yesteryear. They helped make this wine and those vines some darn good juice that just screams California.