Disclosure: I recently attended the Zap Zinfandel Experience Media and Press Day this past Wednesday where I sat in on a Zinfandel Seminar by leading wine experts in the field. Some things I’ve learned along the way.
Who knew that if you put 8 varietal of Zinfandel’s together that they could taste so different from each other. This is exactly what happened during the ZAP Zinfandel Experience Seminar this past Wednesday, January 28.
4 Panelists of Experts led the seminar: Randy Caparosa (SOMM Journal), Tim Fish (Wine Spectator), Lulu McCallister (Nopa San Francisco), and Wilfred Wong (Chief Storyteller Wine.Com).
And of course, as they each chose 2 wines for us to try, and as our palette’s tasted along with them, we may have just learned a thing or two along the way.
1) The Climate is Changing.
What does that mean, exactly? Just take a look at “Lodi Native” brands of Zinfandel. Where Lodi (6 winegrowers within the Lodi region), is trying to show what Zinfandel can truly be: Their mission: to turn the spotlight on the region’s heritage plantings – many of them dating back to the late 1800s – through sensible viticulture and minimalist winemaking practices, beginning with native yeast fermentation and use of no new oak. The focus is on Zinfandel, but on the taste of vineyards rather than varietal character or brand.
During the seminar, we got to try two of these varietals next to each other, and it tasted completely different from any other Zinfandel I had in my life prior. Looking forward to see how this will continue to change in the future.
2) Food Versatile
Charter Oak The Zinfandel Mind
Now now, if you’re ever planning a dinner party, and have no idea what wine to buy or even to bring, a good bet is a good Red Zinfandel.
It is versatile and works with a variety of foods from lighter meats of Quail, Ham, or even Barbeque to some highly flavored vegetables (think peppers, onions, squash, beets.) And it does pair nicely with a variety of spices (Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cayenne, Clove, Turmeric and more.)
3) The Vintage can REALLY impact a wine!
If you ever want to taste the difference, buy a bottle of 2012 from a local winery that makes Zinfandel, then buy a 2013 bottle. You may just be blown away by the difference, and how it truly changes just from one year. We saw this on numerous occasions during our paired tastings next to one another.
Exactly the reason that if you come across a wine you’re not a fan of one year to come back to it again during another vintage to give it another try.
4) Shows a Complete Range of Characteristics!
2009 Elyse Zinfandel coming out of Rutherford, Napa Valley
As I was going through the variety of Zinfandels at the ZAP Zinfandel Experience, I could really taste the range. Some offering bold, fruity flavors, while others brought in flavors of cloves and peppery notes to the table. And this is exactly what Zinfandel can do!
5) The Age of the Vine Does Matter!
Where the GRAPES come from, and when they’re picked make a difference in the way Zinfandel is made. A popular varietal that really showcases the boldness of Zinfandel’s is none other than The Old Vine Zin (coming from grapes 50 years or older!) Also the culprit of those bolder, fruitier flavors that Zinfandel is known for.
But yet, in regions like Lodi, when you visit, there’s plantings of a varietal of new, young zin vines being planted. The old adage rings true, “It takes at least 10 years to make good wine,” but it doesn’t mean it can’t be experimented with in the process.
It really comes down to the producer, and again, the age of the vine is just one of the many factors that goes into making wine.
I look forward to continue my pursuit of learning more about Zinfandel, and all that this varietal of Grape has to offer.