Archive for October, 2013

Ancient winemaking, taste of a place, and luscious Zinfandel beef stew

October 31st, 2013
Ancient winemaking, taste of a place, and luscious Zinfandel beef stew

There is a memorable story in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, told by the character of the faithful Sancho Panza, concerning the great wine connoissurs in his family; particularly, two on his father’s side who were once challenged to identify an anonymous wine from a barrel. The first one brought the wine to the tip of his tongue, and declared the flavor of iron.  The second one just needed to pass it under his nose before declaring a stronger flavor of cordovan leather.  The owner of the wine protested, however, saying his wine was perfectly clean, with no trace of iron or.. VIEW MORE »

The mystery of Zinfandel, part 2 – the long strange trip from… somewhere

October 29th, 2013
The mystery of Zinfandel, part 2 – the long strange trip from… somewhere

Did you know that the first winery to produce a rosé, or pink colored “White Zinfandel,” from the black skinned Zinfandel grape was Lodi’s El Pinal Winery – way back in 1869?  El Pinal did not survive Prohibition, and it would not be until the late ‘60s/early ’70s that wineries like David Bruce, Ridge, Monteviña and, of course, Sutter Home would revive the idea of turning Zinfandel into something other than a red table wine. According to Charles Lewis Sullivan in his book, Zinfandel:  A History of a Grape and Its Wines, El Pinal’s technique of turning free-run Zinfandel juice into a.. VIEW MORE »

The mystery of Zinfandel, part 1: a plot as thick as the wine

October 23rd, 2013
The mystery of Zinfandel, part 1:  a plot as thick as the wine

For the longest time, Zinfandel was known as California’s “mystery grape.”  It has also been long considered an “all-American” varietal; since as far as anyone knew, Zinfandel wasn’t grown anywhere else in the world.  Make that “all-California,” because virtually all of it is grown in the state of California – and most of that, in the American Viticultural Area of Lodi. Whatever the case may be, America loves Zinfandel – whether it is made into a light, fizzy, fruity pink wine (i.e. White Zinfandel), or a moderate to humongously full, thick, lip-smacking red wines.  This black skinned grape is successfully.. VIEW MORE »

The new Macchia Primitivo — the milder, smoother identical twin of Zinfandel

October 17th, 2013
The new Macchia Primitivo — the milder, smoother identical twin of Zinfandel

Macchia Wines, which produces more single-vineyard Zinfandels than any other winery in Lodi, has just released their first-ever bottling of Primitivo:  the 2012 Macchia Lodi Primitivo ($24) – a full bodied yet smooth, mildly tart edged red wine that has something of an “Italian” feel in its bright, upbeat, drink-me-with-food qualities.  But like a good Zinfandel, this Primitivo is teeming with sun kissed berryish fruit; tinged with sweet peppercorn spice, and subtle touches of cedarwood-ish oak. Macchia winemaker/owner Tim Holdener tells us, “This is our inaugural experience with Primitivo.  Ours is grown by Todd Maley, at his vineyard on Davis.. VIEW MORE »

2013 Zinfandel harvest nearing end, with a little bit of drama

October 14th, 2013
2013 Zinfandel harvest nearing end, with a little bit of drama

Lodi grows a greater variety of grapes than any other wine region in California, but Zinfandel is still the specialty – the pièce de resistance.  Tegan Passalacqua, the grower/winemaker of Turley Wine Cellars, manages his company’s Zinfandel plantings in Lodi, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Paso Robles, as well as Contra Costa and Amador County.  So it’s safe to say that he’s seen a lot, and has a very broad perspective. But even Passalacqua couldn’t quite account for why, in 2013, the Zinfandel harvest started pretty much on schedule at the end of August (early bud break this past Spring moved.. VIEW MORE »