How many days of Zinfandel tasting do you really need? For fans of the varietal, it was three days at the 20th Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) Festival in San Francisco the last weekend of January.
Zinfandel has stumped genealogists for many years as to its origins. In 1994 the Italian varietal Primativo was genetically matched to California Zinfandel, but it was not a 100% match. Continuing research has possibly matched it to some Croatian grape varietals but more research will need to be conducted to confirm. Zinfandel was brought to California during the Gold Rush, somewhere between 1852 and 1857, and had become the third most planted grape varietal in the state in 2009. Popular descriptors for Zinfandel’s aroma and taste include blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, as well as cloves, black pepper, and anise.
ZAP Festival covers three days of events and tastings starting with Thursday’s “Good Eats & Zin,”a food and wine pairing event(more on that in a future article), Friday’s“Flight’s – Stories from the Vineyard” and Friday evening’s dinner “Evening With The Winemakers” and concluding with Saturday’s“Grand Tasting.”
Saturday’s “Grand Tasting” had over 7,500 attendees visiting over 200 wineries and tasting more than 400 wines. I was able to visit 75 wineries and tasted about 90 wines. I prefer a more rustic style of Zinfandel, with lots of fruit, but without an overbearing amount of alcohol. Please take my stylistic preferences into account when I list the wines I rated highly, your palette will possibly enjoy wines that vary in style from mine.
Wines that are my favorites from the “Grand Tasting:”
- Carlisle Winery 2009 Martinelli Road Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $45 (15.8%)
- Dendor Patton Winery 2009 Wisdom, Mendocino – $30 (14.5%)
- The Federalist 2007 Dry Creek Valley – $25 (14.2%)
Wines I also liked at the “Grand Tasting:”
- Puccioni Vineyards 2007 Old Vine, Dry Creek Valley – $28 (15.2%)
- Scott Harvey Wines 2007 1869, Amador County – $45 (14.5%)
- Wine Guerrilla 2009 Adel’s Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley – $30 (14.7%)
- Tin Barn Vineyards 2008 Gilsson Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $27 (15.6%)
- Three Wine Company 2008 Old Vines, Conta Costa County – $18 (14.9%)
All prices are MSRP from the wineries and the numbers in parenthesis are alcohol levels from the bottle.
If you are a fan of Zinfandel or would like to learn more about Zinfandel, I highly recommend attending the various events at ZAP Festival. The 2012 event is scheduled for January 26 – 28, 2012 and more information can be found at: www.zinfandel.org