I am not a Zinfandel guy. I prefer long, lean flavors with a complimentary acidity and usually a European zipcode. It's who I am. Typical Zinfandel jamminess is just the opposite of what I like.
Last night at the store we had a great tasting led by the inimitable Henry Leung of Hemispheres Global Wines. Five of the six wines on the table were California in origin and the five of the six that I tasted were all very good. The one that I didn't taste last night was the Zinfandel. What's the point, right?
Three of last night's wines sold noticeably better than the other three. The Jocelyn Lonen Napa Cabernet sold particularly well as did the Cattin Alsatian Pinot Blanc, but also the Zinfandel did equally well and I regretted I hadn't tasted it.
I stayed here late last night muttering under my breath as I cleaned up the mess from the party before weathering the monsoon on my ride home. This morning upon entering the store I sighed at the open bottle of Zinfandel left in a location where it never should have been. So I capped it, pumped it, and set it aside with unrealistic hopes that it might still be okay. Expecting the worst, I tasted it in the middle of the afternoon. M-m-m, that's good Zin.
I have never had a problem with the basic Zinfandel flavor, which unfortunately is all you get with a lot of them. It's always nice though when that flavor opens up like an accordian and its intrinsic complexity becomes the order of the day and that's what I got with this one. One review I read said, "raspberry, blackberry, and plum, with baking spices, and vanilla on the finish". That sounds good but I would add black pepper, I would think.
A final tasting comment on the wine: the 15.5% alcohol did not make the wine "hot" like it sometimes does but unfortunately I did get a little of that overly ripe, stewed fruit taste which I don't appreciate. Oh well.
Gilsson Vineyard, by the way, is in the Russian River Valley AVA. This appellation is known for it's size (20% of Sonoma County) and the quality of it's mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production. Gilsson Vineyard, however, is Zinfandel and V. Sattui is it's main customer. The vines are forty years old and resting in a mostly sandy soil. The appellation is defined by its foggy forenoons caused by ocean breezes which serve to moderate the temperatures.
Personal Note: I spent a wonderful day in the Russian River Valley countryside with my father back in 1977. I get wistful sometimes. It's Father's Day. (Thanks, Dad)
Genetic testing in the 1990s has confirmed that California Zinfandel is actually Italian Primitivo. Italian Primitivo, however, has now been shown to actually be Croatian Tribidrag, or something like that. Life is great.
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