For this month’s adventure in the themed blogging topic known as Wine Blogging Wednesday, our hostess @sonadora from Wannabe Wino, is hosting us for the 5th Anniversary. This time, Megan goes back to her love of Zinfandel, and encourages us to taste our favorite zins paired with some yummy BBQ.
As luck would have it, this post coincided with the annual ZAP Summer Celebration, which is famous for it’s BBQ and plethora of zins. To start out, we took a little tour of some of the ZAP producer vineyards, starting out with Pete Seghesio at Saini Vineyards. Saini was planted in 1946, and is now run by the 4th generation of Sainis. Prior to being farmed for grapes, it was planted with apples, pears, and prunes, as was much of the Dry Creek Valley where this vineyard is located.
Saini zin undergoing veraison
You may not have known this, but dry farmed zin can be one of the most difficult grapes to grow because it can rot from the inside out; the cool fog that drifts in to the valley over the western mountains cools down the fruit and can make it damp, and prone to botrytis. Now, if you’re in to Sauternes, this is a good thing. In red wine, not so much! Dry farming also can have a 1pt increase in the over all brix (measurement of sugar) a day, in the summer heat.
From Saini Vineyard, we went over to Lytton Springs, where Ridge has 175 acres planted next to their straw bale winery. One of the most interesting things we saw was a newly planted field on the drive in, which is a purpose ffield blending of Zinfandel, Charbono, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Mataro, Cinsualt, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Palomino and pretty much everything else in the kitchen sink. This is an old school Italian field blend, and should be some interesting stuff. Ridge will be harvesting this vineyard block by block, and while this will allow them to harvest depending on each varietals individual ripening, it will undoubtedly have some cross over.
The Lytton Springs Vineyard is planted on old river rock, and you can really see the red soil coming through. This vineyard is on a small bench, that seperates the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, and is between 80-100 feet in elevation. The red river rock holds those 100 year old Zin vines in the cool morning fog, with hot summer afternoons. This will give it a district flavor profile from the Saini Vieyard, which is on the more fertile flood plain of the Russian River.
Ridge purchased fruit here since 1972, and bought he property in the early 1990s, making it part of their estate portfolio. There has been zin planted here since the very early 1900s, when the old Captain Litton (spelling changed later) owned the land and had a large variety of grapes growing here. That history of complementary varitals is show in that new field blend I mentioned above.
But enough about the grapes, what about the wine! After the vineyard tours, we headed back to Seghesio in Healdsburg where we were treated to a smorgasbord of ZAP Producer zinfandels, including the delicious Rock Wall Sonoma County zin.
If you don’t know, the Rock Wall Wine Company is Kent Rosenblum of Rosenblum Cellars fame. Rosenblum is now owned by Diageo, but Kent and his daughter Shauna started the next chapter up down the street and are producing some mighty tasting stuff.
The Sonoma County zin is a punchy one, at 15.6% ABV, but I found it well balanced and subtle, even in the 80 degree heat. There were only 475 cases produced, so at $25 you better get out and buy some before it’s all gone. I tasted the classic blackberry, but also some dark raspberry and bittersweet chocolate. I was lucky enough to meet Shauna, as she was behind the table pouring, so I thank you and look forward to seeing you in September for the ZAP Volunteer Thank You party!
Rock Wall Wine Company tastes their wines by appointment only (hey, it’s a licensing thing kids!) and is located at 2301 Monarch Street, Suite 300, in Alameda. For you locals, that’s part of the old Naval Air Station, and is spitting distance from Rosenblum. It is part of the booming urban vintners trend, and is a member of the East Bay Vintners Alliance. I love the fact that I can taste at almost 20 wineries less than 20 minutes from my house! Keep an eye out here for urban winery events soon.
I also had the chance to taste Duane Dappen’s zins, from D-Cubed Cellars, in Napa. Duane is the new ZAP Board President, and I have been talking to him on Twitter, so it was fun to meet him in person. Duane has been working in Napa Valley since the early 80s, and has worked with some of the biggest names in zin, like Grgich Hills, Storybook Mountain, and Rombauer. Happily, he now has his own label, and was pouring both the Napa Valley and the St. Helena versions at our BBQ.
I loved the 2006 St. Helena Zinfandel, which is now in its second vintage. It is made from the Korte Ranch Vineyard, which was planted back in 1910. Talk about some old vines! OK, so they’re not 100+ years old, but they are old at the same. This fruit creates a wonderfully bold and balanced zin, with raspberries, blackberries, notes of vanilla, and some herbal notes. It’s also relatively low ABV for a zin, at 14.5%.
You can taste D-Cubed wines, along with a dozen others, at the Vintners Collective in Napa. They are located at 1245 Main Street, and area a great destination in town!
With both of these wonderful zins, as well as a smattering of tastes of others, the BBQ boys were there serving up pulled pork sliders, ribs, and sausages. This is classic zin food, where the richness of the BBQ sauce and its tang goes with the bold dark berry flavors of the fruit in the zin.
I have always enjoyed this event, because we not only get to stuff our faces with pork product, but we get to taste a lot of different zins in one place that is more restrained than the Grand Tasting in January. On a final note, for dessert, I took my raspberry sno-cone, and poured some leftover zin of unknown origin in to it. Let’s just say it was probably the best zin based dessert I’ve had since the Zinfandel ice cream at Rosenblum’s Open House Last year.
I hope you’ll go out and taste some zin for yourself, and be sure to try some tasty BBQ treats with it!
PS please stay tuned to Palate Press for some more news regarding zin soon!