The keen wine enthusiast will know that Zinfandel is the same as Primitivo, which is produced in the warmer region of Puglia (the “heel”) in southern Italy. However this varietal has a strong presence in California, and even the casual wine enthusiast will be aware of California’s reputation in the wine world, with countless references to large personalities and cult producers. So I was very curious to try out this Zinfandel, which has made a home in California and is offered in many expressions.
- Clarity: Clear
- Intensity: Medium
- Colour: Ruby
- Condition: Clean
- Intensity: Medium
- Development: Developing
- Sweetness: Dry
- Acidity: High
- Tannin: Medium
- Alcohol: Medium+
- Body: Medium+
- Flavor Intensity: Medium+
- Finish: Medium+
- Quality: Very Good
- Readiness/Cellaring: Can drink now, potential to cellar
- Identity: USA / Sonoma County / Zinfandel
- Price: High-priced (~$25)
- Long, thin tears
- 15.5% Alc
- Aromas of sour cherries, confectionery, dust/must, stewed dark fruits
- Flavours of confectionery, dark chocolate, clove, cherries
- Smooth, velvety tannins
- Just a touch of residual sugar
- Food match – Lamb with rosemary
Lacking experience with this varietal, I had expected this wine to be Cabernet-like, but it showed a juicier and riper character more similar to Syrah. The main defining feature is that the Zinfandel is more confectionery in its profile, and lacked the pepper Syrah typically has.
I can understand how Zinfandel has carved out a large piece of the American market – bold, juicy, dry, with just a touch of residual sugar, it’s a display of power that does not come across as confrontational. It is also available as “White Zinfandel”, a Rosé-style that seems to enjoy even more popularity than its full-bodied counterpart. A neophyte will be able to appreciate the range of this wine’s expression without being put-off.
Despite spending 4-5 years under cork this wine was still surprisingly youthful, with lots of juicy, primary fruit characters building up in the glass. I had to take a second look at the cork and confirmed it was in fact a diam cork. This is an artificial closure made from natural material that has been broken down, treated to remove cork taint, and reconstructed into the shape of a regular cork. Such closures have undergone numerous improvements and the level of oxygen permeability through the cork can actually be controlled. I suspect the winemaker chose a cork with lower permeability to retain the wine’s freshness.
I had originally selected this bottle with the intention of exploring more mature and developing characters, but this fresh and approachable wine was perfectly fine for this Easter holiday season, and with cork closures it is always better to err on the side of too young rather than too old. If this experience has taught me anything, it is to keep a closer eye on different closures in the future.