We haven’t Zinned for a while
Of course I could have said that we haven't primitivo-ed (Italian) or crljenak kastelanski-ed (Croatian) for a while, as both are considered the DNA match for the grape that Californians call zinfandel. Today, I will not be writing about the pink version that resulted from a “stuck fermentation” back in 1975, or how it has made rather a fortune for the lucky folks involved. You see sometimes the process of fermentation will just stop, as it did in this case, while quite a bit of sugar remains in the juice and it hasn't absorbed enough tannins from the skins to turn a true red. The winery decided to bottle it as it was and the rest is history!
When Huw and Dale Morris left Bermuda a few years ago they settled in Paso Robles, now one of the fastest- growing wine areas in California. The wines they make exclusively for our Island are called Wild Hogge. The production, as you can imagine, is very small; only 168 cases of their 2010 Moongate were made. This is a blend of 75 per cent primitivo, 12.5 per cent cabernet franc and 12.5 per cent syrah. Primitivo (zinfandel) gives rich, ripe fruit, cabernet franc adds a little black pepper and the syrah just balances the overall richness.
The wine spent two years maturing in American oak and then another two in bottle before being released. The earthiness, dark berry fruit and blackberry jam would be so good with any lamb dish or rich Italian fare. $39.95. Be sure to check out the Winslow Homer watercolour label of wild hogs on our South Shore, and also the foil top with an impression of our hog penny.
As we gear up for the world to watch us, how can we not think of “the official wine for sailors”, and here I refer to Dry Creek Vineyards in Sonoma. They were a sponsor of one team in the America's Cup in San Francisco and involve themselves in many important sailing events. Their 2013 Heritage Vines zinfandel is such a beautiful blend of 76 per cent zinfandel, 21 per cent petite Sirah, two per cent primitivo and one per cent carignane. The website www.winer eviewonline.com called it a “stunner for the price”. Wine Spectator rated it 90/100 and wrote: “Loaded with lively fruit, with floral raspberry and pepper aromas leading to layered, jammy flavours of wild berry, liquorice and smoky sage that take on weight and ripe tannins.”
Like all of their wines, there is a spectacular painting of a sailing vessel on the label. $21.90.
On an autumn day back in 1976, as ravens taunted from the branches above, Joel Peterson worked doggedly to bring in four tons of zinfandel grapes before a thunderstorm hit. His first wines placed first and second at a prestigious San Francisco tasting and he became known as “The Godfather of Zin”.
We carry a few zinfandels from Ravenswood, but the one from Lodi is the most popular and possibly because this area in the northern part of California's Central Valley is known as the zinfandel capital of the world. The winemaker comments: “It is bursting with luscious red cherry and plum, with acidity so bright that it could light a room. The mouth-feel is seductively soft and perfectly plush. This wine is weighty without aggressive tannins. On the playful finish expect fantastic fruit flavours.” Wine Enthusiast magazine called it sophisticated, dry and affordable and rated it 91/100. $17.90.
Old zinfandel vineyards are not uncommon and that is because during prohibition the vines were not ripped out to make way for almonds, plums and so on. The grape was very hearty and shipped well by railroad, so off it went by the tons to large cities in the east where it was legal to make wine in your own home. It was the number one choice, and sales boomed.
This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available online at www.wineonline.bm.