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California has always been the home of Zinfandel, a wine that raged in popularity during California's gold rush era of the 1840's-1860's. How appropriate it is that in today's world, this grape began its revival in Zinfandels of the 1970's, which were produced by Sutter Home and Montevina in the Sierra foothills!
A dark black and blue berried grape, Zinfandel is known to ripen a bit unevenly. "Zin" likes hot days and cool evenings to ripen its dark, almost-sweet fruit and preserve its bright natural acidity. Zinfandel can be made in the entire spectrum of wines -- from pink to monstrously big and dark -- and in port as well.
The finest expressions of Zinfandel are revered by today's wine connoisseurs around the world. Great Zinfandels are dark and possess tremendous amounts of ripe, berry fruit (silky or firm), soft tannins, and plenty of alcohol.
When Zinfandel is made at the top level, there is no question it is one of the world's greatest tasting wines. Some Zinfandels can actually age very well, but most are made in a lush, "drink me now" style. Delicious with so many foods -- roasted or grilled game, meats, sausage, pasta and cheeses -- Zin can handle almost anything. A great Zinfandel can spice up a summer party or warm the soul on a cold winter's night.
The great Zinfandels of California can be found in Sonoma, Napa, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Amador County and in the area of Lodi. Many of my favorite wine tasting memories are of great Zinfandels. Those wines hooked me into the business of wine well over 30 years ago.