I hope you faintly recall what your italian primativo from a few weeks back tasted like, because this week we have the American version. Zinfandel is a warm climate grape so it is popular in California. The most common areas to find Zinfandel are Lodi (in the Sierra Foothills) east of San Francisco, Sonoma (north of San Francisco), and Paso Robles (a couple hours south of San Francisco). There is also a large amount grown in central California for jug style wine as well.
The wine I have selected is from St Francis winery in Sonoma. This particular one was shipped as part of my latest club shipment. It is the 2018 Tres Viejos Zinfandel. I was curious about the vineyard the fruit originated from, so I started looking. Tres Viejos actually refers to the 3 different vineyards (or 3 old men as the name would indicate) used in making this blend, all of which are ‘old vine’. Old vine is a term that gets thrown around a lot in wine with no actual definition. Why does it matter if the vines are old? The older the plant, the deeper the root system. This leads to more complex wines because the roots are picking up minerals from many different layers of soil and rock. The plants also produce a lower yield of grapes, resulting in less wine per acre than younger vines. If you see a wine labelled as ‘old vine’, definitely ask the age. My general rule is anything 50+ is justified in using this nomenclature. Anything less, they are utilizing the term to drive up prices. Upon reading about the wine I picked, they state all vines are over 50 years old, so it qualifies! You are most likely to see this term in association with Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, but it can be associated with others styles as well.
As I poured my wine, the glass filled with an inky, deep purple liquid that faded to ruby around the edge. It had definite legs that were also color stained. When I smelled it, it gave off clear notes of salinity, minerals, blackberries, plums, and sweet dried tobacco. Then came my favorite part, tasting! This wine has high acid and alcohol but moderate tannins. It is full bodied and quite bold but gentle. The tannins are silky but prevalent. The evident but not flamboyant notes of blackberries, black currants, vanilla, and black plum fade into a lovely salinity as the wine wanes from the palate. It was an enchanting glass of wine! In case you are wondering, this would pair excellently with most things you wouldn’t eat if you were vegetarian. It goes great with stews, bbq, chili, bold pizza (robust tomato sauces with sausages), or a cheese plate with aged gruyere and varying degrees of blue cheese!