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Robin Garr

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November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Robin Garr » Fri Nov 01, 2019 8:01 am

Remember when we used to talk about Zinfandel being a mystery grape, a variety of unknown origin that was brought to California by a wacky Hungarian ex-nobleman who ended up disappearing in the jungles of Nicaragua? Yeah, that Zinfandel.

But then came DNA testing, and whoa! We've got Zinfandel/Primitivo/Tribidrag/Crljenak Kaštelanski and substantial evidence that America's grape originated in ... Croatia?

Whatever. Call it by any name, grow it in any place - even Australia - and it's still a fruity, delicious, often high-alcohol wine. At its best it can be great; at least, an amiable mass-market red.

Bring em, this month, and share your experiences.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by David M. Bueker » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:35 pm

2015 Ladd Cellars Zinfandel Avio Vineyard Sierra Foothills - USA, California, Sierra Foothills (11/4/2019)
My only bottle from a Berserker Day mixed 6 pack purchase, and I wish I had one more. This was interesting, but perhaps a little reduced. For the first 45 minutes or so I picked up a lot of rubber/tar, and it was only after 90 minutes that the wine started to really open up and show itself. When it did I liked the profile, though it was substantially lighter than any zin I have had in a long time. Red fruit, warm herbs, some of that tar from earlier (but now in balance), and eventually a meaty/savory note that I found very attractive. Expecting a bigger wine, I paired it with some aggressively flavored food, and it got a bit buried. I would love to have another bottle to sample with lighter fare. I think that might really work.
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Tim York

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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Tim York » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:23 am

My CT inventory says I have still one bottle of a 2015 Bonterra Zinfandel but I couldn't find it in the designated bin. I had this Primitivo to hand, which was less good than the Bonterra but a perfectly acceptable entry level wine though overpriced at €12 at a bijou Italian delicatessen.

2017 Luccarelli Primitivo Puglia IGT - Italy, Puglia, Puglia IGT (11/5/2019)
I've not previously much enjoyed Primitivo but this entry level offering went down easily having enough fresh acidity to liven up its medium+ body, red and dark fruit and discreet notes of toffee. I probably enjoyed this more than "prestige" offerings where the richer fruit and toffee notes might cloy. Quite good.
Posted from CellarTracker

Maybe in few months or years, I'll find that Bonterra and involuntarily discover how it ages. Even in Belgium I didn't see much Zinfandel (or any Californian wine) but have good memories of Ridge Geyserville bought in England in mature vintages whilst the oak presence was obtrusive in younger ones. I did not much care for a couple of overblown wines from Turley.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by David M. Bueker » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:30 am

Ah yes, Turley.

The old Turley wines could be great, but often went way over the top. Since Tegan Passalacqua took over the winemaking the wines show much better balance. They still sometimes have very high alcohol, but it is much more integrated.

FWIW, Tegan also makes some fascinating wines from his own Sandlands label. They are extremely hard to get, but show that he has the chops to make delicious wines at lower ripeness/alcohol. He could no doubt take Turley in that direction if he wanted to, but it's not his label, and the wines already have a devoted legion of fans.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Tim York » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:38 am

I've just done a search for Zinfandel on Lavinia's webite. They are offering Turley, Hayne Vineyard, Zinfandel, 1995 for €300/bottle :shock: (reduced from €465!!).
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by David M. Bueker » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:47 am

I would not buy that wine at any price.
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Peter May

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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Peter May » Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:33 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:FWIW, Tegan also makes some fascinating wines from his own Sandlands label.


I tasted Sandlands Carignan 2018 on Saturday. Vines planted 1890 and on own roots in sandy soil. Lovely, spicy, red-fruited wine.
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TN: Primitivo Rossovero Salento IGT 2018 (Angelo Rocca & Fig

by Peter May » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:16 am

Primitivo Rossovero Salento IGT 2018 (Angelo Rocca & Figli)

A pleasant food wine, with red cherry flavours and some complexity.

The Primitivo and Zinfandel clones of Tribidrag adapted to their different growing conditions over more than a century and developed differently. Viticulturists tell me that Primitivo has smaller berries and ripens earlier than Zin, and although some Italian producers label their wines as Zinfandel I do not find them the same.

I had this last night in Pizza Express in Aldwych before seeing Mamma Mia at the nearby Novello Theatre. It doesn’t seem to be available retail but at £24.25 in the restaurant it would likely retail around £7-8.

rossovero-primitivo.PNG
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Jenise » Wed Nov 20, 2019 7:52 pm

Last night with Korean dumplings and cabbage salad:

2012 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel
Reductive and not showing much acidity or tannins. So we added a few drops of water (maybe 1/4 tsp: trust me, this works) to each glass which both freshened and firmed up the wine. But this isn't going to be a long-lived zin.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Robin Garr » Fri Nov 22, 2019 1:06 pm

Giorgio Rivetti 2014 “Indigenous” Salento Primitivo ($17.99)

This is a dark, ruby-red wine with a thin clear edge. Its fruity, slightly perfumed aroma offers a blend of dried cherries and fresh, tart blackberries with a spicy back note. Produced in stainless steel with no hint of oak, it offers good cherry-berry fruit in a firm acidic flavor structure with soft but persistent tannin working on your lips and tongue and perceptible but not hot 14% alcohol. You can pick up a hint of the Zinfandel connection in that ripe berry fruit, but it’s much more earthy and rustic than the California style. U.S. importer: Indigenous Selections LLC, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Nov. 21, 2019)

FOOD MATCH: This rich, fruity Primitivo would be a natural with red meat, game, or darker poultry like duck or, of course, Thanksgiving Turkey. As noted above, it’s also a surprisingly good match with hot-and-spicy fare. And its deep intensity makes it one of those rare wines that pairs with dark, bittersweet chocolate.

WHEN TO DRINK: The winery forecasts four or five years to evolve, which would place this 2014 right on its peak. It’s drinking well now, with plenty of fruit and tannin remaining, so I don’t see any need to rush.

VALUE:
My $18 local price is a decent value for this fresh and fruity Euro-style take on Zinfandel.

WEB LINK
Here is importer Indigenous Selections fact sheet on its Salento Primitivo.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Wine-Searcher.com is not currently showing listings for Indigenous Selections Salento Primitivo. Use this Wine-Searcher link to find other Indigenous Selections wines, and this link on Wine-Searcher to find listings for dozens of other Primitivo wines.

I found this bottle in my local Whole Foods wine shop, so it might be worth checking a Whole Foods in your neighborhood if you have one nearby.
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2017 Seghesio Family Vineyards Zinfandel Sonoma County

by Peter May » Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:51 pm

Spending 3 weeks in the USA, almost 2 of them during November I'd hoped to have many Zins to report on. Not so. Either the restaurants we've been to only sell CabS, Pinot N, Merlot and (Argie) Malbec or they have a long wine list with a multitude of choice in CabS, Pinot N, Merlot, and a small selection of others mostly Rhone blends and Italians.

But last night - ta-ra the long wine list had 2 Zins, (unfortunately no Ridge) and I chose

2017 Seghesio Family Vineyards Zinfandel Sonoma County

Subdued, very drinkable with a underlying smokiness. Some black plum fruits and black pepper. I wouldn't guess this as Zin if tasted blind, seemed very restrained, but deliciously it drank too easily.

at Ruth's Chris Steak House, Las Vegas
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Peter May » Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:58 pm

Jenise wrote:. But this isn't going to be a long-lived zin.


I've already drunk the one I had at home (and 2 more in US restaurants in 2015) but I've got a 2011 and some 2013, 14, 15, & 16.

Was 2011 a poor year or is this generally a short lived wine?
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Jenise » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:18 pm

Seghesio is a great Zin producer. And no, Ridge Lyttton Springs isn't normally a short-lived wine, in the right vintages they age well. But 2012 was a fairly soft vintage, wines overall don't have tons of structure. Which of course made the wine incredibly appealing right off the bat; I should have drunk mine early.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Peter May » Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:06 pm

So, I was at this chain restaurant - Outback - last night and to my surprise they had some high priced wines, presumably because it is on the Strip.

I ordered Hess 'Allomi' Cab S 2017 and said to waiter I was disappointed there wasn't a Zin.

But there is he replied. I asked him to show me on the menu, thinking it may be some blend.

Here, he said pointing to a White Zin on the white wines list.

Sorry, even for WLDG I am not going that far. The CS was very enjoyable.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Jenise » Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:54 pm

LOL, Peter. I can't believe in this day and age that's still happening. (Had someone show up at one of my neighborhood tastings where the topic was zinfandel and she was amazed to find "it comes in red, too". )
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Jon Leifer » Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:53 pm

Peter: I have been drinking and enjoying the 2016 Hess Allomi CS the past few days...Given your comments on the 2017, sounds as tho this wine is made to provide early drinking pleasure..Not having had this wine before, got it as a gift, I wonder what its track record might be re cellaring and aging
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by David M. Bueker » Fri Nov 29, 2019 11:22 pm

2014 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Papera Ranch - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (11/29/2019)
While this is very drinkable, it’s not at all distinctive. Good with food, but nothing about it is compelling to me. It’s sort of one note, and never reached the heights of the better Bedrock wines.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Jenise » Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:41 pm

David, reading your note I thought that must be the Bedrock zin we'd had a few months ago (I remembered vintage and impression, but not designation). Well, no, it wasn't, but same result!

2014 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine California
Restaurant purchase (in which all the bottles are stored upright and at room temp). Sweet and direct, tasty but lacked complexity.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by David M. Bueker » Sat Nov 30, 2019 3:22 pm

It’s odd. I love what they do with other sites (Bedrock, Dolinsek, Evangelho, etc.), but some of them just leave me cold. I have at least learned which ones I like at this point.

As for the old vines, at $20 off the mailing list, I am not sure how much one can expect.
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