The 2015 ZAP Experience: Is Zinfandel the new noir?
|ZAP Sommelier & Winemaker Workshop speakers: Matt Cline (Three Wine Company); Randy Caparoso (The SOMM Journal); Tegan Passalacqua (Turley Wine Cellars); Jamie Harding (Cavallo Point Lodge)|
|ZAP Media & Trade Panelists: Tim Fish (Wine Spectator); Lulu McAllister (NOPA); Wilfred Wong (wine.com); Randy Caproso (SOMM Journal)|
|ZAP Media & Trade Panel Zinfandels|
2012 Mauritson, Rockpile Ridge Rockpile Zinfandel
The question that I dangled throughout the course of both events: how close is Zinfandel coming to being simpatico with, say, the needs of sommeliers, or any wine lover expecting more from the category than simple, brutal varietal character?
Lulu McAllister, wine director at San Francisco's cutting-edge NOPA restaurant, also addressed the trade and media with Wong, seconding his emotion regarding Zinfandel’s role on the table. According to McAllister, “I have Zinfandels on my list with the structure to handle pork chops and lightness to match fish and vegetable dishes. I think it’s the fact that many of the best Zinfandels come from ancient, field crushed plantings – vineyards mixed with Carignan, Petite Sirah, Mataro, Alicante Bouschet and other grapes – that is giving us all the more reason to highlight it in the restaurant.”
|Sommelier/Winemaker Terroir Workshop: David Glancy MS (San Francisco Wine School), Jeff Cohn (Jeff Cohn Wines) and Clay Mauritson (Mauritson Family Winery) presenting Rockpile AVA Zinfandels|
Inevitably there are sobering nays mixed in with optimistic yays. Ron Washam, well known in the blogosphere as the HoseMaster of Wine, has worked with Zinfandel as a full-time sommelier for over thirty years in the L.A. area, before recently putting himself “out to pasture” in Sonoma County. With his imitable phraseology, Washam tells us, “Every six or seven years some writer has declared ‘Zinfandel is about to break out.' Zinfandel has seen so many outbreaks, it's the measles of wine varieties.”
Adds Washam, “I did walk away from ZAP thinking that there are fewer Turley impersonators than there were a few years ago, including Turley. One of the prettiest Zinfandels I tasted was the 2013 Turley Vineyard 101 – nothing resembling the brutish Turleys of yesteryears. Overall, I found a lot more Zinfandels that seemed focused on pretty varietal aromatics, and fewer that smelled like they should have that pretty Sun-Maid lady on the label. I think that will ultimately serve the varietal well.”
|Sommelier/Winemaker Workshop: Andy Pestoni (Jelly Jar Wines, Chris Sawyer (Sawyer Sommelier Consulting) and Rich McNab (McNab Ridge Winery) presenting Lake County and Mendocino AVA Zinfandels|