Friday, December 21, 2012

I have seen the face of Zinfandel

Wine by Sutter Home. Selection by Darrell Corti. Harvested in 1969. Palmed and poured by Tegan Passalacqua.
I read Eric Asimov's piece about a search for a restrained Zinfandel with especial interest today, partly because I share from my own experience a lot of the feelings towards Zin that Eric expressed in that article, and partly because last night I tried the very summation of nuanced, ageable Zinfandel that he wrote about looking for. Which was a pretty cool way for the written wine world and the drinking wine world to come together, I thought.

I certainly felt pretty lucky when Tegan Passalacqua, the winemaker for Turley Wine Cellars in California, gestured me over to try what he was pouring, and even luckier when I put my nose in the glass. A 40+ year old Zinfandel, and just perfectly in its drinking spot. Really gorgeous, both in aroma and taste. And made by Sutter Home. There is just nothing about that equation that I would have predicted. But the wine was so, so lovely. Really a highlight of an evening that was brimming over with wine highlights already. Tegan, who talks about old vineyards in the same way some people talk about beautiful antique cars, told a fascinating story about the history of this particular wine. It had been bottled especially for Darrell Corti and his Corti Brothers wineshop in Sacramento. Darrell had helped Sutter Home in the early days and they repaid the favor by making this special bottling for him. And boy, was it special. Just not at all what you might expect from a Zinfandel like we often think about today, but clearly with Zinfandel fruit right there in the glass, even after all those years in the bottle.

It was a real treat to experience. You can see the stats and specifics on the bottle label itself. The grapes were picked on the 19th of September, and the finished alcohol level was 13.5%. If these days you start to wonder if there is such a thing out there as a successful and restrained Zinfandel, trust me when I tell you that there can be. Because I've seen it.

1 comment:

Jim Rollston said...

Amen to that, brother... I have been lucky enough to enjoy the 1968 Joseph Swan Zinfandel, and when I think about that experience I have to remind myself not to bash Zin as often as I do.