March 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
I find Zinfandel to be one of the most misunderstood varietals out there. This could be because there are no producers in the Old World that make Zinfandel or this could be because of the infamous White Zinfandel phase that Americans went through. Other thoughts are that it may be misconstrued as a sloppy ball of jammy fruit, with high alcohols and no restraint or elegance. I would like to say as a winemaker who makes up to 14 different varietals that Zinfandel is one of the most challenging in the cellar as well as in the vineyard to grow.
It is a grape that is as significant to California as Sangiovese is to Italy, but we have struggled with an identity for how the grape should be represented. On one hand we have a blush wine that was by no means a show of terroir or varietal character and on the other hand we have an over ripened style that is more power than finesse and showcases more of the raisin/prune characters the varietal that can show when it is over ripened. I am on a mission at Kokomo Winery to show that Zinfandel can be an elegant wine that pairs beautifully with food. It can be aged in the cellar and most importantly can show a sense of place from where it is grown.
In the vineyard, Zinfandel is always a challenge because of its large size of clusters, its uneven ripening, its need to be thinned and its sensitive canopy. In the cellar, Zinfandel can be equally as difficult to show balance by keeping alcohols in check, not using too much new oak, attaining ripe, but not pruned flavors, and more over attaining the depth of character from the vineyard in which it grows. At Kokomo, we make three different vineyard designate Zinfandels as well as a Dry Creek Zinfandel that is a blend of up to five vineyards. I am proud to say that each wine is very different from its siblings and showcases individual personalities while keeping true to Zinfandel’s roots.