Tasting notes: Giant Old Vine Red Zinfandel
Cranberry and spice on the nose. Youthful, up front fruit with a robust punchy ripe blackberry juiciness. Every sip develops from soft dark fruit through to wonderful residual sweetness. A well balanced, mid to full bodied, blend of old vine Ruby Cabernet and Zinfandel, with a little squirt of Petit Verdot class. Perfect easy drinking red.
Food Pairing: Giant Old Vine Red Zinfandel
This wine will pair very well with roast belly pork and any spicy stew or chowder.
The arrival of Zinfandel in the United States may have been via the Imperial Nursery in Vienna, Austria, which probably obtained the vines during the Habsburg Monarchy’s control over the Dalmatian territories of the former Republic of Venice.
Prince and other nurserymen such as Frederick W. Macondray (future son in law of Faxon Atherton), joined the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, and took Zinfandel with them. Prince’s notebook records that the grape dried “perfectly to Raisin” and that he believed his Zinfandel was the same as the “Black Sonora” he found in California. When the vine known as “Black St. Peters” arrived in California, it was initially regarded as a distinct variety, but by the 1870s it was recognized as the same grape as Zinfandel.
Joseph W. Osborne may have made the first wine from Zinfandel in California. He planted Zinfandel from Macondray at his Oak Knoll vineyard just north of Napa, and his wine was much praised in 1857. Planting of Zinfandel boomed soon after, and by the end of the 19th century it was the most widespread variety in California.
These Zinfandel old vines are now treasured for the production of premium red wine, but many were ripped up in the 1920s, during the Prohibition years (1920–1933), but not for the obvious reason. Even during the Prohibition, home winemaking remained effectively legal, and some vineyards embraced the sale of grapes for making wine at home. While Zinfandel grapes proved popular among home winemakers living near the vineyards, it was vulnerable to rot on the long journey to East Coast markets. The thick-skinned Alicante Bouschet was less susceptible to rot, so this and similar varieties were widely planted for the home winemaking market. In 1931, 3000 cars – about 38,000 short tons (34,000 t) of Zinfandel grapes were shipped, compared to 6000 vines of Alicante Bouschet.