I thought I would try a slightly different tack on this nostalgic theme, one of discovery --the one that ultimately led me to write about wine. I grew up around wine and had some tasty things in my late teens and early twenties but the one thing that got me into both collecting and tasting in a more serious fashion was Zinfandel. So I opened a known winner tonight from a top Zin house, Acorn.
My first ZAP tasting was in 1997, when the super-ripe 1995's were being poured and the light but heady 1996s were being poured from barrel. I started to understand one particular varietal in more depth, each zin-heavy region as distinct, and the wide variation in one year to the next. What an eye-opener.
And Zinfandels were affordable. At that time, you could buy a serious bottle of Zin for around $20.00 and a not-so-serious one for around $10. It was a perfect starter . I remember the wine of the event was made by Scheutz-Oles and was around $17 --an unbelievable deal. You can still find the occasional bottle of it for around $20 to $25.
It was that year that I was also introduced to Acorn, which I still feel is one of the top Zinfandels in the top region of Russian River. And, subsequently, I was struck by another wonder-of-the-world, the grower/winemaker. When I met Betsy and Bill Nachbaur, I was blown away by their combination of passion, artistry, science, and love for what they do. And I was hooked.
Though my passions have turned now more toward the Rhone, White Burgundies, and the world of Pinot, I still maintain a good supply of Zinfandel and get great pleasure from a a bottle in perfect shape.
The 2004 Acorn Heritage Vines Alegria Vineyards Russian River Valley Zinfandel is drinking absolutely perfectly now. The nose is spicy and brambly and touches of cocoa powder with huge blackberry flavors and firm tannins. It still has plenty of life in it. The old vineyard that these grapes come from has a wide variety of field blend grapes besides Zinfandel; Carignane, Trousseau, Sangiovese, Petit Bouschet, Negrette, Syrah, Muscat Noir, Cinsaut, & Grenache. Zinfandel dominates, at nearly 80% so it still has lots of Zin charm, but the old-vine field blend makes for a very complex and long-lived wine.