Three weeks ago, I announced a rather exciting opportunity for two lucky couples (four people total) to attend The Zinfandel Experience in January. The good news is that the entry into several events will be covered. The bad news? You would have to spend some time with me (and also provide your own transportation to San Francisco). I will be reposting the information about the contest every week (or so).
This week, I started delving into a few Zinfandels that I received from the fine people at ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) to help me prepare for ZinEx, the annual celebration of Zinfandel, often called “the American Heritage Grape.” The three-day event, held in downtown San Francisco, starts with the opening night dinner on Thursday, January 17th, and culminates with the Grand Tasting on Saturday, January 19th, where scores of Zinfandel producers will be pouring their wines and interacting with consumers.
When I started drinking wine, I was not all that enthralled with Zinfandel–I felt the wines made with the grape tended to be big and bombastic, overly fruity and really not all that interesting. That opinion quickly changed after I tried a Zinfandel from a cooler climate, where the vines struggle to get the fruit ripe, and sugar levels are held in check.
Since that time I have been seeking out similar Zinfandels as I had discovered that while Zin can be big and fruity, it can also be more nuanced, with fantastic flavors and considerable depth. This week I tried three such Zins; yes, they had fruit, but they also had balance, which is crucial to any wine but perhaps more so to Zinfandel.
2016 Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel Mendocino County: Retail $18. A bit on the dark side but still translucent, with aromas of anise, blackberry, and black pepper. The palate is much of the same with plenty of fruit up front, followed by a bit of spice and a hint of tannin. Fruity, fun, fantastic. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Dry Creek Vineyards 2016 Dry Creek Vineyard, DCV2 Estate Four Clones Vineyard: Retail $42. 96% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah. This was the first time in a long time that I have tried this wine, which exudes blackberry, plum, and just a hint of black pepper. The palate is refined and reserved with wonderful balance and depth. Brilliant. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Scott Harvey Wines Vineyard 1869 Old Vine Zinfandel Amador County: Retail $50. 81% 147 year old vines from the Harvey Vineyard known as “Vineyard 1869”, 7% Zin from the Shenandoah Valley, 6% Syrah & 6% Petite Sirah both from the Chapman Vineyard. Translucent violet in the glass with fruity aromas of blackberry and plum. The fruit continues on to the palate with dark berry fruit, a touch of heat (14.9% ABV), and considerable tannins. This could certainly use a few years, but it’s delightful now. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
Do you want to taste wines like these with me in San Francisco? The kind folk at ZAP and I have put together a rather compelling package of events at January’s ZinEx to offer to two separate readers of the Drunken Cyclist (two different winners will both receive all of the following):
- 2 Tickets to the Opening Night Dinner on Thursday, January 17, value $400. Over a dozen wine producers will be on hand at One Market Pavilion in San Francisco to greet you and pair their wines with the innovative American cuisine of award-winning chef Mark Dommen. I will be there as well. I might even wear a tie.
2 Tickets to the Flights Seminar on Friday, January 18, value $200. A sit-down experience at the Palace Hotel, focused on the different styles and flavors of Zinfandel as well as some of the personalities of its producers. I am particularly excited that the moderator is Joel Peterson of Ravenswood Winery, a champion of the variety for over 40 years. I know I will be a little star-struck.
- 2 All-Day Tickets to the Grand Tasting on Saturday, January 19, value $380. Join me at the Grand Tasting at Pier 29 where I will be visiting some of my favorite producers and get a “behind the scenes” approach to a tasting that will feature countless producers.
- To Be Determined likely on Friday night, value? Good question. I am also working on a private blind tasting for the winners conducted by yours truly. I hope to gather around a dozen top Zinfandels from different regions and representing contrasting styles for a different approach to Zinfandel appreciation.
There you have it. No, airfare and hotel are not included (I tried!), but the package is valued at over $1000 (my wife said that a blind tasting with me is “priceless” but she is a bit biased) and will be a great three days for four lucky people to experience Zinfandel in an incredible way.
Entry is fairly easy—just post a picture of a bottle of Zinfandel to social media somewhere with the hashtag #ZinStories. Be sure, and this is important, to send me an email (jeff(at)thedrunekencyclist(dot)com) or leave a comment here, letting me know where you posted. Also, please only enter if you know that you will be able to attend!
Any questions? Use the above email to give me a shout or ask away in the comments section below.