Today is National Zinfandel Day. What does that mean? Not a whole heckuva lot–just about every wine grape variety worth its salt has its own day. Some (like champagne) are so self-righteous, they have two days (one is in October, for some reason and the other is New Year’s Eve, duh).
At some point, the fine people at ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) decided that Zinfandel “needed a day.” (By the way, the people at ZAP are indeed fine people–I did not say that snarkily or merely as a placeholder–I visited with them earlier in the year and they were delightful.) So they opted for the third Wednesday in November.
I am not sure what the thought process was to determine when Zinfandel’s big day should be, but it is oddly placed the day before perhaps the day in the wine variety calendar.
Tomorrow, the third Thursday in November, is Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the day that, I believe, started this whole every-variety-gets-a-day thing. I will have more on Beaujolais Nouveau Day tomorrow, don’t worry (at least that is the plan right now).
But today is Zinfandel Day, so just for you, my loyal reader (hi mom!), I dove into my cellar this week and pulled out a few bottles of “America’s grape” (we all know that Zinfandel did not originate in this country–like most of us who live here–but in a true American way, we have adopted it as our own and forgotten almost completely about those grapes that are native to our soils).
These three wines are from the fine people at The Federalist who adorn each (or at least most) of their wines with the visage of one of our founding fathers. I figured what better way to celebrate the day than to pull out a few of the bottles that have accumulated a bit of age and see how they were doing?
You can thank me later.
2014 The Federalist Bourbon Barrel-Aged Zinfandel Mendocino County: Retail $22. This spent six months in new American oak and then another six in used Bourbon barrels, which is a lot in the Bourbon Barrel-Aged world of winemaking. Rich and luscious–this is a big red lover’s wine. Strawberry, raspberry, vanilla, clove, spice, and just about everything nice. Smokey and musky, there is no getting around the fact that this is a big’n–great fruit, loads of layers, plenty of complexity. There is a ton going on with this wine and as long as you bring your big boy pants, you will be fine. $20? Pretty much a steal as there is a lot going on here. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2015 The Federalist Zinfandel Lodi: Retail $17.76. Lodi is known for its big, bold, and boisterous Zinfandels. Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part, Lodi Zins are full-throttle, in your face, get out of my way expressions of what many consider to be “America’s variety.” This is certainly no exception: rich red and dark berry fruit with ample vanilla, anise, and a touch of smoke, this wine announces its authority immediately. At 15%, this is certainly not shy but stops short of overbearing. Drink this in the short term with friends who like to argue, shout, and even tango. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2014 The Federalist Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley: Retail $22. I have spent a ton of time in Dry Creek. In fact, since starting this blog almost eight years ago, I have easily spent more time there than in any other wine region, which is interesting since there is no Pinot Noir to speak of and very little (any?) sparkling wine. Other than those two favorites of mine, however, Dry Creek has a lot to offer for such a small appellation. There are more than 30 different varieties grown in the region, but it is clear that Zinfandel has been and will remain “king” for the foreseeable future. Having said that, there is still considerable variation in the style of Zin that are created, from shy and reserved all the way to full-throttle fruit machines that will knock you out quickly, if not careful. While this is nowhere close to the biggest DCV Zin I have had, it is certainly not shy. Dark, and on the verge of opaque, there is plenty of dark berry fruit, mocha, and vanilla initially, which hangs around all the way through. The stated ABV is 14.5%, but this feels slightly bigger than that, though the fruit balances out the strength rather nicely. I normally eschew wines that lean toward the “big”, but this works, and works well. If you like a moderately big Zin, look no further. Excellent. 91-93 Points.