Vineyard & Winery Management

January - February 2012

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MANAGEMENT MARKET WATCH C o n t i n u e d vested in late November, produce a high-alcohol wine with all vari- etal character overwhelmed by the aroma and taste of imitation port. Consumer interest in zinfandel as a dessert wine is nonchalant at best, and there is a delicate balance between a high-alcohol table wine and a late-harvest freak." This sen- timent is as alive today as it was in 1975. Brennan provided some inter- esting tasting notes. I knew him as an incredibly meticulous note taker and a guy with a classically trained palate. He was old school, but ready to adopt the "Brave New World." In his book, his highest-rat- ed wines included many offerings from Ridge Vineyards and David Bruce Winery. He gave the 15.8% Ridge Jimsomare Zinfandel (grapes from the Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains) 20 out of 20 points. His tasting note: "Concen- trated, fully ripe grapes stampede into your nostrils; intense fruit that oozes over your palate…." It reads a lot like Robert Parker descriptors that the Wine Advocate publisher has used for California superstar wines since the 1990s. What had happened to Brennan, who could recite volumes on Châ- teau Latour and its upright balance, then praise a 15%-plus California zinfandel? He was showing us the future, and zinfandel would become the messenger that California and the New World would not abide by the old rules. INTENSITY WITHOUT WEIGHT Back then, Ridge and David bw.7x5.pdf 11/25/08 2:25:22 PM Bruce zins were made by highly educated professionals who under- stood what great wine was about. Their wines had great flavor and were balanced in the context of the times. Today, the vineyards and technology have caught up to the needs of super-premium zin- fandels; while the wines may have been good at 12.5% alcohol in1960, as expressed from the available viti- culture of that time, they seem to be just as good at various levels of alcohol. Dr. J. Bernard Seps, proprietor of Storybook Mountain Vineyards in Napa Valley, said, "I have been producing zinfandel since the late 1970s, having started out work- ing for the late Joe Swan. There was one major admonition from Joe about zinfandel – respect the grapes, their character and their provenance. That has been at the core of my zinfandels ever since. But having said this, there is none- theless a certain shaping of the wine within these parameters, a shaping according to the taste of the house, the winemaker. Frank- ly, we set out to make great wine when we bought Storybook in 1976. It happened to be zinfandel C M Y CM MY CY CMY K 28 VINEYARD & WINERY MANAGEMENT JAN - FEB 2012 WWW.VWM-ONLINE.COM

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