What wine do I recommend for holiday meals? All hail the mighty California ZINFANDEL! That’s right, zinfandel is my go to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Easter Wine because it works with turkey, ham, and prime rib as well as all those rich crazy side dishes.
“No better story is told than by a Zinfandel at the table,” says David Lucas of Lucas Vineyards in Lodi.
I’ve long loved zinfandel, and I even worked for the King of Zin– Ridge Vineyards. I brought Ridge zin to family turkey dinners back in the 80s. I got my start in wine at Ridge Vineyards on Montebello Road in the mid-80s pouring at the outdoor tasting room picnic table and gazing at the graceful arabesques of head trained vines.
But it wasn’t until recently that I personally experienced picking zinfandel grapes and processing them: summer 2020 found me picking forty year old Zinfandel from a UC Davis experimental plot in upper Ojai, California where the bees and the yellow jackets competed with us for the fruit. The Block F Vineyard came from cuttings from the Hall Vineyard, planted in the 1970s. It was a last minute call, asking if Bruce Freeman of Clos des Amis wanted to pick the fruit and make wine from it.
Most of the vineyard was trellised, the grapes unevenly ripe with raisins and green grapes in the same cluster. Bruce chose to do a carbonic maceration with partial whole clusters. I tasted it along the way, and recently, I joined the crew to bottle it, enjoying it while we did so. Truly one of my most favorite zins ever– it’s got quite a zing to it!
Hopefully these vines, and the other old vines of the world, are destined to stay put so those of us who appreciate these elders will have the opportunity to taste the wines made from them.
Happy Zinfandel! I’ll offer tasting notes and more pairings along with how and when you can find this wine once it’s released and if it’s available to anyone except the wine club!
For more old vine zin, check out “Meet Magdalena: My Entry to Jancis Robinson’s 2021 Contest.”
Also of note, these 2020 Zinfandel focused articles:
- Miraflores Zinfandel and Primitivo, El Dorado County
- Di Aries Zinfandel and Primitivo, El Dorado County
- Comparing Paso Robles Turley with Puglia’s Primitivo
- Birds and the Bees in the Zinfandel Trees, Ventura County
Previous Zinfandel Day coverage:
- 2020 Zinfandel Day: A Zinfandel for Every One and Every Occasion
- 2019 Zinfandel Day: 5 California Zinfandel with Eggplant Parmesan
- 2018 Zinfandel Day: Cantara Cellars Vertical plus a Cline Old Vine (Lodi)
- 2017 Zinfandel Day: Lodi Old Vines
Why To Try Old or Ancient Zin from Lodi or Mendo
- 2016 Zinfandel Day: 7 Lodi Zins
- 2015 Zinfandel Day: It’s All About That Baste (More Zinfandel!)
- 2013 Zinfandel Day: Celebrating with Cantara Cellars
- 2010 Zinfandel Day Part 1 Zin-tastic!
Part 2: With AUS Glaymond and Paso’s Bianchi