I have been anti-zinfandel for the past few years. For me, they were the epitome of everything I hated about new world wines: boozy, hot, over-extracted, port-like, no acidity. Needless to say, I had strong feelings about zins.
Reflecting upon my tender youth, I recalled some of the first wines that I really dug, when I was like 17/18. (I was living in a country where it was permitted to drink in your teens, as long as they were bizarre varietals.) So with my Gewürztraminer and Vouvray, I was enjoying zin. Ravenswood Zin. Zinfandel was a sexy wine, gutsy, with awesome fruit and a zesty, funky finish.
But now I like elegant, balanced wines. And I put Zinfandel in the trash heap. Stick a fork in it. But recently I broke down and tasted a zinfandel (with extreme prejudice). Not only was it a zin, but one with the cheeziest packaging in the history of the world. How many zinfandels have you seen with horrific puns on “zin”: symphony/sin/artesin..blah blah blah.
So I tasted an old vine Lodi zin. 65+ year old vines. 14.2% alcohol, which in the world of zin is pretty restrained. (The only zin I can think of under 14% is the Foppiano, which is my all-time favorite zin.) Smelling it, wow, lots of fruit, delicious just to smell! And an earthy, interesting finish. Holy shit. Am I enjoying this wine? WITH THIS LABEL?!? Yes, I am.
I do not know who I am anymore. The last time I had this thought was when I tasted the 2004 Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and actually thought it was decent. (This is the most horrifying thing I have ever written about. Hey, it’s estate fruit! Seriously, it wasn’t bad for an oaky Chard. Seriously. But I’ll drink a Muscadet from the Loire instead. I’m just saying, if it’s free and your expectations are that it’s going to be garbage, if it’s not bad, that’s pretty good.)