The World of Zinfandel

Every year, Vancouver hosts one of the biggest consumer wine festivals in North America. And I make sure to go, as this fantastic festival offers seminars, events and a tasting for consumers and wine professionals.

This year, I was able to attend the “World of Zinfandel” seminar masterclass. And what a fantastic experience.

We tasted through some amazing Zinfandel wines from Croatia, Italy and the USA. Did you know that this iconic American grown grape derived from Croatia? It’s also known as Primitivo in Italy; and is grown in many wine regions in California. Did you also know California has the highest quantity of Zinfandel vines planted than anywhere else, even Croatia?

If you are not a regular supporter of this grape, I challenge you to give it another try. You really need to try different regions and producers in order to taste the style differences. I believe I’ve just fallen for this grape, all over again!

In order, here is what we got to taste and experience:

Korta Katarina Rosé 2017 – A blend of 35% Zinfandel & 65% Plavac Mali (a cross between ancestral Zinfandel and Dobričić a local grape); soft, herbal, great acidity and so refreshing. And believe it or not it ages well (a rosé that ages, what?!).

Korta Katarina Reubens Private Reserve 2008 – Made solely of Plavic Mali – this was a mature wine, definitely an expression of the area with its chalky tannins.

Krolo Crljenak Kastelanski 2015 – Grown just 30 km from the Adriatic sea, these 15-year-old vines showed this 100% Zinfandel very well, with red and black fruits, nice balance of acidity and a fresh herbal note.

*Masseria Surani Dionysos Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2011 – From the region of Puglia in Italy, this Primitivo had intense, ripe fruits on the nose, with tertiary notes on the palate, dusty tannins, balance and vibrant acidity. The star means I liked it, lots!

Louis M Martini Monte Rossi Gnarly Vines Zinfandel 2009 – The Monte Rosso vineyard was planted originally in the late 1800’s in California – crazy to think about that isn’t it?! “This wine was sooo smooth, herbal, nicely balanced with acidity and deep red and black fruits, gorgeous” – from my seminar notes.

*Grgich Hill’s Estate Miljenko’s Old Vine Napa Valley Zinfandel 2014 – This winery also has a winery in Croatia, so they are connected to their roots. This Zin had tobacco notes, black fruits, again balanced with herbal notes. Super approachable!

Myself and Barb Wild a wine colleague

Hess Collection Artezin Mendocino County Zinfandel 2016 – This wine was made from 45-50 year old vines. A young and vibrant wine with good body, texture with red and black fruit notes, they use no oak to showcase the Mendocino, California – Zinfandel style.

Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2014 – These vines were planted in 1904 in this California region. What a pretty wine, which was blended with a touch of Petite Sirah and Carignan. It was spicy, with dark fruits and it was zippy. I love zippy.

Ridge Vineyards East Bench Zinfandel 2016 – Someone mentioned this with Pulled Pork or Ribs, and then I was hooked. Youthful, zippy (there it is again), spicy, red and black fruit profile with chalky tannins. Californ-i-a!

Lange Twins Centennial Zinfandel 2011 – The co-founder and farmer is a twin, hence the name. This is their 125th vintage from the vineyard. Typical bold style (from Lodi, California) Zinfandel – herbal, mineral, deep black fruits and gentle tannins, smooth and rich.

Klinker Brick Old Ghost Zinfandel 2015 – Not what you’re expecting, not what I was expecting! Smooth, pretty, floral, rich & lush. *102 year old vineyard. California beauty.


Until next time, keep exploring wines of the world.


A Quick Visit to Paris and Champagne

Well hello there. It’s been a while. But, I’m back. Back from having a little writers block. But the Spring temperatures and sunshine have melted that away. This article has been sitting patiently waiting for me to finish it, so enjoy!

Champagne. It’s not just that bubbly which you may think is very expensive and only for those “who can afford it”. It’s also a beautiful wine region just 40 quick minutes by train from Paris. With rolling hills lined with vineyards; churches on hill tops; and small little villages to big cities with history around every corner. I went for a 4-day visit there last October and I wanted to share with you a quick “what I learned” and what to expect.

When you think of Champagne the drink, you might just think of the top names like Moet and Veuve and Dom Perignon. But honestly, these aren’t the only historic Champagne houses, there are many you need to visit. Champagne is made up of lots of smaller producers, and they are everywhere. And because many are smaller, it’s smart to call ahead and plan out your route based on your appointments.

While visiting my friend and fellow wine writer in October, here’s what we got up to:

On Day 1, it was about getting familiar with the area. I took the train from Paris to the station just outside Reims and then we drove around and visited a wonderful restaurant and wine shop called Au 36 located in HautVillers. We did a champagne tasting while we ate local cuisine from the area. It was filled with ambiance and the service and food was fantastic. A must for your next visit.

My friends are staying in a little village called Chavot-Courcourt, so in the evening we enjoyed sipping on their neighbours Champagne Leabeau-Batiste champagnes.

On Day 2, we drove around blindly (instead of having appointments) through Verzy, Villers-Marmery and luckily stumbled upon two Champagne houses that were open in the village of Ambonnay (a Grand Cru Village). We stopped in at  Patrick Soutiran (Growers Champagne). A delightful tasting with prices per bottle around 20+ Euros.

We then passed through a few villages with nothing open at all – note: many villages close from 12/2-4pm for lunch! Our next stop was in the village of Louvois (a Grand Cru Village), Champagne Serge Gaudriller. Another wonderful small producer with some delightful Champagnes and decent prices.

On Day 3, we enjoyed a morning visit to Epernay for lunch at Bar Parisien; and did a Champagne tasting at a local wine store called Caves Champenoise.

They had an excellent selection of Champagnes and wine from the region. Afterwards we visited Avenue de Champagne, with a stop at Michel Gonet for a glass of bubbles in the garden; and Paul-Etienne Saint Germain for a lovely tasting, that was pre-booked!


On Day 4, we had an appointment at Paul Goerg in Vertus (a Grand Cru Village)

for a tasting and tour, before heading to the train station!

The most surprising thing to me, all the villages are much closer than they seem on a map!

Now onto my next stop: Paris!

I found a delightful little 3-star located near Gare du Nord –  Hotel Albert 1er Paris with breakfast included

and 24 hr. concierge. I enjoyed a picnic under the Eiffel Tower (with cheese and wine purchased at a local shop); a stroll through Montmarte to see artists and lots of little shops.

In the evening myself and my cousins enjoyed an amazing dinner at Pierre Sang , where your set course dinner (is a secret) is served without detail and only explained after you’ve eaten each course. A truly great experience and dinner. We also enjoyed a glass of wine at the O Chateau Wine Bar  – with wines from all over Europe. Not a bad weekend visit!

It was very easy to enjoy France when the trains are fast and the food and wine never disappoints.

Au revoir!