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.

 

One Amazing Winery in Italy

So I know there are thousands of wineries to visit in Italy, let alone the rest of the world. But I discovered an amazing one that you must know about.

the vineyard

 

On a recent trip to Italy in late September, I was visiting in and around Florence and Bologna in the province of Emilia-Romagna. I had wanted to explore the small towns of Modena, Reggio-Emilia and Parma, so I went researching what wineries were in that area. There are a few, however I would say only a handful stand out, and in that handful is the gem I discovered!

the owner and the view

Emilia-Romagna province is known for growing and producing a traditional yet modern wine called Lambrusco. Have you heard of it? I hope so, because its not just delicious, but unique. You see, it’s slightly frizzante (light bubbles), and meant to be chilled and paired with charcuterie, antipasto and well, it’s just perfect with pizza! I am a super fan of Lambrusco, I love that it has history, it’s complex, and it can range from a natural rosé style to a deep, rich burgundy in colour and style.

So, imagine my surprise when I learned Opera 02 Winery made 4 kinds of Lambrusco, had their own cellar for producing Balsamic Vinegar, were a small hotel and had a restaurant. I couldn’t have booked it any quicker!

aging barrels in the vinegar cellar

Located just 15-20 mins. taxi ride from the Modena train station in the countryside. This quaint yet very modern winery is a slice of heaven. The views are like being in a painting, it almost doesn’t seem real. From the restaurant and its patio and every single room you overlook the valley filled with vineyards. It offers a mini retreat with a steam room and sauna for guests, a pool, private or public tours of the Vinegar cellar and of the winery. If you care to take a country walk, just 30 minutes or so is a small village called Levizzano. But really, who would want to leave this beautiful place! The rooms are simple yet modern and extremely comfortable with linen sheets and pastel colours, which just add to the view outside the window.

pasta with zucchini and truffles

I did a tasting of vinegars and can now really appreciate why Modena is home to the true original Balsamic Vinegars, and why they are what they are. They offer 6,9,12,20 and 51 year aged vinegars, a great way to discover your favourite style. Mine was between the 9 and 12 year aged. I also tasted through the delicious, naturally made, bio-dynamic Lambrusco wines produced. Out of the 4, the Opera Pura was the highlight for me. And let me tell you, these Lambruscos were the best I have ever tasted (so far). From a traditional dark coloured to a rosé version, all naturally made, these were all pure finesse in a glass. And to be able to have them with lunch or dinner was a perfect way to enjoy them. On their restaurant wine menu they also feature their neighbours wines which represent the area – and on of their own still wines –  Fiano (an overlooked white and not often available).

the view from my room with a glass of rosé lambrusco

I left with a full and happy tummy, luggage bursting at the seams with lambrusco, and a slight glitter in my eyes from the wine I’d been drinking at lunch while taking in the view. Probably the best way to depart any beautiful place. If you get the chance and are in the area during your next trip to Italy, please visit this wonderful gem of a place – Opera 2 Winery.

Until next time, ciao! 😉

The view