Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Grape Of The Week: Zinfandel

Because I clearly have no concept of the alphabet, we are doing Zinfandel for the second 'Grape Of The Week' post...

Zinfandel is probably more well known now than it ever has been but thats mostly due to White Zinfandel, which is a scummy, horrible excuse for wine... Proper Zinfandel is much more respectable, or at least it is now.

Zinfandel really took prominence in America thanks to Prohibition, which sounds ridiculous at first, but although booze was outlawed, it was still legal to produce wine for use in church and to make it yourself for drinking in your own home. It just so happened that Zinfandel wasn't too hard to use for winemaking, so that became people's home or church wine of choice.

Early examples were big, shouty wines that had very bold fruit flavours and a shed load of tannin but nonetheless, it is because of this 'easy to use' quality and approachable fruitiness that Zinfandel took off. Nowadays, although it is certainly still on the fuller-bodied end of the scale, there is much more complexity in modern day Zin when it is made right.

Most Zinfandel is still to be found from the USA. That said, Zinfandel is actually another name for the Primitivo grape, so there are some excellent Italian examples too, such as the densely-coloured Surani Costarossa (currently £8.99 when you buy two at Majestic) which is silky-smooth and packs a lot of figgy, pruney flavour.

Another notable exception to this rule is Domaine de l'Arjolle in southern France, which produces the only French Zinfandel in the country, 'Z de l'Arjolle'. As you'd expect from this hot climate, it packs a punch alcohol-wise, and is a good sign of the potential this region has for the zinfandel grape. It's not currently available in the UK, but it tends to come over in tiny batches, so keep your eyes peeled.

Back to its spiritual home, America: one zinfandel that I think is a real cracker and is well worth trying is Uvaggio Lodi 2012 Zinfandel which is at a more than fair price of £9.95 from the old faithful, The Wine Society.

Lodi is one of the best places in California for Zinfandel and is home to a lot of very old vine Zin. This particular wine is typically full-bodied and has flavours of sweet dark fruit and a hint of vanilla from the american oak. This is a really well balanced wine at a hugely reasonable price-point - perfect to give you an idea of what Zinfandel has to offer.

This is an excellent wine to have with your Sunday lunch as it goes really well with roast lamb, but it's also a cracker at the Christmas table as it has the fruit and body to match turkey and all the many trimmings. So pick up a bottle and see what Zin has to offer.

What's your favourite Zinfandel? Let us know below or on our twitter or facebook page.

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