While I had read on ZAP’s website what flights! was about, I truly was unaware of just how euphoric the event turned out to be. I use that term because being able to taste five different winemakers’ wine, all the while hearing about the process with which each one went through to make it, is not something you get to hear every day.
The 9th Annual Flights! was a showcase of five different winemakers ranging from Eric Baugher, winemaker at Ridge, to smaller-producers, such as Matt Cline, of Three Wine Cellars. Each winemaker showcased a slightly different style of Zinfandel ranging from 100% Zinfandel to Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Zin of 6 different varietals plus “other stuff”.
The discussion ranged from the ever-debatable alcohol percentages to dry farming and soil conditions. But at the heart of the matter was the question, “What is Zinfandel?” The nature of Zinfandel is as temperamental as any grape, even more so than the Pinot Noir, due to it’s thin-skin makeup. Jeff Cohn, of JC Cellars (formerly of Rosenblum) described Zin as being “like Beyonce”.
Stepping back from the deeper questions, it was simply great to taste a dramatically different makeup of Zins. Some were sourced from as far south as Paso Robles, while others were in the Napa Valley. Each seemed to have captured the terrior in the wine. Dry Farming, irrigation, additions of Carignane, Petite Sirah, and the list goes on and on, were continually discussed.
While I can say I know a fair bit about this mistivious grape, I came away with a greater knoweldge and a greater appreciation for the Zinfandel. Like America that grows it, the Zinfandel (both 100% and as a blend) are still taking shape. And Zap’s Flights! discussion is a perfect platform in which to evaluate, learn and discern the grape with each passing vintage. These might be reasons enough for you to check out ZAP for yourself next year!
Speakers and their respective wines that were poured:
Morgan Twain-Peterson | Bedrock Wine Company
Bedrock Wine Company 2007 Bedrock Heirloom Wine from Sonoma Valley
2007 Ravenswood Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard from Sonoma Valley
Steve Hall | Robert Biale Vineyards
2007 Aldo’s Vineyard from the Napa Valley
2007 Stagecoach from the Napa Valley
Jeff Cohn | JC Cellars
2007 The Impostor Red Blend from California
2007 Sweetwater Springs Zinfandel from the Russian River
Eric Baugher | Ridge Vineyard
2007 California Zinfandel from Paso Robles
Matt Cline | Three Wine Company
2007 Old Vines Zinfandel from California
2007 Old Vines from California
Haydn Adams is the author of the book, Wineries Beyond Napa Valley: Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, an insider’s tasting guide to the hidden gems region. He also contributes to the Beyond Napa Valley Wine Blog, writes for vinvillage.com, and can be found roaming the hills of Sonoma County (and at times, Napa Valley) looking for the next hidden gems. You can contact him at email@example.com.