Often, after a wine has been in bottle for about 6 to 10 weeks, the aroma just seems a bit “dull” or “dumb” and the palate a bit disjointed. Rather than try to give a scientific explanation for what is happening (I can’t), I find it much more practical to suggest that we all put the bottles in a nice, cool, dark place for at least a month after their arrival at home. If you can’t stand delayed gratification, go ahead & pull a cork, understand that the wine will be singing forte rather than a delicious piano (the adverb, not the instrument) a couple of months from now. We will enjoy the wine’s crescendo in concert (pun intended).
Yet another area, nearest to the woods, gave us a very soft, lively wine with an interesting strawberry-rhubarb pie character. It was difficult to wait for this last area to ripen fully because of deer damage. They kept coming out of the woods during the night to sample the fruit and shoots, severely pruning the vines about six months too soon. This made the pros and cons of waiting for proper flavor development a passionately debated topic of family discussion. Anyway, the grapes not eaten by the deer, made it to the winery in good shape and all three areas complement each other quite well.
Often, I have found myself relating to this wine on an emotional level, as with Pinot noir. Maybe you will too. Lately, I have found that half a bottle left a day or two (yes, it does happen sometimes–especially when one’s wife is pregnant) really “opens up” and shows off. The same thing occurred with the 1992 Zin also.
Isn’t it amazing how things change with the passage of time? Not just how our own bodies and minds age, but it is interesting how certain things become more or less valuable, coming in or going out of style. Four years ago, after finding that our grapes were no longer wanted at a particular large winery, I called every Zinfandel producing winery I could think of. No interest. So, we made our own wine. That was then. Now, there have been urgent telephone calls from more wineries than I have ever visited, all wanting to buy grapes.
At our barrel tasting last August, I thought the wine would be bottled sometime in December. When December arrived, the wine was not yet perfectly ready to bottle, so I waited until it was ready in mid-February (contrary to what a growing number of winemakers seem to be practicing, one cannot substitute extra bottle ageing for a lack of barrel ageing). Until wines begin reading calendars, winemakers should read wines.
I suggest the analogy of our wine to a berry pie. The grapes are the filling. The oak is the crust, which not only physically keeps the filling from oozing allover the table and onto the floor (making the dog very happy), but it has a subtle, toasty, textural character that can be appreciated all on its own as well as lending interest and contrast to the personality of the pie filling. It’s also true that our German Shepherd appreciates berry pie and Zinfandel about equally.
I generally do not advocate immediate drinking upon receipt, but our experience with this wine’s travelling ability leads me to believe that if you were to immediately rip into the box on your front porch upon arrival, pulling the cork on the first bottle your hands meet, finally inverting the bottle directly into your mouth–bypassing the wine glass –it would not be a crime. Although it tastes great right now, I would expect this wine to continue to improve during its first year in bottle as it becomes accustomed to its new life in glass.
In last years’ mailing I described the history of my family’s Zinfandel vineyard, and the style of wine we are making from it. Last summer, we offered futures on the 1991 Zin and the response was fantastic. The wine was bottled without filtration in November, 1992. In April, the wine was released and delivered to our futures customers, restaurants, and some wine shops. We really appreciate all the telephone calls & letters telling us how much everyone likes the wine. The most common question was: “are we going to do it again?” Yes.
We sold more wine than we had anticipated on our futures offering and we greatly appreciate everyone’s support and trust in us. It is difficult for a young couple to put together enough capital to do something worthwhile without the help of others. Between our parents, employers, coworkers, and customers, we have started to pursue one of my longtime dreams. We are quite lucky to have you. Thank you.
The wine I am making comes from about 3.3 acres of my grandfather’s Zinfandel planting of the 1910’s. Some petite Sirah, Petit Bouschet, and Alicante Bouschet vines have found their way into the old Zin block as replants over the past 80 years. I think this is as significant to the wine’s individuality as vine age. The wines are head‐trained and spur‐pruned in the 8’ by 8’ spacing popular in that era.