As a teenager in the mid-1970’s I made wine at home (with the blessing of my parents, of course). My uncle Mario used to tease me about the project, calling it ‘Zinfandoodle’ rather than Zinfandel. He also asked me to make some ‘Muscadoodle’ as well because it would taste better. This from a man who makes vinegar?
As I began to write this, it was mid-September, and we enjoyed (or tolerated) a very cool period which delayed the onset of harvest for us. Winemakers who cut their teeth on early, hot vintages may not call this ‘enjoyable’ or even ‘tolerable.’ I thought it was just ‘dandy.’ Look for some stellar wines from vineyard sites that did not have bloomtime failure and that have been properly managed (thinned) during the growing season. Otherwise, you may find wines harvested too early, by the numbers, or from unevenly developed grapes. My favorite Pinot Noir and Zinfandel vintages of the past 15 years in Sonoma County (1991, 1994, 1999, and 2001) have typically been the later ones, primarily due to the lack of searing heat spells just as the grapes finish ripening. Admittedly, some of this favoritism is due to the orderly fashion that we are able to harvest and ferment under. But in the end it has everything to do with balance, depth and ageing potential of the finished wines. As the new red wines go ‘dry,’ we should see the real texture and balance of the 2005 vintage. So far, I am cautiously optimistic.
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