Zinfandel began as a famous Italian grapevine, known as Primitivo, but is now recognised as an important American variety.
An unusual grape cultivated in California since 1859, the ubiquity and the popularity it enjoys there today dates back to the 1880s, when it became greatly valued for its capacity for high yields.
Being very versatile, it has suffered somewhat of an image problem as it is twisted and turned to make wines ranging from lightly sweet rose/blush wines all the way across to late-harvest dessert wines.Read More
America (California), Italy (Puglia), South Africa, Australia (Western Australian), Mexico and Chile.
Zinfandel is an awkward variety to cultivate, since the grapes have thin skins and are tightly clustered, leaving them vulnerable to uneven ripening and botrytis decay. Consequently, careful pruning is required and the variety needs to be picked at just the right moment: neither too soon, nor too late.
If picked before they are ripe, the grapes will be too green; if picked after full ripening has occurred, the grapes can very easily become raisin-like. Planting the vines on dry, hilly sites goes some way towards warding off the bunch rot that autumn rains can bring.
Owing to their good structure and fine balance, Zinfandel wines have the ability to age well; however, they are probably best drunk young, when their lovely juicy berry flavours can be fully appreciated (whilst these flavours remain intact for many years, they do not tend to develop a further complexity that would warrant such ageing).
Zinfandel has a garnet-red colour, verging on black, with tinges of blue. Initial aromas of red fruits are followed by scents of irises and roses. High sugar levels are responsible for the somewhat port-like character of this highly alcoholic full-bodied dry wine. The rich fruity flavours include black cherry, blackberry, bilberry boysenberry and plum with notes of spice (such spicy notes tend to be more pronounced with products from older vines). Baked characteristics may also be detected.
White Zinfandel is the term used to discribe blush or rose wines made from the Zinfandel grape. These wines are usually sweet, as fermentation is stopped before it is complete, and have light fruit chracter. Generally made in high volume.