Wednesday, September 7, 2011

R Zins

The mornings and days after big wine tastings aren't always the best for remembering the comments and statements made and heard the night before. Sometimes, all the wine just gets in the way. At least for me.

One bon mots that has always stuck in my head though is "When thinking California Zin, you can't go wrong if the winery starts with 'R'." I don't remember who said those magic words but I do recall that it was at a touring California wine tasting.

Since we had some Ravenswood Zin just the other night, I figured we could follow it up with a bottle that's been hidden away and was unearthed during our latest re-jigging of our so called cellar.

915. 2001 Renwood Jack Rabbit Flat Zinfandel (Amador Country - California)

I don't recall a whole lot about where or when I picked up this bottle; so, I thought I'd best hit the net to find out a little bit more. It would seem that there's a fair bit to read about nowadays. Renwood was established in 1993 in the Amador County region and, over the years that followed, it became one of the largest producers - with numbers increasing from a starting 2500 cases to around the 100,000 cases mentioned on the current website.

I needed to look up Amador County as much as I did Renwood, but it's found in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains of central California and is more-or-less a couple of hours East of San Francisco. There's a vintners' association that currently has 35 members and the region has a reputation for Zinfandel.

Renwood has been in the wine news over the last couple of years; however, the reason wasn't as joyous as winning big awards and medals for their wines. Rather, the financial melt-down of a couple years back did the winery no favours and the owners needed to file for bankruptcy protection in 2009. That in itself probably isn't all that earth-shattering. The more interesting bit of news for me, however, was that the winery was purchased last month (August 2011) by an Argentine investment group that includes oil billionaire, Alejandro Pedro Bulgheroni, and winemaking veteran, Carlos Pulenta.

Boo and I visited Pulenta's winery, Bodega Vistalba, when we were in Mendoza last year. Vistalba certainly appeared to be a class organization. We quite enjoyed the setting, the restaurant and, most importantly, the wines - by both Vistalba and Tomero. Bypassing Napa and Sonoma, this is the syndicate's first expansion into North America and I'll be intrigued to see how the venture works.

As for the Jack Rabbit Flat, it's a single block wine with the fruit coming from a vineyard that was planted over 80 years ago - under the dictates of an old Act that allowed growers to ship grapes to home "juice" makers during Prohibition years. We might be guilty of having held on to the bottle for a tad longer than was advisable, but the wine didn't seem any the worse for the years. I'd hope for a big jammy sip for the price and I think the wine still delivered. A bit of the fruit might have diminished but it was still a nicely balanced glass. We don't generally open $50 bottles on a regular basis. It's rare enough on a special weekend, but pretty much unheard of on a regular, old mid-week dinner.

No special occasion tonight, I suppose that after all the pulled pork from the BBQ, I was just feeling particularly Zin-ful.

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