A few weekends ago with the weather (and sun) in full regalia, along with a tremendous BBQ menu of Chicken and Ribs with all the trimmings, out comes a bottle of 2006 Jessup Cellars Zinfandel. What a treat! The spicy Aroma seems to have that certain something that keeps your nose in the glass looking for more. Almost an “Old World” style fragrance that the newer crop of Zinfandel’s seem to be missing. Once tasted though a stunningly rich and ripe overall flavor and feel with Blackberry and Black Cherry and some Currant dotted with peppery notes and a bit of clove. So smooth and supple, yet commanding with tremendous balance…..(how do they do that?) Great mouth feel with a firm and wantonly lingering finish. (AKA-gotta have more!) A perfect pairing with BBQ! This wine would also be great with Italian cuisines with their higher acidity red sauces and accompaniments.
A little ZIN history…….In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Zinfandel was primarily a jug wine grape. Paul Draper, a distinguished California winemaker who has been the chief winemaker at Ridge Vineyards since 1969, recognized the potential of the wine if grown in the right spot and with more highly concentrated, lower yields. Over the course of his career he would uncover some of the most “ideal” spots for growing Zinfandel including Spring Mountain, Howell Mountain, Dry Creek Valley, Mendocino, Lodi, Paso Robles, Amador County and Geyserville. While many of these areas had long histories of Zinfandel production, most of these areas never received much recognition until Draper and Ridge began using them and touting their terroir with vineyard-designated wines.
Primitivo has been called many things, but is also known as the father of the Zinfandel grape, now so popular in California. In recent years, DNA studies at UC Davis show that the Zinfandel grape is the same as the Primitivo grape grown in southeastern Italy’s Puglia region (pictured above, the heal of the boot, in blue). The earliest knowledge of this varietal is that it originated in Greece. It is not known exactly how or when this plant was transported into Italy, but the history of this grape in Italy dates back many centuries. In the 17th century, it is known that the Benedictine monks named the varietal “Primitivo” because of its precociousness (early maturity of the grape) in this area.
Personally speaking, I am a huge FAN of the precocious varietal and the many faces and flavors it can show. With so many producers of this delectably delicious wine it can be sometimes confusing and hard to choose which one style you like. But know this, whichever one you try I will guarantee that the next one (and next one or two after that) of a different label will taste different and show different qualities. This very point is what I personally enjoy SO much about wine in general…….with the different varietals and different wine-making styles; there are just SO many different flavors that can be experienced by one, unassuming piece of fruit.
Jessup Cellars Zinfandel is one of the tastiest, smooth and most palette friendly Zin’s I have ever had…….I highly recommend trying some if you haven’t already! One sip and you WILL be a believer!