A Changing Tide for California Zinfandel

Decanter Magazine

October 13, 2016

Carson Demmond of Decanter Magazine wrote a great piece on how the styles of California Zinfandel have changed over the years. He goes on to talk about the shift of producing lower alcohol and more balanced styles of zinfandel, that ultimately allow a site’s terroir to express itself better in the finished wine. Ridge Vineyards was mentioned as a winery that has always stayed the course with regards to this style of wine making.

Please enjoy the following excerpts from this article:

“California Zinfandel lost almost an entire generation of drinkers who learned to associate it with excessive alcohol levels, glossy sweetness, and prune-like flavours.

But those who came of age before the new millennium remember a different Zin – one that represented the perfect gateway wine.

Its forward profile, effusive fruit, and peppery spice made it easy to understand and even easier to drink, and its price point made it a more accessible alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon.

That earlier style seems much more fitting for wine made from some of the country’s oldest heritage vines.

And a few dynamic producers have now taken up its case, staging a comeback for the much-maligned grape

Most winemakers trace the shift towards the ever-bigger styles of Zinfandel to the 1997 vintage.

‘There was an abundant crop, and that fruit was coming in one and two weeks late with very high levels of sugar,’ said Eric Baugher, winemaker for Ridge Vineyards’ Monte Bello estate….

Ridge is one of a handful of wineries that never erred from the restrained style, which has made it one of California’s greatest champions of terroir expression….”

Read the Full Article


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