Wine Talk

Snooth User: zinfandelic

First Zinfandel - do you remember?

Posted by zinfandelic, Sep 29, 2009.

What's your first memory of drinking a (red) Zinfandel - your first "Zinfandelic moment"?


Reply by WalnutCreekWineGuy, Sep 29, 2009.

Mine was a Ridge Sonoma Station, must have been a 1992 or 1994, in a restaurant in San Francisco. Blew me away with the combination of rich, concentrated fruits along with spicy texture and long, long finish. Joined Ridge's wine club as a result! Have since drifted away from Ridge but continue to explore this grape which turns out to be very versatile.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Sep 29, 2009.

The first one I can clearly remember was in 1984 or so. I found a stash of Montevina wines and the 1977 Special Selection Zin got me hooked but the real kicker was the Edmeades Dupratt 1981 that I followed it up with. That wine was and remains freaking amazing.

Reply by Eric Guido, Sep 29, 2009.

2001 Lytton Springs from Ridge. And it sold me on Zinfandel forever.

Reply by penguinoid, Sep 29, 2009.

I recently tried Zinfandel for the first time -- two wines from Kangarilla Road, McLaren Vale, Australia. One was labelled as Zinfandel, the other as Primitivo but they're more or less the same grape. Both very intense, complex, spicy wines. Apparently they are quite different from US Zinfandels, but I've not had a chance to try any from the US myself yet.

Reply by dmcker, Sep 29, 2009.

In the late '70s I was traveling a lot between Japan and the Mediterranean, with all sorts of stops inbetween. I made it back home to California once in the summer of '76 then again at the end of '79. No California wines inbetween. In '76 I had my first Zinfandel, a '73 Ridge Geyserville. I can still remember its berries and chocolate and very powerful youth.

On my return in '79 I decided to branch out a bit, so the next Zin I had (after having another bottle of that great Geyserville vintage, which had improved further in the interim) was a '74 Mayacamas Late Harvest Zin. Though there was a bit of buzz at the time about late harvest versions of the grape, I'm afraid it threw me for a bit of a loop, and I didn't become a big fan. I decided to try other Mayacamas wines, liked their Cabs, and branched out to many other Napa makers of Cabs, then Pinot Noir from Chalone down in Monterey. It took me a while to get back to Zins after other detours to France and Germany, whose wines are much easier to find throughout Asia.

I did ultimately make my way back and love the varietal, though Ridge has always had a special place in my Zin pantheon because it kept me coming back--even when I encountered plenty of others that were well over the top. I am curious about that '74 Mayacamas, though, and wouldn't mind trying it again. It might be a lot better about now, with all that additional bottle age, and I might just be a little bit more forgiving of it...

Reply by rhwine, Sep 29, 2009.

I hate to say, but my first experience was not a good one - it was a popular White Zinfandel brand (that shall remain nameless).

My first pleasant "Zinfandelic moment" was on a business trip to San Francisco in the mid-90s, and at a dinner with a CA client. Being partial to French wines, they were trying to educate us on the virtues of California wines. We first had a nice Silver Oak Alexander Valley that was a little too full throttle. Then we had a single vineyard Ravenswood Zin. I was hooked. Rich, full bodied and spicy.

On the next trip back to the States, I tried Ridge and became a total convert. I have kept on going. I am a big fan of balanced Zinfandels to this day.

Reply by TL NJ, Sep 30, 2009.

I was lucky enough to begin my journey into the world of wine via a trip out to Napa several years back. Before then, I had no appreciation for wines, in fact, rather disliked wine altogether.

I was at Peju at one of my early tours and they served a Zinfandel at one of their tasting. Like most other "first-timers", I was shocked - thinking "isnt Zinfandel that cheap headache-inducing white crap you buy next to the beef jerky at the gas station?" (And consequentially - the main reason why I disliked wine in the first place).

I got into a long conversation with the guide about zinfandel its background, and how the whole "white zinfandel phenomenon" was a California experiment in Rose long gone all know the story.

I was instantly amazed by what I tasted. That taste right there changed my perception not only about zinfandel, but wine altogether. Several years, several dozen wine region tours, and several hundred "good" wines later - I have never looked back. As much as I have learned to appreciate just about every varietal out tgere, and come to enjoy the subtle differences from one region's varietal to another - I still find myself drawn back to the zin.

To this day - zinfandel, and the zinfandel "family" including Primitivo, and the Croatian Mali Plavac (which I was lucky enough to try on a recent business trip to Croatia a few years back) remain my favorite varietal. No two zins taste the same, but all have that that amazing balance of boldness and "Christmas spice".

Many have said it here, and I have to agree - Ridge makes an outstanding Zin. But I have also come to favor Rosenblum, Seghesio, and Cline - each a bit different from the other, but all making a statement - I recommend any of these to try out. Of course - my all time favorite to this day is still Peju. If you havent had a Peju Zin - give it a shot - I hope it becomes one of those "memorable glasses" for you as it did for me.

Reply by Muchkabouche, Oct 6, 2009.

My wife and I spent the first 3 years of marriage in NYC, a lot of our time in a quaint little area around 145th Street and Broadway on the upper west side. There was a liquor store near the SE corner where we would make our regular monthly purchase of a magnum of white Zin (one of the two words on the label rhymed with "butter"). Back then in 1989-1992 we shelled out a whole $5 for that stuff. That was our wine experience for several years.

Now comes our 5th wedding anniversary, now living in the midwest, and we are being educated in wine by some new friends. We are dining with them at an English Inn, and the wife asks if we like Zinfandel. Of course we do! She describes to the waiter what she wanted, and to our dismay and shock, the bottle contained something dark and plummy looking! Zinfandel comes red? was my inititial gut reaction. The next thing I know, she and her husband take the customary taste, and immediately send the bottle back. You can DO that? Hmmmm. Another discussion transpires with the waiter, who disappears, only to appear with the restaurant owner. After describing the wine she sought, the owner left and returned with a Zinfandel from Hess. Not sure of the vintage or vineyard. Here is where our education and "zinfatuation" really started.

We had chateau-briand, and did that wine marry all of the flavors together. Not only did our eyes open, but so did our palates. We were shocked that they paid about $50 for that wine, and didn't fully understand why they would. But we were beginning to, and didn't mind that first lesson at all. After our meal, the waiter was removing the plates and glasses. Our companion's wife almost plunged her fork into his hand as he reached for her glass. "The glasses stay." Alright. I wasn't quite sure what she had in mind. Now our olafactory senses would be introduced to aromas we never experienced. For the next 45 minutes, all through dessert, all of us were seen smelling the glasses, sharing our observations. Absolute bliss.

A bliss we have kept up, and share with many. Some of our current zins of choice are Layer Cake Primitivo, Rosenblum, Chateau Montelena, Cline Ancient Vines, and Coppola. I am curious about trying the Ridge, as so many have recommended.

Reply by StevenBabb, Nov 12, 2009.

my first experience with zin was at a great restaurant (that is no more) where i had just landed my first bartender position, and i had to TASTE all of our wine by the glass! one of the many perks of that job! the zin was by seghesio, and is still one of my favorite zins......

oh, and i also enjoy rosenblum.....

Reply by kylewolf, Nov 12, 2009.

Ravenswood Zin, more than likely a 2003. I haven't had it in years, I should pick some up when I get the chance. Very hot, but good flavor for the money if I remember correctly (I say this like it has been a decade since I drank it, but more likely it has only been 2 yrs

Reply by megan3132, Nov 12, 2009.

Mine was Ravenswood as well. At Bonnell's restaurant in Fort Worth at dinner with my dad. Neither of us had tried it, and now we are forever hooked! We were both initially taken aback and surprised by the heavy punch, but delighted by the silky finish that only got smoother with each sip. It excited and intrigued me then, and each time is just as grand still! My new found favorite is Shooting Star. Try it, love it.

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