Russ Winton: Wine List

Wine Line: A zin-full day all around

Russ Winton

Imagine more than 275 wineries pouring more than 550 samples of just one grape variety in a single day.

On Jan. 31 in San Francisco, this is what actually happened at the 18th annual Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) Festival. According to ZAP officials this is the largest single varietal (wine) event in the world with more than 10,000 people in attendance.

According to ZAP's executive director Rebecca Robinson, "There is no other place in the world a wine lover can go to experience so much about the world of zinfandel and every year we see increasing interest in America's heritage grape." If you are a zin fan, this is it, the "Super Bowl" of zinfandel tastings. When you enter the tasting, you pick up a ZAP wineglass, a crusty baguette and a program listing the wineries and the zins they are pouring. At this point it's a good idea to come up with a game plan. You will quickly appreciate why you were given that loaf of bread.

One strategy would be to focus on a specific zinfandel region such as Lodi or to compare two regions, such as Napa and Sonoma. You might also choose to taste zinfandels within a certain price range or taste zins out of your price range (why not?).

Have fun and make sure you take advantage of the cheese, fruit, chocolate, water and coffee stations available. When your teeth are just starting to turn purple, it is a good idea to take a break and appreciate the fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the sailboats on the bay.

Currently, ZAP has 300 winery memberships and approximately 6,000 advocate members. If you are interested in joining ZAP, you can visit www.zinfandel.org for more information.

Lodi Wine Weekend

The wines of the Lodi region (another zin-full weekend!), will be poured by more than 40 wineries participating in The Wine and Chocolate Weekend, Feb. 14-15. For more information go to www.lodiwineandchocolate.com.

17th annual Zinfandel Festival

More than 100 wineries will host an array of special events throughout Paso Robles Wine Country during the Zinfandel Festival weekend of March 20-22.

Winemaker dinners, food pairings, seminars, open houses and special tastings are all part of the zin-full weekend. For more information and tickets go to www.pasowine.com.

What's On Our TableThree Sierra foothill Zinfandels stood out at the recent ZAP tasting in San Francisco. All three are a bit over our $15 benchmark but should be available in most stores for less than their suggested price. The three are C.G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery 2007 Sierra Foothills, Folie a Deux Winery 2006 Amador County and Lang Wines 2006 Oakmont Vineyards Amador County. All three represent good value and are worth tracking down. My favorite zin of the day was a Novy Family Wines 2006 Papera Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley, $33. With limited production, it is available only at the winery, www.NovyFamilyWines.com. Cheers!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? You can reach me at rgwinton@yahoo.com

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