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Californian Zinfandel – the Russian doll of covers…

This week’s Wine Club offering is a like a Russian Doll of covers – a cover of a cover of a cover of a cover of cover! Yes, I did mean to write that and no, it wasn’t an accidental spasm whilst holding Ctrl+V!

This week’s offering – the Paris Valley Road Paso Zinfdandel (2017) from Paso Robles – made it into the ‘Musical Covers’ themed case as a close copy of the excellent and well received Gnarly Head OVZ (Old Vine Zinfandel) from Delicato, which made it into a previous case after the really high scoring Brazin Lodi OVZ, also by Delicato, was a big hit in our first case. A theme is emerging - Zinfandel is a good thing!

The final ‘…of a cover of a cover’ comes from the history of Zinfandel as a grape. The Americans long considered it a native variety until 1972 when, after a years of discussion and testing, it was declared identical to the Italian Primitivo grape. Following this, decades of research and testing to compare Zinfandel with some native Croatian grapes ensued. Years more research and DNA testing of vines from vineyards across the globe ensued until a single 90-year-old grape vine from the garden of an elderly lady in Split, Croatia, gave the evidence to show that Zinfandel and Primitivo actually come from a Croatian grape that has been known as Tribidrag  since at least the 15th century! So it seems that with all of its covers and remakes, Tribidrag is basically the ‘Yesterday’ or ‘A Christmas Carol’ of the wine world.

This particular Zinfandel from Craig and Nancy Stoller is extremely generous and rich - a wine equivalent of a wealthy and benevolent old philanthropist. It is full-bodied, vibrant, jazzy and also sophisticated. So basically a Bill Gates and Lizzo hybrid. But in a really good way. Think turbo charged blackberries, damsons and plums that will grab you by yours. It’s a powerful and in your face at 15% so is almost thinking of stepping up a weight division and becoming a fortified wine! However, despite its heft there is a burst of acidity which gives a refreshing strand to it and so you won’t notice the high alcohol content until you’ve emptied the bottle in 45mins, go ‘All In’ with Queen/Seven off-suit and end up running down the street a la Will Ferrell in 'Old School'!

In the UK Zinfandel is easily sourced but it is a shame that there is not a hugely wide range, especially from smaller producers, which is where my American sources say the real top quality, life affirming stuff comes from. This means that many Zins readily available in the UK are quite similar. However, this isn’t really a problem for me. It’s like a Messi hat-trick in 2012 – you know it’s coming but it doesn’t stop it being awesome! Zinfandel’s past (and future?) success in our cases is due to knowing what we’re getting from a robust, mouth-filling, fruity and always satisfying American red. What could possibly go wrong?!

Below are some links to a few UK sources of Zinfandel...


The Wine Society


Virgin Wines


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