Zinfandels are perhaps my favorite reds – particularly the big, bold, not overly sweet Zins that combine rich complexity with plenty of fruit. I enjoy Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chianti, Bordeaux, and many other red wines, but somehow Zins are special. I was delighted to run across a wonderful chronicle of Zinfandel history at the Times & Transcript. I was surprised to learn that its American origins trace to New England before being transported to California in the 1850s. Although its origins seem to trace to Italy’s Primotivo grapes, it is considered an American varietal.
It seems the grape grew in popularity, if not distinction, for more than a century. By the 1980s, much of the production went into producing white Zinfandels, a blush wine produced by limiting contact with the skins. In the 1990s, the first glimmer of quality red Zinfandels began to emerge with wineries like Ridge, Turley and Ravenswood beginning to produce finer reds.
Now, many Zins are designated Old Vine Zinfandels, produced from vines that range from 40 to 100 years old or more.
Read the lengthy history here.