Celebrating Zinfandel — America’s Wine

The annual Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) weekend is an All-American event featuring delicious red wines from all over California.

The human headliner of the 19th annual ZAP festival — a celebration of all things zinfandel — is chef  Beverly Gannon, one of Hawaii’s most influential cooks and proprietor of the world-famous Hali`imaile General Store on Maui.

Chef Beverly Gannon

Chef Beverly Gannon

Gannon, an advocate for regional Hawaiian cuisine, was just one of many chefs whose dishes were paired with wines from about 50 different producers at the ZAP “Good Eats and Zinfandel”event held Thursday at Fort Mason.

This affair served as a warm-up for the public grand tasting on Saturday when wines from about 300 wineries will be poured. Tickets are available online for $59.

Gannon lived up to her reputation, based on the positive reaction to the dish she prepared for the Good Eats and Zinfandel crowd — Joe’s Favorite Meatloaf with Hawaiian Sweetbread Roll.

Two words — absolutely delicious!

The meatloaf matched up well with  the 2007 Old Vines zinfandel from Three Wine Company. This fruit-forward blend ($18) is made from 76 percent zinfandel,  nine percent petite sirah, eight percent alicante bouschet, five percent mataro and two percent black malvoisie.

Finding other great wines in this group was more of a challenge.

Out of nearly 80 wines that I tasted on Thursday, only a few were truly memorable. A lot of the 2006 wines were decent, but not spectacular. The 2007s, overall, were much better and the 2008s are just being released.

Stellar Wine from Selby

My favorite wine of the night was from Selby Winery in Healdsburg. Selby’s 2007 Bobcat ($34) is made from hillside vineyards in the Alexander and Dry Creek valleys. This extremely smooth zinfandel has no rough edges. It’s decadent, deep flavored, with a dartk fruit core that held everything together — simply delightful to drink.

The Selby Bobcat was a great match for a beef daube with parsley potatoes and gremolata prepared by Relish Culinary Adventures, a catering company in Healdsburg.

Another interesting wine, the 2007 Old Vine Reserve Alexander Valley fzinfandel came from Mantra Wines of Healdsburg. This was everything a zin should be with a briary mouth feel and red fruit flavors. This $30 wine paired quite nicely with a delicious braised beet and carpaccio panzanella, a type of Italian bread salad, from San Francisco caterer Graffeats.

Sublime Wines from Sonoma & Lodi

The famed Monte Rosso vineyard in Sonoma — once owned by the Martini winemaking family —  is the source of Rancho Zabaco’s premier zinfandel, available only at the winery. The 2007 Monte Rosso ($50) exhibits classic zinfandel characteristics — briary, brambly flavors along the blackberry spectrum with a fine backbone of tannins.

One of the most unexpected pairings of the evening matched the 2007 old vine Lodi zin from St. Amant Winery with a salad tossed with chocolate vinaigrette prepared by Philadelphia’s A Chef for You.

The salad featured Maytag bleu cheese, dried cranberries, and brownie croutons. The $24 zin, from Marian’s vineyard, was fresh, approachable and fruit-forward. It was ready to drink as soon as the cork was pulled. I’d also recommend the Mohr-Fry Ranch bottling, also 2007, for $18.

The weekend of ZAP activites continued Friday with an auction dinner and smaller comparative tastings before Saturday’s main event when close to 300 wineries particpated in the grand tasting at Fort Mason.


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One Response to “Celebrating Zinfandel — America’s Wine”

  1. Pouring All Zins, All the Time « Wine Country Insider Says:

    […] Wine Country Insider Just another WordPress.com weblog « Celebrating Zinfandel — America’s Wine […]

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