Venial zin

Long Point Zinfandel (Reserve) 2006
Varietal: Zinfandel (not to be confused with “white zinfandel”, a wine made in a rosé-style from Zinfandel grapes, and usually drunk by moms.)

This is the biggest picture I could find of the label

This is the biggest picture I could find of the label

Alcohol by volume: 14.8%
Residual Sugar: Dry (supposedly)
Appelation: Only to be sold in NY (more on that later)
Price point: $24

Looks: Dark violet uncharacteristic of Finger Lakes reds.
Nose: Hot on the nose, kind of smells like those old blueberry-cream Life Savers lollipops in that it carries dark fruit and vanilla.
Palate: Sweet, I tend to disagree with the “dry” rating. Rather low in acidity, {flabby}. There is a bit of {tannin} that sticks around through the black licorice finish. Overall, for 24 bucks I’m not sure I would buy it again.
Rating: 2.5 corks corkcorkhalfcork

I drove to Long Point with some of my high school friends in the middle of a snowstorm around new years. Located just off of Route 34B on Cayuga lake, it’s one of two main wineries on the east side of the lake, the other being King Ferry (Treleaven wines). In the deserted tasting room, when I expressed that the reds showed a lot of color, tannin, and flavor, the winemaker informed me that the grapes for some of his reds are shipped from California. Finger lakes wine indeed! But hey, if you have had some of the reds made in a cooler climate like this, you would probably consider importing as well. It takes a lot of energy for grapes to make all those anthocyanins (color compounds) and other polyphenols (e.g., {tannins}).

Creamy blueberry in lollipops:  great!  Creamy blueberry in high-alcohol wine: not so great.

Creamy blueberry in lollipops: great! Creamy blueberry in high-alcohol wine: not so great.

Also, what does “reserve” mean? Legally, in the U.S., it means absolutely nothing. Some winemakers use it to mean that these were the best barrels of that fermentation, some use it to mean that the wine is oaked or aged in a nicer (French vs, American, a topic for another time) or newer oak barrel. Regardless, “reserve” on a wine usually guarantees one thing: it will be more expensive. This wine is no exception.

A fairly recent trend in winemaking, especially in California, is letting grapes hang on the vine for the maximum amount of time before harvesting to maximize ripeness (Ref: Coombe, “Research on development and ripening of the grape berry”, American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 1992). At first, this seems like a great idea: riper grapes mean more flavor, right?. (Incidentally, long hang times in the Finger Lakes are not advisable because of the propensity for rain in September-October, which leads to the growth of {botrytis} (rot) on the grapes.) As grapes ripen, sugar levels increase and acid levels (malic and tartatric) decrease. The result of a long hang is juice that comes in with very high sugar. Very high sugar leads to very high alcohol after fermentation, and this one weighs in around 15% alcohol by volume. Wow. An unfortunate downside to this approach (which frequently happens with Zinfandel, a notoriously high-alcohol wine) is the loss of a lot of the acids, leading to a wine lacking structure.
Alcohol levels in wine are increasing all over the world and it’s thought that climate change has a lot to do with this (Ref: Jones et al., “Climate change and global wine quality”, Climate Change, 2005). I don’t know if Al Gore mentioned this in “An Inconvenient Truth” but he probably should have!

Published in: on 9 March 2009 at 5:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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