Grand Tasting the Zinfandel Experience 2016

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By Annabelle Marceno Pericin

Photography by Brian Wong & Mary Huynh

Affectionately known as ZinEx, Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) celebrates its 25th year and Silver Anniversary, bringing the Zinfandel Experience 2016 to wine aficionados and red wine lovers to celebrate all things Zinfandel.

Kicking off this San Francisco based event at the Bently Reserve on February 25, ZinEx 2016 wrapped up with their three-day extravaganza celebration with panoramic views of the Bay Bridge as the backdrop from the newly constructed Pier 27 on The Embarcadero, with their Grand Tasting event on February 27.  Among the sea of booths, 150 Zinfandel producers and wineries participated in pouring perfectly aged Zinfandels, limited-release Reserve Zinfandels, and Barrel samples of upcoming releases. In total, over 500 different wines were poured during the Grand Tasting.

Where does one start this Grand Tasting experience?  Winemaker Duane Dappen from DCubed Wine Cellars was pouring a 1994 Zinfandel that held its age well. It was one of the first Zinfandel releases he produced and the year he joined ZinEx. He shares he has been part of ZAP from the very beginning. Favorites such as V. Sattui Winery, Ravenswood, and Ridge Vineyards didn’t disappoint. Notables that had me going back for more included Rombauer Vineyards; 2007 Rombauer Zinfandel, 2014 Rombauer Zinfandel (to be released in April), 2013 Fiddletown Zinfandel. The way they craft their award winning Chardonnay is applied to the same method with their Zinfandel. Tonti Family Wines; Old Vine Zinfandel, 2012 Russian River Valley. Their 2012 Russian River Valley Old Vine Zinfandel is a limited vintage. Only 350 cases were produced. Scott Harvey Winery; 2013 Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel. This Zinfandel is 94% produced from the Vineyard 1869, America’s oldest documented Zinfandel Vineyard that is located in Amador County, hence the name of the label.

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With all that Zinfandel being poured, the Grand Tasting event would be incomplete without its culinary counterpart which presented sumptuous food pairings from leading chefs and select restaurants. Il Davide Cucina Italiana in San Rafael showcased their luxurious Ravioli di Aragosta; ravioli filled with porcini and shiitake mushrooms with black truffle infused cream and truffle caviar. The Ravioli di Aragosta highlighted the smooth and rich flavors of the lighter Zinfandels and hit a home run on the Zinfandel food pairing scale.  Chef Matthew Dolan of Twenty Five Lusk in San Francisco created a duck breast with basil, seasonal strawberries drizzled with black garlic vinaigrette. A tasty and perfect marriage of Zinfandel and a gourmet bite using seasonal ingredients!

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Being able to enjoy views of the Bay Bridge overlooking the bay on a clear day with a glass of Zinfandel in hand topped off  ZinEx 2016.  ZAP celebrated a memorable 25th year in a spectacular venue and we’re certainly looking forward to celebrating America’s grape in ZinEx 2017.

About ZAP: ZAP’s mission is to advance public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history. Members include winegrowers, winemakers and wine enthusiasts. The common focus is the preservation and recognition of Zinfandel as America’s grape. For more information about ZAP, visit www.zinfandel.org

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