This wine is so joyous, and to me, distinctly Californian. I never knew how much I loved Zinfandel until I started working as Chris Brockway’s (Broc Cellars) Assistant Winemaker. When picked before the grape berries begin to shrivel, you get amazing hibiscus, rhubarb, pomegranate, and baking spices from Zin. Like an avocado, the window is small between unripe and overripe for Zin, and I watch our Zinfandel vineyards closely. Carignan, Zin’s less celebrated companion, provides a savory component reminiscent of driving through California chaparral, and, like Ricetti’s, can be incredibly complex with 70 years of vine age. I’m not re-inventing the wheel with this classic old vine Zin/Carignan blend, just lightening things up a bit.
Both the Carignan and Zinfandel are treated with a light touch to highlight the playful, chillable qualities this blend is known for. During the first two days or so of fermentation we perform longer pumpovers to homogenize the tank temperature and increase the availability of oxygen for the native yeast cells to multiply. Once fermentation kicks off we switch to short pumpovers (just a few minutes) as a way to limit tannin extraction. Pressed prior to dryness when tannins are just starting to build.
This wine tastes like a lively hibiscus agua fresca with notes of orange peel and juicy pomegranate. A kitchen chameleon and a balanced blend, Carignan brings savory flavors while juicy Zinfandel brings sweet spices like clove and cinnamon.
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