Tricky to grow and produced in a range of styles, it can be hard to pin down the character of great Californian Zinfandel. Stephen Brook suggests starting your search in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, and picks out his favourite wines.
Driving up to the Nalle Winery in Dry Creek Valley, I find Doug Nalle standing outside surrounded by bins of freshly picked Zinfandel. I peer into one and remark on how healthy the grapes look.
There had been a heat spike a few days earlier and Zin grapes, which had been exposed to temperatures of up to 45˚C, are susceptible to shrivelling or raisining.
‘You’re looking at the bin that has been sorted. Here’s the bin of raisined grapes – this is fruit I don’t want in my vats. And over there is the bin with the bunch rot. That’s going to be thrown out. The raisined grapes I’ll ferment separately and we’ll probably make a late-harvest wine from it. May as well.’
Brook’s pick of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels: