Lodi, which historically has been home to the jug wine end of the wine business, is scorching hot all summer long. It ain't the desert, but close you eyes and it could be mistaken for Lungcancer, Ca. Recently my friend and actual wine connoisseur, The Kos Man, wondered aloud if it was possible to produce decent red wine from grapes grown in such blistering heat. The answer is: sometimes.
The Maggio Family Zin is big and, in low light, appears to be almost black in the glass. The wine features the aroma of black fruit. It is very dry, smokey, smooth, and lingers on the palate. Best of all, it is not over-oaked. Way too many purveyors of modern zinfandel dump oak chips into the tank to paper over a lesser quality wine. Wine should not taste like McCormicks vanilla extract, which is how vast quantities of oak affect the flavor of wine. Leave that for the ice cream, guys. Please.
There isn't any particular hard and fast rule as to what an old or ancient vine Zinfandel really is, but typically these vines are fifty-plus years old. Zinfandel is a historic grape in California and is thought to have originated in Croatia, where it is referred to as Little Blue. The primary difference between old Zinfandel vines and young Zinfandel wines is the quantity of fruit produced. Old vines tend to produce fewer, smaller berries that provide intense flavor. Young vines produce fruit that is more suitable for White Zinfandel, which was marketed to to Baby Boomers who were weaned on Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill. White Zinfandel, which is actually sweetish, pink wine, is the wine that made Beringer a powerhouse in the business.
The Maggio Family Zin is a dang good wine at a very good price. You should be able to find it in the $8.00-$10.00 range. I like it a little better than Bogle's Zin and the Maggio blows the doors off of the ever-popular Seven Deadly Zins, whose popularity is proof that kitsch marketing sometimes works.
Pair the wine with smoked meats and cheeses or a nicely grilled steak.
Image courtesy of Lumpy