Eat & Drink

Modesto wine columnist Russ Winton confesses he’s a Zinfandel advocate

I like Zinfandel wine. No, I love California Zinfandel. I love Zins from Lodi, from Paso Robles, from Sonoma, from Napa and from the Sierra Foothills. Each wine expresses the essence of where it is grown. I love that. Most of the oldest vineyards in California are Zinfandel, dating as far back as the mid-1800s. Many producers are making specific single vineyard designated Zinfandels to preserve these historic sites. I love that too.

The two most common styles of Zin are the lighter style, with lower alcohol (13.5%) and have raspberry, rose petal, spices, sage and black pepper flavors. The rich, full bodied style has higher alcohol and blackberry, cinnamon, caramel, chocolate and smokey tobacco flavors. I love both. Both are food friendly and I’m thinking burgers, pizza, steak, barbecue ribs or my favorite, lamb. And finally, what I love best is the price. In my opinion, Zinfandel is the best red wine bargain in the marketplace and I love good deals.

If you share my passion for Zinfandel, you might want to consider joining ZAP which stands for Zinfandel Advocates and Producers. The Navigator and I have been members since 1994. ZAP hosts the Annual Zinfandel Experience (Zin EX), which is the largest single varietal tasting of its kind. To learn more about Zin EX 2020 or ZAP, go to

Ficklin Vineyard Port Headed for London

America’s oldest Port winery, Ficklin Vineyards, recently received a request from the U.S. Embassy in London for its award-winning Port to serve at future Embassy dinners. Winemaker and President, Peter Ficklin, was happy to hear his Ports are drawing interest from across the pond. The regulatory paper work has begun to ship the Old Vine Tinta Port and the Aged 10 Year Old Tawny Port. This process involves the USDA, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the California Wine Institute and the Culinary Diplomacy Project. The tasting room, established in 1946, is on Avenue 7 and Road 30 in rural Madera County. Cheers to Ficklin Port!

What’s on Our Table this week is the Jason-Stephens 2018 Pixelated Sangiovese Rose from the Santa Clara AVA. This bone-dry, 100% Sangiovese has aromas of passion fruit, lime and guava, with flavors of honeysuckle and white peach. Only 400 cases were produced so availability is limited. You can purchase online or better yet, cruise over Pacheco Pass to the Stomping Grounds in Gilroy. You can also taste the award-winning Rhone varietals from Alara Cellars. The Stomping Ground is open daily 11 a.m. to 6 pm and located at 6500 Brem Lane, Gilroy CA. Cheers!

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This story was originally published October 22, 2019 4:28 PM.

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