Sunday, August 16, 2009

Zinfandel Unbound

As if to prove that California wines can be, should be, and sometimes actually are complete, I am enjoying the 2003 Caparone Zinfandel. A mucklet of sediment splats onto my countertop when I pop the cork, and as I pour I see that the wine suggests fall, a pale rose petal color that foreshadows brown. It even smells slightly autumnal, like a redwood forest on the coast, an aroma that plays well with the smell of fresh red berries, cherry medicine, tar, wood smoke, and black pepper. As I breathe it in I think of a potlatch in a plank house, which in turns makes me think I should have paired this wine with smoked salmon rather than grilled pepper steak, although that was a nice match.

Too many zinfandels founder on the shoals of thinness on the starboard side and, more often, cloying obsequiousness on the port side (pun intended). The Caparone quietly, effortlessly, sails up the middle of the strait. It serves up nice cherry fruit, bright acidity, brown earth, good presence and depth at midpalate, and solid structure. As with the (even better) Caparone aglianico it's not complex but it is complete, nicely priced in the mid-teens, and at 13.3% abv plays well with food. Even more importantly, it's comfortable in its own skin; it is not tamed; it is unbound.

3 comments:

Brooklynguy said...

hmmm...you make it sound so tempting. but it's zinfandel - can I really go there? actually, i've never heard of this producer, and I wonder it it's available on the east coast? a lovely post. zinfandel, at 13.3%, who knew?

CabFrancoPhile said...

I tasted at Caparone a few months ago and bought 3 different wines at $14 a pop. That's a price point I usually don't think twice about when opening the bottle. But Caparones are not typical $14 wines. Caparone makes me think of the sorts of vignerons Kermit Lynch describes in Adventures on the Wine Route, but transplanted to Paso Robles. And of Italian heritage. Great post!

Wicker Parker said...

CFP, agree that it's rare to find a California wine of this quality at this price point. Nice unspoofulated character: no micro-ox, no reverse osmosis, just honest wine.

Neil, I'm not much of a zin guy either but this one works for me, though as I said, the Caparone aglianico is even better and clocks in at 13.2%. Knowing your tastes I wouldn't recommend you go way out of your way to buy a bottle, but Crush in NY has their cabernet (so sayeth Wine Searcher) so maybe someone somewhere has that aglianico.

Caparone also makes a nebbiolo but I haven't tried it.