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Kenwood Nuns Canyon Zinfandel 1998
The supple flavors of the Nuns Canyon Zinfandel complement roasted and grilled meat dishes, hearty pastas and stews, and spicy ethnic cuisine.
Located in the heart of the Sonoma Valley, Kenwood Vineyards is dedicated to producing premium wines truly representative of Sonoma County’s world-class vineyards.
Kenwood Vineyards was established in 1970 in the former Pagani Brothers Winery, a historic cellar dating back to 1906. Thoroughly refurbished and modernized, the facility now boasts more than 125 stainless steel fermenting tanks and large oak uprights, and 20,000 small French and American oak barrels, all devoted to Kenwood Vineyards’ “small lot” style of winemaking.
In addition to the 22-acre vineyard surrounding the winery, Kenwood Vineyards sources grapes from dozens of vineyards – many farmed sustainably, using natural soil amendments and pest controls whenever possible rather than chemicals - in Sonoma County’s best appellations, including Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Mountain. Each lot from each vineyard is kept separate throughout the winemaking process, enabling the winemaker to bring it to its fullest potential. This “small lot” or “cuvee” style of winemaking also enables the winemaker to draw on an exceptionally broad “palette” to assemble wines that showcase classic character, subtle complexity and superb balance. As a result, every Kenwood Vineyards wine – whether Table Wine Series, Sonoma Series, Reserve, Jack London Vineyard or Artist Series – is consistent in quality and consistently delicious.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for nearly every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa, the region only produces about half the amount of wine, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in both quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River and Sonoma Valleys, Carneros, and Fort Ross-Seaview. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
Unapologetically powerful, heady, and fruit-forward, Zinfandel is often thought of as a truly Californian grape, though in fact it is anything but. This variety has followed an intriguing trajectory to reach its adoptive home, beginning, surprisingly, in Croatia. Originally known as Tribidrag, it first made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. From there it eventually migrated to what is now unarguably its most successful outpost, in California, and has thrived throughout the state. Of course, this is also the grape of White Zinfandel, a sweet pink wine that enjoyed great popularity in the 1980s and 90s. Though White Zin still has a significant following, today the variety is increasingly associated with the red version.
In the Glass
Zinfandel commonly features a bold, plush texture and notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, black pepper, dark chocolate, leather, and licorice, and can often be described as “jammy” and a little bit sweet. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig, or prune. Despite its significant alcohol and weight, Zinfandel has very smooth, gentle tannins.
Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs, or anything barbecued. If care is taken with regards to alcohol levels, Zinfandel’s hint of sweetness can work well with milder Indian-spiced dishes like lamb curry.
Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding vines tend to produce wine that is concentrated, complex, and elegant.