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Oliver Caldwell Cellars Aida Vineyard Zinfandel 1998

Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
    0% ABV
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    Winemaker Notes

    The 1998 Zinfandel is a big, luscious wine, the likes of which is rare either in Napa or Sonoma counties. The wine is deep red briary with a spicy nose which gives the impression of richness, with just a slight topnote of chocolate in the back. The taste in the middle is very full, and not for the timid. Big tannis play out in the finish, which carries a late harvest fruit style, but the structure is very rich and meaty. The Zinfandel can age for many years (unlike most Zins) and has just the right amount of French oak to broaden the flavor profile.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Oliver Caldwell Cellars

    Oliver Caldwell Cellars

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    Oliver Caldwell Cellars, Napa Valley, California
    In 1996 art dealer Oliver and Karen Caldwell purchased the Aida Vineyard, located just north of St. Helena in the Napa Valley. Though well known amongst wine lovers as the source for some extraordinary old vines Petit Syrah and Zinfandel, the vineyard had fallen into disrepair. The Caldwells decided to resurrect the vines, and employed the talents of David Abreu from the Araujo Winery to manage the site and winemaker Tom Eddy to make the wine. The 1996 vintage was the first release of their wine. The 1996 harvest in the Napa Valley was considered difficult by some winemakers due to a shorter growing season and a small crop. However, the Aida Vineyard continued to produce massive, structured wines as it has some of the oldest vines in Napa (dating back to 1922) and gravely, well-drained soil. The intense flavors and level of extract clearly demonstrated that this vintage was no exception to the rule for this vinyard.

    Napa Valley

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    One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960's, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.

    The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

    Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those is the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

    Zinfandel

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    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.

    Perfect Pairings

    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.

    Sommelier Secret

    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.

    LSB43347_1998 Item# 43347