It’s harvest time and the winery is abuzz with the activities of the season. Already grapes have started to come in and the delicate process of sorting has begun. It’s careful yet speedy work and the hands of our talented crew move deftly and quickly with practiced precision. Harvest means high energy and long days as the crew gets out to the vineyards in the early morning in order to pick before the warmest part of the day and get the grapes as soon as possible back to the winery. Picking in the early morning is the optimum period of the day, since it allows time to get the highest yield without risk of the heat affecting the chemistry of the grapes. Once picked from the vine, a grapes chemical makeup will immediately begin to alter, and if left too long before entering the crusher, they will begin to ferment on their own, especially if left out in hot sunlight.
September also means its Concert Time here at B.R. Cohn! We’re expecting great attendance this year for the Annual Charity Fall Music Festival and are excited to unveil our inaugural Wine Club Pavilion with exclusive access granted to our wine club members. This is the 27th year of the concert, benefiting local charities and featuring some fantastic bands including, of course, the Doobie Brothers! There are a few GA tickets still available but they are going fast! Hurry on over to our concert page for all the details.
Varietal(s) of the Month: Zinfandel and Primitivo
It has long been a misnomer that Zinfandel and Primitivo are the same grape. While both grapes derive from the same origin, they have over the years grown quite distinct and each developed their own unique characteristics.
The genetic origin of Zinfandel and Primitivo has been traced back to a Croatian varietal known as Crljenak. Through DNA testing against the genetic history of other carefully selected varietals, it has been determined that while Primitivo is a clone a little farther away from Crljenak, Zinfandel is almost identical. Primitivo took off in Italy and Zinfandel found its way to California in 1820 where it would begin its path towards becoming the “distinctly Californian” grape through the highs, lows (white zin anyone?) and now it’s upsurge once again in popularity.
In its earliest days, Zinfandel was a favorite among miners who had flocked to California during the Gold Rush. And as a resilient vine, not overly sensitive to disease, it is not uncommon today to come across vineyards that are over 100 years old and still producing fruit. Great for the big, fruity red it’s known as today, but this resilience can also be blamed for the production of White Zinfandel, a sweet rose style wine that came in to being due to a surplus of zin grapes in the 1980’s. Like many things from that decade, it should never again see the light of day, though jumpsuits and legwarmers are apparently making a comeback, so who knows. It has taken many years for Zinfandel to shake the white zin legacy but it has come into its own with a vengeance, especially with the increasing popularity of smaller wine regions, like the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys of Sonoma County. Though it’s high sugar content often equals high alcohol, which has always been a challenge for Zin producers, it is becoming increasingly common to see lower alcohol Zins. A red that’s often described as “jammy” Zin is known to be full-bodied, bold, and fruit forward. It can also tend to be spicy, making it a fantastic wine for cheese pairing. Try a high quality Parmesan or aged cheddar with fruitier Zins, or a nice rich brie with something on the lighter side.
There is less known about the exact path Primitivo, so named for its tendency to ripen extremely early, took to take root (pun intended) in the Apulia region of Italy. This region is home to a high concentration of vineyards and has been known for high production of low cost wines. However, in recent years there has been more of a focus put on producing lower yields of high quality Primitivo that reflects its distinct characteristics. These include more of an earthiness than is usually associated with Zinfandel though Primitivo does display similarities in fruit tone. Tastes of ripe strawberry and cherry are prominent, elegant tannins come forward as well, contributing to its rustic depth, a distinctly Italian feature. It’s a perfect pasta wine, as well as an excellent pairing with rich meats from the grill.
Do you taste a difference? Let us know! Pour yourself and your friends a comparative tasting and tell us on facebook and twitter, what you think the differences and similarities are between them. Hashtag #ZinvsPrimitivo