by Fred McMillin
The first wine ever produced by the ZD winery was a 1969 Pinot Noir from the Carneros. It was the first to use the word Carneros on a wine label.
The 1996 Carneros Pinor Noir has already won gold medals at the Los Angeles County Fair and at the Tasters' Guild. Critic Norm Roby gave it a near-perfect 95!
The '96 is Robert de Leuze's 13th vintage as head winemaker. He produced his first wine at age eleven; it was Mead, made from honey. His '96 Pinot is a honey, too.
The Rest of the Story
If you like your wineries small, ZD is for you. The last time I checked it was a 10-person operation, five de Lenze family members and five veteran staffers. They make only Cab, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Robert, who replaced his father as winemaker in 1983, follows every wine from harvest to bottling. He "worries each wine through the winery." The critics believe it. I recall expert James Gallager saying, "The ZD was as always--to die for." James Laube: "Quality across the board...with each of the wines showing an exotic edge." Now, about that Pinot.
1996 Pinot Noir, Carneros
A few years ago, the winery expanded to an annual capacity of 20,000 cases...quite a change from that first Pinot Noir vintage, which was made in a rented shed by two aircraft engineers, Gino Zepponi (the "Z"), and Norman de Leuze (the "D").
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