by Fred McMillin
for March 10, 1999


ZD Glee


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!

Winemaker Robert de Leuze aboard his new Diemme stainless steel grape press.

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.

The Wine

1996 Pinot Noir, Carneros
ZD Wines, 8383 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA.
Style—Robert makes his Pinot "for delicacy, not power."
Rating—In my blind tasting, it won Best Red of the Tasting, and an EXCELLENT in the scoring.
Contact—Rosa Lee de Leuze, (800) 487-7757
The 1995 Pinot—See the Nov. 27, 1997 WineDay.
Price—$27 range.


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").


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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