by Fred McMillin
A New Angel
"The best samples [of Zinfandel] are like angels' visits, few and far between."
...From the dust jacket of Angels' Visits by David Darlington, 1991
The Rest of the Story
We have a new angel on the block, by a winery that achieved fame with the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff making Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, not Zinfandel. However, author Darlington tells us Andre, the marvelous Beaulieu winemaker, was well aware of Zinfandel as early as 1950. In fact, the Moscow-born grape genius even specified the best area of the Napa Valley for Zinfandel, the warmer northern end.
These days, Beaulieu has another highly-respected veteran winemaker, Joel Aiken (see photo). And he's made a spectacular Zin from grapes grown in the northern end of the Valley...St. Helena and Calistoga vineyards.
In making the wine, about 30% of the grapes were NOT crushed. This yields intense raspberry flavors that my students spotted immediately. Then, Joel found three exceptional lots aging entirely in new oak, and used only those three for our new angel. Here it is.
1997 Signet Collection Zinfandel
Postscript—More About Angels (and Misprints)
The first line of the Darlington book dust jacket explains: "In 1988 a California horticulturist named George Husmann wrote: "The best samples are like angels' visits, few and far between." By 1988 George could give us a first-hand account of angels, since Prof. George Husmann was born in 1827 and joined the angels in 1902!
Note: If the Signet is sold out at your wine shop, try BV's '97 Napa Valley Zin, at a bargain 14 bucks!
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