by Fred McMillin
for December 22, 1997

A Steele at $8.50

Prologue: Our 1996 Shooting Star Zin Gris is produced by a winemaking process the French call "by sang." The result is a true Rose (roh-zay), not a White Zinfandel.

...Jed Steele of Steele Wines

The Rest of the Story: Pink wines obtain their color by dissolving pigment from the red wine skins. The juice for White Zinfandel usually is left in contact with the skins for a few hours before they are completely removed. The result is the familiar light pink or blush color.

Jed didn't do that. The contact time was about 40 hours, creating a much deeper, "true Rose" color. Then, 20% of the juice is drained off and becomes the Zin Gris. The other 80% of the juice remains with the skins and becomes an intensely-flavored conventional red Zinfandel. Thus, four cases of red Zinfandel are made for each case of Zin Gris.

The Wine:
1996 Zin Gris, Pacini Vineyard, Mendocino County Shooting Star (second label of Steele Wines)
Tasting Notes—MANY more flavors than a White Zin; spicy stawberry with 0.6% sugar to increase fruitiness without any sweetness. Cool one hour in frig.
Food Affinities—I enjoy a quaffable (large sips) wine to extinguish the flames in Cajun dishes. Jed's Gris was a real pleasure with a two-alarm, authentic Creol Jambalaya (Shrimp, Duck and Andouille) at The Elite Cafe in San Francisco, (415) 346-8668.
Winery Contact—Mrs. Jed Steele (Marie), (707) 279-9475.

Postscript: Jed not only is one of California's best winemakers, he must be one of the smartest. Look at the titles of two papers he published with his U.C.-Davis prof R.E. Kunkee.

1) "Deacidification of musts from the western United States by calcium double-salt precipitation," Steele and Kunkee.

2) "Deacidification of high acid California wines by calcium double-salt precipitation," Steele and Kunkee.

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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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