Saturday's 17th annual Zinfandel Festival drew its usual crowd of thousands to two massive pavilions at San Francisco's Fort Mason. I spent a portion of my day there interviewing winemakers about the topic of old-vine zinfandels for this Wednesday's Dunne on Wine column in The Bee and for a video to be posted on sacbee.com the same day.
Naturally, these mimes representing Paul Dolan Vineyards didn't have a thing to say on the matter.
After the interviews I got down to the day's serious business, tasting some zinfandels. Can't say I found a whole lot to turn my head, but those that did included the bright and brisk Amador Foothill Winery 2004 Esola Vineyards Shenandoah Valley Zinfandel ($17), which showed that the varietal doesn't need a whole lot of color to be characteristically fruity; the aromatic, spicy and long C.G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery 2005 Shenandoah Valley Zinfandel ($25); the ripe, lush and touch sweet Dogwood Cellars 2005 Mendocino Zinfandel ($28); the firm, robust and pepperty Howell Mountain Vineyards 2005 Bear & Lion Old Vine Napa County Zinfandel ($24); the concentrated and persistent Opolo Vineyards 2005 Paso Robles Reserve Zinfandel ($38); the swaggering Rotta Winery 2004 Paso Robles Giubbini Estate Vineyard Zinfandel ($27); and the spirited yet elegant Rodney Strong Vineyards 2005 Sonoma County Knotty Vines Zinfandel (20).
We spotted longtime zinfandel specialist Kent Rosenblum wandering through the crowd, seeming to look happier than usual. This morning I learned why. He's selling his 30-year-old Alameda winery, Rosenblum, Cellars, to Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines for $105 million, according to Yahoo! Finance. That kind of dough would bring a smile to anyone's face, though Rosenblum, a veterinarian when he isn't making wine, always has been one of the more cheery vintners in the California trade.