The OZV Lodi ZInfandel 2012, OZV stands for Old ZInfandel Vines, is 96% Zinfandel and 4% Petite Sirah sourced from 50 to 120 year old ZInfandel vines located in the Lodi AVA, east and a little south of Napa. The OZV Zinfandel is produced by Oak Ridge Winery, started in 1934 as a wine co-op and was purchased and then modernized in 2001 by Maggio-Reynolds Family Vineyards, who produce their own line of fine wines. Some of this ZInfandel is aged in stain-less steel and the rest was aged in various oak barrels, to get a blend of bright fruit forward Zin and toasty, oak influenced Zinfandel. The alcohol content is a rather accurate 13.95%.
What’s the big deal about old vines, you ask? It is a wine fact that grapevines need to struggle to produce complex grapes. Vines that have more than enough nutrients and moisture make wines that are simple and not very interesting. The best vineyards in the world exist on marginal soil, from the steep, rock strewn slopes in Mosel, the soils that barely support cultivation in Rioja and the fossil strewn vineyards of Burgundy, challenging soil equals great wine. That is where old vines come in, like your Grandma struggling up a flight of stairs because her knees ain’t what they used to be, old vines naturally struggle to bring nourishment to the grapes. Because of the world-wide demand for wine, not every vineyards can be placed on perfect ground (by perfect, I mean not so good). With Lodi ZInfandel, some vineyards were planted long ago as a source of communion wine for the church and years latter some vineyards were planted to meet the demand during the White ZInfandel craze. So of those vineyards, when new, some were very good and some were more modest, but after all this time, vineyards that for years had been overlooked and under-rated, are now producing world-class grapes. Not all grapes do well as old vines, Cabernet Sauvignon for instance, do not age well and those vineyards are replanted on a regular basis, Zinfandel vines age very well.
The color is deep, dark black cherry red. The nose is dark berries, cooking spice, molasses and toasty vanilla. The OZV is a bright, fresh, balanced Zinfandel with a good deal of length. It tastes of raspberry, plum, cinnamon, Dove chocolate and Christmas spices. The mid-palate adds cherries in cream, orange zest, tart cranberry and cocoa powder. The tannins are soft and the acidity is well-balanced. The finish is full and goes on and on.
In the past, many Zinfandel producers made Zinfandel that was so big and bold, that they overpowered all the nuances of the old vine grapes. These wines were/are very popular and can’t be beat when paired with a top-notch slab of BBQ ribs. Today, more winemakers are exploring the possibilities of old vine ZInfandel grapes and the OZV Lodi Zinfandel 2012 is one of those wines. The OZV will still kick but with BBQ, but there is more to this Zin than that. The OZV ZInfandel has elegance and balance, the first pairing that popped into my head was the Pork in Tomamole from Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill. Zinfandel is America’s wine, yeah it originally came from Italy (Primitivo) and before that Croatia, but it does not shine in either of those countries like it does in Northern California. It’s the classic immigrant story, coming from the Old World, were it didn’t get a fair shake, to the New World, where it gets a chance to show what it can do. Old vine Zinfandel is an American success story and the OZV Lodi Zinfandel 2012 is a shining and very tasty example.
this bottle was received as a sample