Domestic Selection: Zinfandel, 1988. Glenn Ellen

The Benziger family moved to Glen Ellen California in 1980 from White Plains, New York to set up a boutique winery. The rest is truly California wine making history.

The 1981 crush came before construction of the winery was fin­ished. There was no electricity. There were no wine storage tanks. The crush went on through the night with the help of a wine mak­ing manual, car headlights and a rented milk truck for wine storage. That year, out of 478 wines, the sauvignon blanc and the chardon­nay they made were judged one and two at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Enter Glenn Ellen to the wine making limelight.

Eyeing a market niche, Bruno Benziger, the wineries founder, turned to the surplus wine market to expand the winery’s production capacity. He felt there was a latent opportunity between the jug wine market and the premium ($10.00-­$25.00/bottle) varietal wine mar­ket. Glenn Ellen now produces 3.4 million cases of wine a year (did I mention that the 1981 crush pro­duced 4200 cases!). So much for the boutique winery, Bruno!

You might now ask, “Why is Paul sending us a wine from a winery we see everyday at the markets?”. The winery you may see every day but the wine you will not! Only 1200 cases of this wine were produced and there are only two places it can be purchased; the winery, and The Club. Actually, Bruno and his family have maintained their original ob­jective by introducing Benziger of Glenn Ellen premium wines. Our wine was made from the grapes for the Benziger line, estate grown by the Benziger family. Do not be fooled by the California appellation on the label: this is 100% Sonoma County Zinfandel.

Zinfandel is said to have ori­gins from Yugoslavia, Hungary and around Bari, Italy. The Zinfandel that thrives in California is closest to the latter. It is a very ver­satile grape, producing light red wines, bold red wines, sweet late harvest wines and, of course, since 1972, white wines. All of these from the same grape, just different vinification techniques.

Our selection is brilliant garnet red throughout. The body is light to medium, yet full flavored. Very approachable. Flavors of raspber­ry, bing cherry and bosenberry come through in the middle. The wine finishes with a hint of black pepper. The tannins are soft and pleasant.

Serve with BBQ chicken pizza, red pasta dishes or beef.

Cellaring Notes: Delicious now through mid 1992.

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