Domestic Selection: Zinfandel, 1990. Story Vineyards

As in the rest of the wine mak­ing world, it seems each region in California takes on its own person­ality. Certain grapes tend to fair better in certain regions. The May­acamas mountains for its big Ca­bernets, the central coast for its rich Pinot noir, the Carneros dis­trict for its luscious Chardonnay and Amador County for its big (red) Zinfandel. This month’s do­mestic red is one of the best I have had from the Amador district.

In 1969, Ann Story realized a dream and opened the Story Vine­yards overlooking the Consumnes River. She married John Ousley in 1982 and in 1990 the couple need­ed their freedom and set out to sell the winery. Enter Bruce and Jan Tichenor; both pharmacists (good background for winemaking) from the San Francisco Bay area. You see, Bruce and Jan had been mak­ing wine at home and decided that retail pharmacy wasn’t nearly as much fun as winemaking and they, at the same time as the Ousleys, re­alized they needed a change. In March of 1992, a perfect match was made, the Ousleys sold to the Tichenors (our vintage was made under the Ousleys reign).

The Story vineyard sits on a plateau in the Sierra Nevadas at about 1,500′ of elevation over­looking the river. Black, Blue and Live oak trees surround the picnic area from where visitors can eat lunch and relax while watching the river flow.

The vineyards are a story (no pun intended) themselves. Rang­ing from 5-75 years in age, they are planted on their own rootstock (ie. phyloxerra has not visited there).

Zinfandel has unknown origins. Some say it is an indigenous Ital­ian grape, others suggest that it is of Hungarian roots. No doubt, however, that it grows best in Cal­ifornia. And its versatility is its own. This grape makes light fruity blush wines (white Zinfandel), hedonistic desert wines (port), and luscious red wines (as in our selec­tion).

This Zinfandel starts with a clear garnet red color deceivingly light. The nose is full of berries and spice (cinnamon, pepper and vanilla). The age of the vines shows off in the mouth. Full bod­ied with rich concentrated fruit (berries and cherries) and spice (cinnamon and vanilla). The finish is smooth with vanilla and cherry lingering.

Serve at room tempera­ture with chicken in cherry sauce, or a pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, Romano cheese and artichoke hearts.

Cellaring notes: Already three years old, will hold for 2 more.

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