Import Selection: Zinfandel, 1987, San Martin International Series

A mission Padre was the first to plant grapevines in Baja California; on the site of the first lower Cali­fornia mission circa 1697. But viti­culture was known to Mexico far earlier than that. In 1524 the Mexi­can conqueror Cortez decreed that all Spaniards holding land grants in Mexico had to plant annually, for five years, a thousand grape­vines for each one hundred indians located on their ranchos. That’s one way to start a industry!

The San Martin Winery has long been an industry leader in the Santa Clara/Monterey district. Originally founded in 1906 as a lo­cal growers cooperative, the win­ery has changed hands many times and has now settled down with its current owners, New World Wines Inc.. This multi-national corporation of marketing profes­sionals acquired the winery in 1988. Over the past few years over 4.5 million dollars has been spent on upgrading the facilities and the winery now boasts capacity of over 3 million gallons. The winery owns no vineyards of their own, so, the new owners sent winemak­er/consultant Greg Bruni to Chile and Baja California in search of high quality varietal wines.

Greg Bruni found a winner down south and dispatched a team of technicians to ensure the highest level of quality control be main­tained at the respective winery. This Baja California Zinfandel is one of the first wines San Martin has to offer with their new Interna­tional Series.

Zinfandel grows abundantly in California (including Baja). The origin of Zinfandel is a question. The most popular belief is that it is a descendant of an Italian grape, Primitivo di Manduria, found in the southern regions of Italy. Here, on the Pacific Coast, Zinfan­del yields a full-bodied, deep-colored and long-lived “Bour­deaux” type mellow red wine. At its best, the wine is generous and refined.

This wine scores maximum points with color. Beautifully pink at the edge darkening to an intense magenta; gorgeous. The nose is opulent with fruit; blueberries, blackberries and a strong wood toastiness. Rich, deep and smooth in the mouth the wine has moder­ate acids and good tannins which gives a nice, clean dry finish. No­tice the peppery spice nuance.

Serve at room temperature with hearty meat dishes, fruit glazed foul or spaghetti and meatballs.

Cellaring Notes: Probably at its peak now but may develop 1-2 more years.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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