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