Wednesday, February 3, 2010

ZAP festival round-up

ZAP are the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers - their annual Zinfandel festival is one of the biggest public wine events of the year. It was held last weekend in two of the old piers at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

I've never attended the ZAP festival before and was a little surprised by the scale of it; it's almost twice as big as Pinot Days, which means that parking is nigh on impossible, even for the morning trade only session.

Overall I was very impressed with the way the event was run. I particularly appreciated the bottled water and sourdough baguettes, though next year I need to bring a jacket with more pockets and perhaps a couple of spare arms to hold my wine glass, spit cup, programme and iPhone. On that note my only minor complaint was that I'd have liked to have seen some more free tables so that people can step away from the pouring to taste the wines.

Something that the organisers might like to consider is a way of colour coding the producers by region; at Pinot Paradise last year each winery had coloured balloons indicating the grape sources - Corralitos, Skyline, etc. This would be great at ZAP so that you can see from a distance which producers are from Dry Creek, Paso Robles, Sierra Foothills etc.

I didn't really take detailed notes - it's near impossible in that format; instead I posted a few brief impressions on Twitter if anyone's interested. Here are a few of my conclusions.

2007 and 2008 both seem to be excellent vintages. The 2008s seem very concentrated due to the lower yields. Ridge were pouring eight 2008s, all of them 90+ pointers in my view. The "Carmichael" was particularly interesting, it's from a block within the Geyserville vineyard.

2006 was clearly a weaker vintage, but I found a particularly nice one from Bradford Mountain at just $22. However I've not been able to find it at retail anywhere; most places are still carrying the 2005. And though the 2005 vintage may have been slammed by some critics I can recommend the 2005 Lion Oaks from Storrs.

I was pleasantly surprised by some of the offerings from Paso Robles, including Gray Wolf Cellars. Another surprise was a boxed Zinfandel from Bota Box. Priced at under $20 for a 3L box it was a light, fruity wine that's way better than anything else I've tried in its price range.

I don't like Zinfandel 'port'.