© by Sheral Schowe
I guess it has something to do with my California roots. Zinfandel has always been one of my all time favorite wines. The older the vines, the richer the flavor, the deeper the color, the better. None of the light stuff for me, thanks. Some of the Zinfandel vines in California are well over 100 years old. Their gnarly, short, sturdy vines look more like tree trunks than grape vines. They are head pruned instead of trellised up on wires, and accommodate only a few clusters of grapes per vine. Thus,all of the rich, concentrated flavors, and deep opaque red colors.
Some of the oldest Zinfandel vines grow in Amador County. One of Amador's most talented winemakers, Scott Harvey, signed on with Folie a Deux Winery, located in the heart of Napa Valley, in 1996. Since then, the winery has taken giant-sized steps in creating some of the best Zinfandels in California, using grapes from single vineyards in Amador's Shendoah Valley. It's great to have grape connections!
I have visited Folie a Deux Winery on several occasions. It is always a special treat to taste through their wines. I love their light-hearted spirit, as reflected in the name and on the label. Folie a Deux was founded by two psychiatric professionals. When they first mentioned the winery idea to their friends, they laughed and hinted that they may be experiencing somewhat of a folie a deux, which is a psychiatric term defined as the sharing of delusional ideas by two people who are closely associated. They loved the idea so much, they named their winery exactly that. The label reflects another folie a deux of its artist, Susan Ortega, who dreamed with her sister of becoming professional ballerinas.
Although Folie a Deux creates a respectable number of varietal wines along with Zinfandel such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Gewurztraminer, and even a Brut sparkling wine, it is Zinfandel that holds the space on the shelves in Utah so far. My favorite is the D'Agostini Vineyard Zinfandel 1997 from Amador County.($19.50) The grapes come from a 76-year-old vineyard that has been non-irrigated for 18 years. It is barrel aged for 11 months in French and American oak. This wine is a big, full-bodied, rich, jammy wine with delicious black raspberry, and boysenberry cobbler flavors. Swirl this wine boldly in your glass and smell a dense forest, spicy cedar, black cherry and plum emerge.
Another excellent Zinfandel from Folie a Deux is the Amador County 1997 Zinfandel. ($15.65) This one is big, bold, powerful, and bright. The aromas and flavors are pie cherry, and blackberry jam with a black pepper finish that has a nice spicy kick. I have enjoyed this wine in Tucson with some down home authentic Mexican food. This Zinfandel meets the challenge for spicy ethnic food, barbeque, and an accompaniment for any folie a deux you might want to dream up!
Dec. 12, 2000