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by Fred McMillin
for August 21, 2000

 

Swing & Sway with This Roh-Zay


This Just In...1955:

The world's first McDonald's hamburger ($0.l5) stand opens at Des Plaines, Ill.

The world's first Colonel Saunders Kentucky Fried Chicken is opened using 60-year-old Harland Saunders "secret blend of herbs and spices."

The world's first Zinfandel Rosé is made by the Pedroncelli Winery in Sonoma County, California. It's still going strong...the 1999 vintage has just been released. Let's see how it's made. Here are the terms.

Attention, Class!

Free-Run Juice is the grape juice that drains off freshly-crushed grapes without any pressing. It is generally considered superior to the liquid obtained by subsequent pressing, being lower in tannins, etc.

Pedroncelli Zinfandel Vines

Pedroncelli Zinfandel vines still looking good in their 80th year.

Cold Soak refers to letting the Free-Run Juice stand in stainless steel (inert) tanks at a temperature too low to allow fermentation to start but not too low to prevent the juice from extracting color and good flavors from the bits of grape that came along with the juice.

Cold Fermentation's charm was discovered by University of California enologists some seven decades ago. It is conducted in refrigerated stainless steel tanks at temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It increases the yield of attractive aromas and flavors, as it slows the rate of fermentation. This conversion of grape sugars to ethyl alcohol gives off heat. Thus, if you put grape juice and yeast into a container and let 'er rip, it will warm up into the 8Os and use up all the sugar in three or four days. John Pedroncelli keeps his cool, fermentation goes on for two weeks, and there still is a little unconverted sugar in the new wine.

So now we can understand John's description of making man's first Zin Rosé. "The Free-Run Juice is given a 14-hour Cold Soak. Then it is transferred to temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, where Cold Fermentaiton took 15 days. This produced zesty aromas and flavors reminiscent of strawberry and raspberry. [As I pulled the cork on the 1999—before chilling— there was a marvelous surge of strawberry...look for it..]"

Class dismissed, so you can open...


Our Wine of the Day

Pedroncelli Zinfandel Rosé, 1999
Sonoma County
Sugar—Just a trace of sweetness. Much drier than your standard White Zinfandel.
Other Notes—Trace of fizz when first poured. Pleasingly pink.
Food Affinities—Enough backbone for ham and salmon. Fine for fowl.
Contact—Office of Julie Pedroncelli St. John, (707)857-3531, FX (707)857-3812
Rating—For those who enjoy pink wines that are not sweet, and for those who want to taste the descendant of man's first Zin Rosé this is a MUST-TRY!
Price—$7.50


Postscript

What was being used to sing the praises of that first Zin Rosé in 1955? These were the big hits: "Rock Around the Clock", "Sixteen Tons", and "The Yellow Rose of Texas."

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 
 


This page created August 2000

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