Napa Valley, CA - The Black Chicken is another crowd-pleaser - a hedonistic mouthful of rich and fruit saturated Zin. Bursting with jammy/juicy black fruit, the assertive flavors barge their way in and stay for days.
It’s the quality and reputation of Napa Valley wine that inspire crowds of tourists to visit Napa Valley wineries dotting Highway 29, nestled between the Mayacamas mountain range to the west and the Vaca Range to the east.
Despite its limited acreage, Napa Valley is a diverse growing region with many microclimates and varied soil types. Over the 30 miles from the cool San Francisco Bay north through Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga, the average temperature can increase 10 percent. So cool-weather varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive in Carneros, at the southern end of the region; warm-weather grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc fare better in the north.
Zinfandel is one of the classic wines of California, where it has been popular since Gold Rush days. The red Zinfandel grape thrives in warm climate regions, most notably portions of the Central and Sonoma valleys. When fully ripe, Zinfandel grapes contain high amounts of sugar, which can be completely fermented to create a dry and fairly high-alcohol wine, or be left in part as a trace of residual sweetness.
Zinfandel wine made in the traditional fashion may be unoaked, easy-drinking and jammy, or oak-aged and full bodied. Old-vine versions can be particularly intense and rich. Expect flavors of black fruits and spice in all. The full flavors and bit of sweetness make Zinfandel a great match for grilled and barbecued meats, especially those cooked in sweet or tomato-based sauces.