I Love the 80s

I didn’t expect to get so riled up. I thought I’d already endured most of the insults that might be hurled my way. “Jammy.”




“You mean, white zin?” (cue distasteful expression).

“Too sweet” (cue a squished up, distasteful expression).

A reviewer once asked me “why bother” to make zinfandel if I already make pinot. Another time, a cadre of high and mighty taste-makers dismissed zinfandel as one big joke, right in front of me, while I was pouring zin. But the following zinger is my all time favorites. Pinot person writes, “I see your "coming out" is at World of Pinot Noir and I look forward to seeing you. Don't bring any of that Rockpile Zin shit.” But the reality is that zinfandel can be balanced, aromatic, food-friendly, and totally delicious. You just need to find the right producer for your taste buds. Which is why upon reading the November 2 issue of The New Yorker on my recent return flight from Atlanta, I nearly lost my mind. In a restaurant review on page 25, I read the following passage, printed right below a food-porn worthy, glamour shot of succulent, golden-skinned, oven roasted chicken.

“Is there anything more eighties that having a lot of money? Maybe melon and prosciutto. And caviar blinis. Zinfandel, for sure.”

Whoa. What? For the record, my superb Rockpile grower, Mr. Chris Mauritson, recently e-mailed me the following note:

"Opened a bottle of the 2013 you gave us for dinner last night. WOW! You nailed it! It's like I remember Zin 30 years ago. Loved it.”

Oh my God, I like totally thought that was like for sure a compliment, being an 80’s zinfandel. It’s like totally iconic, like Madonna, stirrup pants, or a bottle of Ridge. Seriously, though, I was so touched by Chris’ compliment that I asked Brian to post it on Facebook. (He refused). There was a time when luscious, balanced, beautiful zinfandels put California on the wine map. Now I’m finding zinfandel to be a tough sell in the marketplace. And it bums me out.

The magazine review goes on to laud the menu at “Jams,” noting “not all resurrections from the era are bad news.” Spiced nuts, Baked Alaska, and brown butter glazed gnocchi all get props. But that wine reference is left dangling, like Johannisberg Riesling or Riunite. Except while Johannisberg Riesling and Riunite have vanished from American retail shelves, I am still here, making zinfandel, vintage after vintage. And being the modest and demure girl that I am, I’ll still hazard that my 2013 is stellar.

So here is my modest proposal, dear readers. If anyone in the blog-o-ether-sphere knows Chef Jonathan Waxman, of Jams restaurant, 1414 6th Avenue, NYC, please ask him to call me. I will proudly partner with him and his blockbuster “revival” restaurant Jams as his sole purveyor of zinfandel. I promise that my 2013 zin pairs perfectly with gnocchi, spiced nuts, and that gorgeous roast chicken. As for Baked Alaska…not so much.