1988 Montelena Estate Zinfandel

Zinfandel is a grape that responds dramatically to each growing year’s weather. When it is a cooler year, the wines can be light and fruity and in hotter seasons they can be almost as strong as any red wine. In most vintages Zinfandel, more than any other fine wine variety, shows each season’s distinctive characteristics. 1988 was a drought year and the resulting wine is in a more concentrated style. The reason why the wine becomes more concentrated in the nose and palate is there are fewer berries per bunch and fewer bunches on each vine. The grape juice at harvest is simply stronger in all flavor aspects.

vintage weather

Hot. Relatively dry winter, warm spring, early bud break. Rainy weather at bloom reduced crop size. Hot summer and a long crush. Like ’87, low production and concentrated wines.

tasting notes

The wine has a very nice bramble and blackberry aromas, with hints of sweet, aromatic spices and is a bit smoky. There is also a bit of prune or raisin (often appearing in a spicy and robust vintage), with pepper and characteristic Zinfandel fruit. You should fine a rather bigger wine with strong fruit on the palate. Since it is a wine from a more powerful vintage, we think it will be best suited to more dramatic or vibrant meals: something like grilled pork chops with lemon and cumin - maybe even a hint of pasilla chile too. Definitely a barbecue wine. A couple more years in the bottle will make it match an even wider range of cuisine.

Harvest Date September 12-13
Sugar At Harvest 23.2º brix
Barrel Aging 6 months
Bottling Date March 1990
Release Date March 1991
Alcohol 13.5%