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One More Bottle of Wine: Gnarly Head 2004 Old Vine Zinfandel

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jan 15, 2008 6:30PM


Grapevines, like everything else in nature, have a limited life span. The older a vine becomes, the less fruit it produces. But the fruit that these vines yield is bursting with flavor and character that like fruit from younger vines lack. It takes a patient winemaker to make a quality wine from this fruit.

The Gnarly Head vineyard in Lodi, California is highly regarded for the quality of their old vine zinfandel. Before trellising vines became a standard practice, winemakers would sometimes let their grape vines grow as free-standing vines, also known as "head-trained" vines. As the vines mature, they resemble bushes with twisted trunks and free-spreading branches; think of tomato plants that haven't been pruned or staked. Gnarly Head's zinfandel comes from eighty-year-old vines, and the bright fruits one expects from a traditional zin are concentrated here. This is just an enjoyable wine that warms in texture and flavor as it opens up to air.

Best of all, Gnarly Head is a pretty commonplace wine brand. You can find it anywhere from Binny's to Jewel-Osco and CVS. Pair it with pizza, steak, or a steaming hot bowl of gumbo.