Sunday, 28 August 2016
1974 California Zinfandel, Angelo Papagni
Last week I was asked by Jenny to give her some advice on some wine that she had brought up from a friend's cellar in Edinburgh. The wine had been bought by the friend's late husband during a number of trips to France during the 1970s and perhaps into the 80s.
The majority of the wines were French: from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Beaujolais. A good number were from the 1970 and 1976 vintages. We agreed that I would separate out those that had the potential to be enjoyed when friends came round and those that were worth trying but probably best tried by Jenny on her own. I stressed that she should pull the cork on all of the wines as you never know what is drinkable and what isn't. There are always surprises.
There were about 40-45 bottles. At the end Jenny invited me to choose one to take away in compensation for my advice. I chose the 1974 Zinfandel from Angelo Papagni in Madera, California.
At nearly 42 years old the Papagni Zinfandel has stood up well – quite bricky in colour but still with sweet, spicy fruit and some length. It may not have been at its very best but the 74 Zinfandel was still an enjoyable glass of wine. Nor was it over-alcoholic – just 12.5%.
The wine estate is still in family hands: it is now run by Demetrio Papagni. Unfortunately the business has been through its problems – both Angelo and Demetrio spent time in prison during the 1990s for passing off cheaper Barbera as White Zinfandel. The family business had over-extended during the late 1980s. See this news report by Dan Berger in the Los Angeles Times in November 1993.
Despite this scandal, the Papagni appears to have survived. Alicante Bouchet is one of their specialities – no sign of any Zinfandel for sale now.