The number of so-called California white zinfandels is expected to increase four-fold this year as more than 125 wineries market their 1984 offerings of this rose' wine made from zinfandel grapes.
These wines, at their best, are remarkably fresh, crisp, fruity and ideal for casual quaffing, or washing down some spicy oriental or creole cooking. However, at their worst, they are cloyingly sweet, heavy and dull. Unfortunately, the majority of these wines are made in the latter style.
Another problem I have is that most California wineries refuse to call these vibrant-pink, salmon or light-ruby wines what they are: rose'. None is a white wine, yet most of them are called white zinfandel or zinfandel blanc.
This is done because the winery marketing people have told their clients that Americans consider rose' wine unchic or just a cop-out choice and will not drink it. By calling a rose' wine a white wine, or so the thinking goes, the consumer can then rest assured that he or she has made the right choice. This is, I think, an insult to the average wine consumer's intelligence.
In any event, I recently tasted 22 currently available "white" zinfandels. I found four that I can unhesitatingly recommend for their fresh, delicate, aromatic, effusively fruity and refreshing personalities. With hot, humid weather ready to descend on the area, you would be foolish not to try one of these delightful wines.
They are perfect for serving as a well-chilled aperitif and they can do double duty as a thirst-quenching accompaniment to spicy foods. Be sure to buy only wines from the 1984 vintage, as these wines soon become stale and old, and they're all made to be drunk as quickly as possible after their release.
My four favorite 1984 white zinfandels are:
(1) Kenwood White Zinfandel ($5.49), Sonoma County.
(2) Buehler ($5.49), Napa Valley.
(3) DeLoach ($5.99), Sonoma County.
(4) J. Pedroncelli ($4.49), Sonoma County.
All these wines are moderate in alcohol with no more than 11 1/2 to 12 percent alcohol by volume. They all have between 1 and 2 percent residual sugar, which gives them a slightly sweet taste. However, they all share a wonderful crisp acidity, which gives the wines excellent balance to go along with their aromatic, delightfully fresh fruity bouquets.