By K.L. Riley
This week I had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of Brett Deleuze president of ZD winery out of Napa California. Mr. Deleuze is a soft spoken, gracious and enlightened individual who allowed me to sit with him and I want to share my thoughts and our conversation.
He was born into the wine business. Deleuze’s father was an aerospace engineer who started making wine out of his home garage in 1969 and turned his passion for wine into a successful winery. For a man who was born into the wine business, I found Mr Deleuze to be incredibly humble and driven to maintain the integrity and diligence of ZD wines. ZD winery’s first varietal was pinot noir, and his favorite grape varietal. As some of you might already know pinot noir is a very complicated grape to grow and it demands a certain climate to thrive which is the reason the first property his father bought was in Carneros, California. When the winery was moved to Rutherford in 1978 ZD also started growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Reserve Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Reserve Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, Syrah, and their flagship Abacus. The Gewürztraminer and Syrah are only available at ZD winery or online so if you wish to try these varietals I strongly recommend visiting the winery, this will enable you to sample all of these great wines as well as possibly meeting the man himself.
Mr. Deleuze also proves himself to be an explorer of new wines. When I asked him if he still tried new wines from different wineries he replied “Definitely!”, which to me proves that he is opened minded, an important quality for anyone who is looking towards the future.
Now I would like to talk about ZD’s flagship, Abacus! Abacus is one of the most incredible wines I have ever had the opportunity to drink. Abacus is a non-vintage Cabernet. I know what you’re thinking “How is this possible?” The first bottling of Abacus was released in 1999 and it was a blend of cabernet grapes from 1992- 1998. This system of blending is called the Solera System which was developed by Spanish and Portugese wine makers. This style of wine making provides wines of a constant age as well as ensuring a certain homogeneity of product over different vintages. Since ZD started making wine in this style they have produced 10 bottlings (one bottling per year) that contain 16 vintages of wine. Every year Abacus adds a vintage giving the wine a different structure and complexity. The Abacus is a realitively expensive bottle of wine and it is worth every penny, from the great packaging, the medallion that comes with every bottle ( great golf ball marker on the course), to its irresistible flavors, and the mystique of Abacus.
I have always adored ZD wines especially the ZD Reserve Pinot Noir. That is why it was very special for me to be able to sit with Mr Deleuze. ZD Reserve Pinot is an amazing example of how good Pinots from Carneros can be -with a soothing bouquet of cherry and lush fruit. Some wine makers in that region have a tendency to produce Pinots that have great fruit but seem to lack acidity and structure. I think this is very well balanced wine. This is definitely not the case for ZD Reserve Pinot, it has a perfect amount of acidity and a hint of tartness that simultaneously gives the wine excellent ageability and drinkability.
I would like to thank Mr. Deleuze for his time and I encourage everyone to try ZD Wines, and if you know ZD Wines try a different varietal this time. Sometimes when we find wines we like it is hard to deviate from our favorite bottles but as I have found out over the years it’s all about learning as well as enjoying.