Wine Review – 2003 Brown Vineyard Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California


Notice the crinkled label. Telling evidence that suggests the wine was properly stored, but not properly protected from the humidity in our wine fridge.

This wine was slated for a review and a post in a couple of days, but I decided to do it today as a tribute to the great Martin Luther King jr., whose legacy we honored yesterday, as well as to celebrate the inauguration of our 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama.  What a day it is, yes what a day.  These are exciting times indeed.  MLK day honored a great man who helped lay the groundwork for what we witnessed this morning at the U.S. Capitol.  Let’s hope for brighter things to come for our country in the upcoming years.

African American vintners are few and far between in the wine industry, so with all the great things that are happening, I’d like to highlight a wine made by an African American grape growing and wine making family, Brown Estate.  The 2003 Brown Vineyard Zinfandel was a treat we had with some of our favorite Chinese food.  I love wine with Chinese food!  I know a lot of people will not agree with me, since most people I speak with reach for a cold brewskie, but I think wine is a better choice for Chinese cuisine.  Why?  It just is.  White wines such as rieslings and viognier and red wines such as syrah/shiraz & zinfandel really work well with the broad spectrum of savory, sweet, salty and tangy dishes of Chinese cuisine.  The 2003 Brown Vineyard Zinfandel was a spicy, berry-laden, juicy, heck-of-a-match with our salt and pepper fried pork chop and stir fried dried string beans with ground pork.  My mouth is watering again just thinking about the meal.  Asian dishes that are soy based and tend to the salty, need red or white wines that have sweetness, are fruit-driven and possess low alcohol.  These characteristics help balance everything out in the mouth.  Low alcohol shouldn’t actually matter anymore nowadays though, because other than rieslings, you’re really not going to find anything under 10% alcohol, especially in the red wine arena.  With that said, this zin fit the bill.

Because the wine had a little age on it, it managed to lose all the angular and harsh tannins that were in the wine when we tasted it about a year and a half ago.  Early in its life the wine was also pretty full-blown in terms of the fruit and alcohol explosion factor.  Some much-needed hibernation time was all that was needed to help mellow out the cranky tannins and rambunctious fruit and alcohol.

The Brown Family has been farming in the Napa Valley for close to thirty years now.  Initially, they sold their grapes to other wineries, but about fifteen years ago they started making their own wine from their grapes.  I’m glad they started doing so, because they’ve helped keep many zin fans happy for the past fifteen years.  It’s always a good thing when a farming family decides to start reaping the rewards of their hands-on hard work by jumping into the wine making side.  Nobody knows their grapes better than themselves, so why not?

Brown Estate

This wine cost about $32 retail and can be found on their website or at your neighborhood fine wine store.


2 thoughts on “Wine Review – 2003 Brown Vineyard Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California

  1. Aloha, Andre and Susan,

    Really enjoyed this review – had never heard of an African-American family winery. Sounds great – and now I’m ono for Chinese food, too. Miss our Thursday and Friday funfests at the People’s Wine Shop, but the blog is a great way to still benefit from your wise recommendations.

    Saw your article in today’s Advertiser, which reminded me of your blog – it’s bookmarked now so I can visit it more often.


    • Danee,
      So nice to see your name again. We miss you. Thanks for the comment and especially for you bookmarking our blog. We hope to see you soon.
      Andre & Susan

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