Zero-Gravity Zin / Less is More: 2014 Maître-de-Chai Zinfandel Stampede Vineyard

Posted by Joe Salamone

From own-rooted vines nearly 80 years old, this is one of the lightest, most delicate, most thrilling Zinfandels we’ve ever had.

Simply put: do not miss.

It’s a cliché, but sometimes less is more.

At only 12.9% ABV, the inaugural Zinfandel from one of California’s most exciting new producers is a revelation. This is an almost airy red with the lightness and briskness that recalls the mountain wines of climates much cooler than California.

Zinfandel is often too plush, with over-ripe fruit and stinging-alcohol, yet Maître-de-Chai’s 2014 Stampede Zinfandel is a buoyant, energized wine with definition – the characteristic herbal complexity and sweet-fruit exuberance kept in check by the framework of the wine, the ample acidity and super-fine tannins.

The “Stampede vineyard” flaunts own-rooted vines planted in the 1940s and has the sandy loam soils that help Zinfandel achieve a mouthfeel that is silky and gossamer. While the forgotten landscapes of California are still being mapped out by grower-historians like Tegan Passalacqua (Turley / Sandlands) and Morgan Twain-Peterson (Bedrock), it wouldn’t be too surprising to find that when the dust settles, the Stampede vineyard is awarded a hallowed place in the pantheon of Zinfandel vineyards.

Martin Winters and Alex Pitts founded Maître-de-Chai (you can just say “MDC”) in 2012, having met 10 years prior as chef’s at Sonoma’s Cyrus restaurant. If food was the cornerstone of their relationship, it shows in the wines they are making together a decade later. These are, above all else, food-friendly wines, with an energy and balance that makes them so versatile on the dinner table.

It’s saying a lot that Blue Hill in New York poured the MDC Zinfandel alongside chef Dan Barber’s subtle cuisine. The ultimate compliment for a Zinfandel?

Zinfandel can have elegance and it can have freshness. Paul Draper’s Ridge Zinfandels have proven this point for decades. And now, taking advantage of the old-vine treasures of California, the next generation is continuing this journey, proving that less is more.

In terms of quantities, however, less is less. We bought as much as we could, yet that boils down to a few cases.

To order, email or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone

Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

2014 Maître-de-Chai
Zinfandel Stampede Vineyard