Nouveau Rouge Zinfandel, Chateau Diana, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

Nouveau Ridge Zinfandel, Chateau Diana, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma

A fruit bomb with white pepper shrapnel, the 2020 Chateau Diana Nouveau Rouge Zinfandel hits the right notes in the right way at the right price.

Nouveau Ridge Zinfandel, Chateau Diana, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma

The Featured Wine of Episode 89: Pairs With Chateau Diana Zinfandel and Post-COVID Possibilities

Nouveau Rouge Means “New Red,” In Case You Couldn’t Figure That Out

When the good folks at The Wine Spies sent this wine for me to try, I was hesitant at first. As you probably surmised from my glowing review of the Beekeeper Zinfandel, I like my zins spicy, not syrupy. So when they told me, “this is not an intellectual wine,” I took it as code for, “this is not a good wine.”

I was wrong.

This is the type of everyday zin you should stock up on instead of perpetuating the kind of self-hatred involved in buying old vine Lodi zin at the grocery store. It balances the sugar and spice beautifully, and has a soft finish that falls off gracefully. And at this price, stocking up on a case of Nouveau Rouge won’t mean blowing off the rent this month.

This “first wine” of the 2020 vintage is fermented for just a few weeks before bottling, just like a Bojoulais Nouveau. Straight from the harvest, to fermentation, and into your mouth. Designed for immediate enjoyment with no aging, it simply bursts with eager, energetic fruit with loads of framboise, maraschino cherry, and a healthy dose of sweet baking spice.

Wine Enthusiast shares our enthusiasm: “Nouveau-style production is in the midst of a monumental comeback. These are wines that are vinified quickly and released soon after bottling, inspired by France’s Beaujolais Nouveau. Now, a handful of West Coast producers have begun to utilize a part of the nouveau technique called carbonic maceration to produce light, easy-drinking reds for immediate consumption and maximum enjoyment.” 

Tasting Profile 

Look: Bright cherry red, with a glowing purple edge

Smell: Simply bursts with eager, energetic fruit with loads of framboise and maraschino cherry

Taste: Not an intellectual or complex wine, but what it lacks there it makes up for in pure unadulterated deliciousness 

Finish: The sweet and milder tannins dissipate fairly quickly, leaving long echoes of juicy red berries 

Pairing: This will go with pretty much anything, like a freshly cut cold watermelon on a hot day 

WINEMAKER: Matt Flick 

VARIETAL: 100% Zinfandel 

VINTAGE: 2020 

APPELLATION: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County VINEYARD: Chateau Diana Estate Vineyard ALCOHOL: 14.6% 

AGING: 3 months 

VESSELS: 100% stainless steel 

About Chateau Diana Winery, Home of Nouveau Rouge

Chateau Diana Winery was founded in 1981, but its beginnings were crafted along a career path that would take Tom Manning, and later, his young family on a coast-to-coast journey. 

Tom was orphaned as a child and raised by his aunt. Though he never finished high school, he was a hard worker from the age of 14. Sales seemed to come naturally to Tom and he moved through the sales ranks of various companies. Eventually, he found a natural fit within the wine industry. 

With his young wife Diane and his expanding family, Tom lived in various states, eventually settling in beautiful Northern California. Residing first in San Francisco, Tom got involved with a rapidly growing wine retailing group, Trader Joe’s. The owner personally selected Tom to develop Negociant Wine Brands. 

With the rapid sales and success that Tom enjoyed, he seized the opportunity to open his own winery facility in 1981. Tom founded Chateau Diana in Healdsburg, CA. Craig, their eldest son, joined Tom and Diane in this exciting venture. Over the next two years, the Mannings developed new wines within the Chateau Diana brand while also looking for a more permanent home for their winery. 

Sonoma – Home Sweet Home

In 1983, they realized their dream with the purchase of the LeBaron Ranch encompassing 60 acres in the Dry Creek Valley. 30 years later, the Manning family honors the LeBarons’ legacy of maintaining a family-owned winery. The business continued to grow with a sales office in Southern California, which their daughter Dawn runs herself. In 1991, their other son Corey joined his sister in the family business. 

The period between 1999 and 2001 held many changes for Chateau Diana and the Manning family. Sadly, the family endured the unexpected loss of winemaker, Craig Manning. This left the growth of the business to Dawn, Corey, and Craig’s wife, Donna. Their dedication and commitment to hard work is a deep family conviction and is key to the accomplishments at Chateau Diana. When walking the grounds of Chateau Diana, you can feel the love and care Craig Manning put into the winery.

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