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Wine Maker Marks Harvest With a New Kind of Nouveau

October 13, 1987|BRUCE KEPPEL

The annual attempt to be newest of the new among nouveau wines has shifted a bit with Delicato Vineyard's release this month of a nouveau-style White Zinfandel--a first, and a month ahead of the arrival of France's Beaujolais Nouveau.

The nouveau business began decades ago in France, where growers in Burgundy celebrated the year's harvest by making a Beaujolais wine by a process called carbonic maceration, in which the weight of the clumps of grapes themselves releases juice that, once fermented, yields a fruity, violet-tinged red wine best drunk young.

Its release on Nov. 15 was always hailed in Paris bistros as the arrival of the vin de l'annee , or wine of the year.

Now abridged to nouveau, the arrival has become a global celebration--with many a copycat vineyard in California joining in with its own so-called nouveau-style fall wines.

But a White Zinfandel nouveau? White Zinfandel is made from early picked grapes whose juice is quickly separated from the red skins.

The resulting wine is released without aging--a boon to vintners.

So what's so nouveau about Delicato Vineyard's product?

Project manager Robert Indelicato, one of half a dozen Indelicatos who run the 1.25-million-case winery at Manteca in the San Joaquin Valley, said the wine is made no differently. But, he said, the first of each year's product will be specially labeled to call attention to it.

"It's our celebration of the harvest," he said, "the first California wine made from this season's grapes."

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