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The Week in Zinfandel (4/25/16)

Welcome to the latest installment of The Week in Zinfandel. If I missed your post or story please send me a link and I will be sure to include it next week. Cheers!

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2013 ACORN Zinfandel Alegría Vineyards

Zinfandel of the Month is a regular feature on Zinfandel Chronicles. Keep in mind that although the Zinfandel of the Month might be an older bottle, the current vintage will be one you can find at retail or via the mailing list.

The May Zinfandel of the Month is the 2013 ACORN Zinfandel Heritage Vines Alegría Vineyards.

Bill and Betsy Nachbaur purchased Alegria Vineyard in 1990. Situated in the Russian River Valley, Alegría Vineyards has 26 acres planted with Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, and many lesser-known varieties. The oldest part of the vineyard dates back to the 1890’s.

For the first many years Bill farmed the vineyard and the grapes were sold. ACORN Winery was founded in 1994 and the first release was a Sangiovese in 1996. Clay Mauritson is the consulting winemaker.

The 2013 Heritage Vines Zinfandel is actually a blend of 16 different varieties. 78% Zinfandel, 13% Alicante Bouschet and 7% Petite Sirah. The remaining 2% of the field blend is comprised of 13 varieties.

Maroon in color. 14.1% ABV. Big nose of juicy black fruits, vanilla bean and plums. Medium body with mouth watering acidity. Elegant claret style Zinfandel. Blackberry, raspberry, baking spices and pepper on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. Give this wine a year in the cellar then drink over the next 3-5.

My rating: 92 points.

$45 at the winery and select retail in just a few states.

ACORN Winery is open for sales and tasting by appointment only. I look forward to visiting on my next trip to the Russian River Valley.

This review was based on a sample provided by the winery.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel

The April Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.

2010 was an exceptionally tough vintage for Zinfandel producers. California endured record-breaking low temperatures throughout the spring. The result was late budbreak. Summer wasn’t much better. It was the second coldest July in 50 years in Napa and Sonoma. Things became really problematic in late August when temperatures pushed first into the high 90s and then cracked 100 for several days, breaking records around Northern California. Many vineyards were wiped out by the heat including Papera and Carlisle. Ultimately though, the grapes that made it through to harvest, were of high quality.

The Contenders:

2010 Bedrock Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard – The 2010 Zinfandel Monte Rosso Old-Vine shows the darker side of Zinfandel in its black fruit, spices, flowers and licorice. It displays tremendous depth and intensity in a rich, round style that is hugely appealing. The blend is 96% old-vine Zinfandel (planted in 1886) and 4% Alicante Bouschet. Ironically, this is a block Twain-Peterson’s father, Joel Peterson, used for some of the Ravenswood wines when Twain-Peterson was a child. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard – Freshly cut flowers, spices and mint all jump from the glass in the 2010 Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard. Nuanced and detailed, the 2010 Bedrock comes across as fresh, vibrant and beautifully delineated from start to finish. This is very bright and floral, especially for the year. Mike Officer told me the fruit at Bedrock had matured to the point it could withstand the sweltering heat from the spikes that arrived in late August. The 2010 is a field blend of approximately 86% Zinfandel, 11% Mourvedre and 3% Petite Sirah/Alicante Bouschet. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2020. 92 points from the Wine Advocate.

2010 Turley Zinfandel Dragon Vineyard – The 2010 Zinfandel Dragon Vineyard is voluptuous and beguiling from the very first taste. A wine of considerable impact, the Dragon Vineyard offers up blackberry jam, violets, cloves and a host of other dark aromas and flavors. This is one of the more intriguing wines in the lineup. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel Should I Open?

  • 2010 Bedrock Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard (45%, 31 Votes)
  • 2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard (29%, 20 Votes)
  • 2010 Turley Zinfandel Dragon Vineyard (26%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 69

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, please do let me know if you have any suggestions for the May installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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New Releases from ACORN Winery

Bill and Betsy Nachbaur purchased Alegria Vineyard in 1990. Situated in the Russian River Valley, Alegría Vineyards has 26 acres planted with Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, and many lesser-known varieties. The oldest part of the vineyard dates back to the 1890’s. For the first many years Bill farmed the vineyard and the grapes were sold. ACORN Winery was founded in 1994 and the first release was a Sangiovese in 1996. Clay Mauritson is the consulting winemaker.

I recently had the opportunity to try some of the wineries new releases.

2013 ACORN Medley – Crimson in color. 14.1% ABV. A field blend of sixteen varieties including Syrah, Sangiovese and Zinfandel. Super nose of black fruits, lavender and pepper. Medium to full bodies with lots of acidity. Rich and lush on the palate. Flavors of blackberry, raspberry, spice and graphite. Supple tannins on a very long finish. Really pretty wine. Drink over the next 3-5 years. $48 at the winery. My rating: 92 points.

2013 ACORN Axiom Syrah – Purple in color. 14.2% ABV. 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier. Black fruits, flowers and black olives on the nose. Medium body with strong acidity. Rich and mouth coating on the palate. Flavors of blackberries, plums, dark chocolate and pepper. The wine has healthy tannins on a long finish. Drink over the next 2-4 years. $36 at the winery. My rating: 90 points.

2013 ACORN Sangiovese – Ruby red in color. 14.1% ABV. 98% Sangiovese, 1% Canaiolo Nero and 1% Mammolo Toscano. Subtle aromas of cherry, iron and sage. Light body with medium acidity. Rich and charming on the palate. Flavors of cherry, cranberry and blood on the palate. The finish is long and tangy. This wine captures the essence of Old World Sangiovese despite being grown in the Russian River Valley. Nicely done. Drink over the next 2-4 years. $30 at the winery. My rating: 91 points.

These reviews were based on samples provided by the winery.

The wines from ACORN tend to be more rustic in style and lend themselves favorably to hearty foods like pasta and grilled meats.

ACORN Winery is open for sales and tasting by appointment only. I look forward to visiting on my next trip to the Russian River Valley.

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The Week in Zinfandel (4/18/16)

Welcome to the latest installment of The Week in Zinfandel. If I missed your post or story please send me a link and I will be sure to include it next week. Cheers!

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2010 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands – Bottle Notes

Kosta Browne began as a dream shared by Dan Kosta and Michael Browne. In the summer of 1997, while working at John Ash & Co. restaurant in Santa Rosa, California, Dan and Michael decided to pool their tips and venture into winemaking. Eighteen years later, Kosta Browne is one of the most sought after Pinot Noirs in all of California. At present time they produce three appellation Pinot Noirs, eight single vineyard Pinot Noirs and a Chardonnay.

From Garys’, Pisoni, Rosella’s, Sierra Mar and Soberanes Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Dark crimson in color. 14.5% ABV. Sexy nose of black cherry, baking spices and plums. Medium body with medium acidity. Rich and supple with layers upon layers of gorgeous fruit. Cherries, cola, cloves and nutmegs on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Simply delicious Pinot Noir to drink over the next 2-3 years while you wait on the Single Vineyard Designates.

My rating: 92 points.

As I mentioned in the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists, Kosta Browne is one of hardest lists to crack. Maybe so, but you’ve got nothing to lose by putting your name on the waiting list. Good luck!

Kosta Browne fared well in last year’s version of The 2015 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

Finally, my favorite KB blog post, Kosta Browne Does Not Taste Like Burgundy. Get Over It.

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2010 Rochioli Pinot Noir Estate – Bottle Notes

Rochioli is one of the true pioneers in Russian River Valley, with a winemaking history dating back to the the late 1950′s. In 1987 Rochioli released their first estate wine, the 1985 Rochioli Pinot Noir. Although best known for their world class Pinot Noir, Rochioli also produces remarkable Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

The winery recently published a detailed map of the Estate Vineyard that is required viewing for fans of the winery.

Crimson in color. 14.5% ABV. Gorgeous nose of red fruits, cloves, nutmeg and earth. Medium body with tremendous acidity. Perfectly balanced with nice mouth feel. Black cherry, strawberry, cranberry and pomegranate on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The current version was approximately $58 off the mailing list.

At present time (and for the foreseeable future) buying from Rochioli via the mailing list is not an option. The Estate wines do show up at retail periodically, and the winery’s Russian River Valley tasting room is still open for public tasting. They may only be pouring a couple of wines, but it’s a great opportunity to buy a bottle for a picnic on their lovely patio and a few more to bring home for the cellar.

I’ve blogged about Rochioli previously in the The 2015 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists.

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2014 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County – Bottle Notes

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards was founded in 1998 by Mike and Kendall Officer. Their passion is clear: Small lots of Zinfandel and Syrah from exceptional, historic vineyards. Many of these vineyards are heritage sites planted by Italian immigrants and date back to the late 1800s . They have also recently added their first whites, two blends from historic, old-vine vineyards plus Sonoma County’s first ever Grüner Veltliner.

Opaque purple in color. 15.1% ABV. 88% Zinfandel, 6% Petite Sirah and 6% Alicante Bouschet. Fantastic nose of brambly red fruits, cloves and licorice. Rich, plush and creamy with loads of acidity. Raspberry, blackberry, earth and spice on the palate. The finish is exquisite. As always, a wine to drink over the next 2-3 years so you can keep your hands off the single vineyard Zins. An absolute steal at $25.

My rating: 92 points.

Current vintages of the various Carlisle wines are available via the mailing list, which is exceptionally long. Several retail outlets in California stock Carlisle, but you need to check with them at the time the winery releases their wines in the Spring and Fall.

I’ve wrote about Carlisle previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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The Week in Zinfandel (4/11/16)

Welcome to the latest installment of The Week in Zinfandel. If I missed your post or story please send me a link and I will be sure to include it next week. Cheers!

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2006 Cayuse Syrah En Cerise Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes and decided to purchase the land.

En Cerise Vineyard was planted in 1998. Translated from French, it means cherry – appropriate as the site was a former orchard.

Ruby red in color. 14.6% ABV. Textbook Cayuse on the nose with aromas of cherries, olive brine and cabbage. Medium body with all sorts of acidity. Pure silk on the palate. Flavors of black olives, bacon fat, grilled meat, cherries and pepper. The finish is exceptional. Fantastic Syrah and under appreciated wine in the Cayuse lineup. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 96 points.

The waiting list for the Cayuse mailing list is huge and you need to be well-connected to get a bottle via retail. Either way, current vintages are worth the hunt!

I blogged about Cayuse previously in The Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5.

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