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 April Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel Sonoma County.
Dry Creek Vineyard was founded in 1972 by David S. Stare. Kim Stare Wallace now runs the winery and Tim Bell is the winemaker. Dry Creek Vineyard makes a wide array of wines but is certainly best know for it’s Zinfandel program.
Purple in color. 14.5% ABV. 79% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah and 1% Carignane. From 20+ year old vines in Sonoma County. Savory nose of black fruits, plums and earthy loam. Full bodied with medium acidity. Rich, plush and spicy. Black cherry, blackberry, salmon berry and pepper on the palate. Good length on the finish. Easy to drink Zinfandel that is widely available and attractively priced at under $20 per bottle. Drink over the next 2-3 years.
My rating: 89 points.
Although not quite on par with the best values like Carlisle Sonoma County and Turly Old Vines the Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zin compares well with the Ravenswood Appellation Zins and Seghesio Sonoma County. Give it a try!
Saxum Vineyards is located in the Paso Robles AVA of Central California. Founded in the early 2000’s by Justin Smith, a young winemaker who had previously been part-owner of Linne Calodo, Saxum leapt into the limelight in late 2010 when its 2007 James Berry Vineyards wine was named the #1 Wine of 2010 by Wine Spectator. Smith owns the winery with his wife Heather, and produces up to 2,800 cases of wine a year.
The James Berry Vineyard is the Smith family’s estate vineyard. It is located 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean with an average elevation of 1200 feet. This particular bottling is 52% Grenache, 31% Mourvedre and 17% Syrah. The wine was not decanted.
Crimson in color. 15.8% ABV. Blockbuster nose of black fruits, scorched earth, molten licorice and flowers. Full bodied with nice acidity. Exceptional balance. Rich and powerful with great concentration. Black cherry liqueur, creme de cassis and grilled meats on the palate. The finish is extraordinarily long, silky and seamless. This wine takes your breath away. Stunning effort. Drink over the next 3-5 years.
My rating: 98 points.
Current wines from Saxum are available via the mailing list at $98 per bottle. There is a several year wait before you can expect to receive an offer.
Dehlinger Winery is located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County and was founded in 1975 by Tom and Carole Dehlinger. Eva Dehlinger took over winemaking duties in 2007. Known for their Pinot Noir, Dehlinger also makes Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.
Dehlinger Pinot Noirs are sourced from the estate vineyards on Vine Hill Road.
Light red in color. 14.7% ABV. Spellbinding nose of red fruits, forest floor, cloves and mint. Light to medium body with exquisite acidity. Classically built with tremendous mouth feel and almost a sappy sensation on the palate. Flavors of bing cherry, strawberry, earth and mushrooms. Medium length on the finish. Current versions of Dehlinger are more fruit forward and delicious in their own right but I do have an affinity for Dehlinger Pinots from the late 90’s and early 00’s. Best over the next year or so.
My rating: 94 points.
Dehlinger Winery has a great reputation among wine connoisseurs. Wine writers have consistently given strong reviews while praising the winery for its uniqueness, quality, consistency and value. About 75% of their wine is sold via the mailing list. Amazing wines that are well worth the search.
The 2003 Léoville-Poyferré was the winning bottle in the March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for 4 hours and served with steaks. As an added bonus my wife and I got to share this bottle with my life long best friend from college.
Château Léoville-Poyferré is in St.-Julien. The estate is a Second Growth Bordeaux. Along with Léoville-Las-Cases and Léoville-Barton, Léoville-Poyferré was part of a large estate in the Medoc owned by the Marquis de Léoville. After the French revolution the estate was divided and sold at public auction, where the portion that is now Château Léoville-Poyferré was bought by Monsieur Poyferré. Today the estate is owned and run by Didier Cuvelier and his family.
Crimson in color with slight bricking at the edge of the glass. 13.5% ABV. Fantastic nose of red fruits, leather, cigar box and licorice. Rich and polished with warm, silky tannins. Cherries, black currants, cassis and a touch of earth on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long and seamless. Stunning Bordeaux from a controversial vintage. I think it is clear that the top classified growths from 2003 have proven to be cellar worthy wines. The Léoville-Poyferré is probably best over the next 5-8 years.
My rating: 96 points.
Léoville-Poyferré is on a roll as of late. The 2009 and 2010 scored 100 points and 98 points respectively from the Wine Advocate. If you are interested in purchasing the wine I would suggest the 2014 vintage which is compellingly priced at right around $75.
Hartford Family Winery was founded in 1994 as a result of Don and Jennifer Hartford’s appreciation for the wines, the people, and the unique vineyards near their Russian River Valley home. Located in the Sonoma County town of Forestville, the winery is about 15 miles from the cool Pacific Coast. Jeff Stewart is the Hartford Family Winemaker.
Magenta in color. 15.5% ABV. Sensational nose of brambly red and black fruits, anise and freshly cracked black pepper. Full bodied with exquisite acidity. Rich, plush and seamless. Raspberry liqueur, black cherries, molten licorice and pepper on palate. The finish is sweet and exceptionally long. Absolutely glorious Zinfandel. Drink over the next 4-6 years.
My rating: 95 points.
The 2014 Hartford Family Zinfandel was the Number 10 Wine of the Year in the Wine Spectator Top 100. Having tried both the ’14 and ’15 I would contend the latter is a superior wine. Fairly priced at $40 per bottle. I’ll buy more when the opportunity arises.
Sandlands is the personal project of Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua. Tegan is the Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Turley. The line-up encompasses some of the forgotten classic California varieties, primarily grown in decomposed granite from regions and vineyards that have been farmed for many generations but have remained the outliers of California viticulture. The wines made at Sandlands include Syrah, Trousseau, Carignane, Mataro and Chenin Blanc.
The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Soberanes Vineyard which is farmed by the Pisoni family.
Purple in color. 13.2% ABV. Savory nose of blue fruits, olive brine, wild flowers and pepper. Medium to full bodied with perfect acidity. Fresh, complex and well structured. Blueberries, gamey meats, black pepper and olive tapenade on the palate. Tremendous length on the finish. Reminiscent of a Northern Rhone Syrah. Unique and extremely well crafted. Drink over the next 2-4 years.
My rating: 92 points.
Seriously consider signing up for the Sandlands mailing list. Tegan has a model of exceptional wines at extremely fair prices from impeccable vineyards. What more can you ask for?
The March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on wines from the 2003 vintage. 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.
We all know the background on the historically hot 2003 vintage in Europe. The wines are incredibly polarizing. From my experience, the top wines of the vintage are fruit forward and aging well. Heat was also an issue in Napa Valley. With all that being said the wines are now 15 years of age so we would all be well served to check in on them periodically.
2003 Léoville-Poyferré – The spectacular 2003 Leoville Poyferre exhibits a dense purple color with a touch of lightening at the edge as well as notes of creosote, barbecue smoke, jammy black currants, licorice and spice box. This intense, voluptuously textured, full-bodied St.-Julien possesses low acidity and ripe tannin. Still fresh and exuberant, it is just entering its plateau of full maturity where it should remain for 10-15+ years. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
2003 Antinori Tignanello – Antinori’s 2003 Tignanello (85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc) is a terrific effort. Typical Sangiovese notes of red cherries, tobacco and underbrush dominate the flavor profile of this intensely flavored Tignanello that manages to be ripe and open, while retaining notable balance and freshness, although the tannins dry out a bit on the back end. This is a delicious Tignanello to enjoy now and over the next decade. The high altitude of the vineyards was clearly an asset in 2003. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2018. 92 points from Vinous.
2003 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon – In 2003, production jumped up to 3,700 cases, with the blend identical to so many other vintages with 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc. This was a year where there was some freaky heat spells, but this wine has come through nicely. Deep bluish purple with notes of blackberry and cassis and charcoal followed by a soft, velvety textured, opulent and full-bodied wine that seems to be approaching full maturity. It is interesting, this wine is far more evolved, and on a faster evolutionary track than the 2001 or 2002. Nevertheless it is a beauty, loaded, layered and impressive. It must be one of the top 2003s. Drink it over the next 20-some years. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
Bedrock Wine Co. was founded by Morgan Twain-Peterson in 2007 and focuses on small production wines from many of California’ s most treasured and historic vineyards. The lineup of wines at Bedrock is expanding rapidly, but I think the best of the best are the ancient vineyard Zinfandels, Morgan is clearly passionate about.
Bedrock Vineyard, formerly known as Madrone Ranch, was first planted in 1854. Senator George Hearst purchased the property in 1888 and planted most of the vines that exist to this day. Located in the Sonoma Valley the vineyard is also a fruit source for Ravenswood and Carlisle.
Crimson in color. 14.6% ABV. Savory nose of red and black fruits, licorice, flowers and pepper. Medium body with exquisite acidity. Elegant, claret style Zinfandel. Black raspberry, blackberry, kirsch and spiced plums on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. Big Zinfandel that still manages to maintain a sense of freshness. This certainly seems to be the calling card of Morgan Twain-Peterson. Best over the next 2-4 years.
My rating: 93 points.
The mailing list at Bedrock is highly recommended. Exceptional wines, fair prices and great customer service. Put your name on the waiting list.