Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Growing Old In Lodi: Harney Lane Winery Old Vine Zinfandel

"Old vine" is a phrase that gets bandied about quite a bit in California, sometimes with sketchy justification.  Thirty years?  Twenty?  Fifty?  There is no official standard for defining what constitutes and old vine, but if there were you'd have to think the grapes in this wine would qualify.

The source for the Zinfandel grapes that make up this Harney Lane Winery 2011 Old Vine Zin is the Lizzy James Vineyard in Lodi, CA.  It was planted in 1904, so "old vine" could not be a misnomer in anyone's estimation.  Old vines are said to give better grapes, due to the smaller berries and more developed root systems that allow better access to water.

The wine was included in a Twitter tasting a while back, which you can read about here.  Some thoughts from participants in that virtual tasting are included in this article.

This Zinfandel was just released in November 2013 and carries a hefty 15.9% alcohol content - that's getting up towards Port level.  It spent 22 months aging in French oak, and it wears it well.  443 cases were produced.  A bottle retails for $35.

Virtual tasters noted cinnamon and nutmeg traces, in advance of the holiday season.  "We're pairing the @HarneyLaneWine with Bourbon and Brown Sugar-Glazed Turkey," commented one tweeter.  Another mentioned how the "big ripe fruit balances the 15.9% abv.". It was characterized as a "hedonistic Zin, but has structure to balance out."

These notes are not far off the mark.  The oak does impart plenty of spice, especially on the palate, with a nose highlighted by sage accents on blackberry fruit.  The tannins have a pretty good bite, so you can pair it with the beefiest dishes without worry.  In fact, this wine is best when accompanying food due to its robust nature.


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