Monday, February 23, 2015

Paso Robles Terroir On Display In Ancient Peaks Zinfandel

The folks at Ancient Peaks Winery talk a lot about what unique terroir they have at their Margarita Vineyard.  All that talk about dirt is not just a lot of air, either.  The estate vineyard sports five different soil types, from ancient oyster beds to the remainder of ancient volcanos.  Indeed, they sit in the shadow of those ancient peaks.  They boast that the "Santa Margarita Ranch AVA is situated along the foot of the coastal Santa Lucia Mountain Range, roughly 25 miles southeast of the city of Paso Robles and just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the west."  Oh, yeah, that's another claim they now have: "Our estate Margarita Vineyard now enjoys the rare distinction of being the only vineyard located within its own namesake AVA."  Well, isn't that special!  Yes, in fact, it is.

The 2012  Ancient Peaks Zinfandel blends fruit grown in three of those five distinct soil types.  As described by the winery, grapes from the volcanic soil of Block 32 provides a varietal spiciness to the wine, while fruit grown in the shale of Block 49 kicks in some dark fruitiness. From the gravelly soils of Block 39 come the wine's backbone.  91% of the grapes are Zinfandel, while 9% are Petite Sirah.

The individual lots were fermented and placed in oak barrels, 40% French and 60% American, of which 20% were new.  Aging took place over 17 months, so there is plenty of oakiness here..  6,072 cases were produced.

Medium ruby coloring decorates the wine visually.  Aromas of cherries - bright and ripe - lead the nose, with raspberry, vanilla, pepper and hot chocolate adding complexity.  Cherry plays on the palate, too, with blackberry, oak spice, black pepper, mocha, a little black tea in supporting roles.

There is a really great mineral streak here - no big surprise considering the array of rocks and shells apparent in the vineyard.  Juicy acidity and firm tannins make it a great wine to pair with a grilled burger.  It works well with a bit of a chill on it, but the flavors really open up as it warms.  Dessert fans should note that it's awesome with dark chocolate.

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