Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel: Harney Lane

Old vines are appreciated the most in Zinfandel vineyards.  California's heritage grape has been growing nonstop in Lodi for more than a century, and the older the vines are, the more character the wine has. It's what makes Zinfandel a popular favorite in the Golden State.  Besides, how you gonna keep 'em drinking Merlot once they've had a taste of old vine Zin?

A recent virtual tasting of old vine Zinfandel wines from the Lodi region featured three people who are delightfully nerdy (watch) and incredibly passionate about their Zinfandel.  The online session was held on National Zinfandel Day and led by Stuart Spencer, of St. Amant Winery and the Lodi Winegrape Association.  He was joined by Kyle Lerner of Harney Lane Winery and Kevin Phillips of Michael-David Vineyards.  They focus on Zinfandel with a love not just of the grapes and the wine, but of the character and history of the vineyards and those who planted them so long ago.

Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel 2014

Lerner says Zinfandel is "all about the fruit," so it’s okay that his wines sell out before they're quite ready. Age them if you want to, or enjoy them now.  The grapes for the Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel 2014 came from the Lizzie James Vineyard, a plot of grapevines that was planted in 1904.  The wine is a dry-as-a-bone award-winner that spent 21 months aging in French oak barrels and hits a heady 15.7% abv.  It retails for $36.

This Zinfandel, from vines planted in 1904, is forest-dark with brambly, black fruit and tons of supporting characters.  The nose emits all that you may dream would accompany a wine made from 114-year-old vines.  There is spice, there is tobacco, there is tar; cinnamon, mocha.  Leather, dirt and oil also appear.  The palate is similarly dark, but surprisingly youthful and perfumed.  The acidity rips, the tannins roar and the wine does its duty on marbled beef.