Owned by Ken and Diane Wilson, the winery's 14-acres are called Briar Ranch, and the Briar Vineyard gives up the grapes for single-vineyard Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The property is located on a saddle between the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys, a dusty part of Sonoma County that has always made me think of swinging saloon doors.
Winemaker Antoine Favarro says, "it's the fruit," which is a lot more humble than saying, "it's all about me." The wine spent 18 months in French oak barrels, but didn't end up wiped out by wood.
Fewer than 600 cases of the Briar Zinfandel were produced, and after looking at their website, it appears the 2015 vintage may be sold out. The 2016 Briar sells for $29. So does the 2016 Aguilera Vineyard Zin. Grand Reserves from the Maple and Rockpile vineyards go for $100 bucks a pop.
This Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is extremely dark with a deep, rich nose. Aromas of blueberry, black cherry and currant come forcefully, with delightful black pepper, vanilla and smoke on top. That touch of briar is there, too. The palate has a distinctly savory side - sage, rosemary, white pepper - and the fruit is all dark and smoky. Tannins hit a sweet spot and will prove useful without getting in the way. The sip is smooth and delicious, as the best Zinfandels usually are.