Friday, October 5, 2018

Old-Style Zin From Dry Creek Valley

Field blend wines are those for which various different grape varieties are grown and harvested together, then cofermented.  19th century winemakers found it advantageous to blend the wine in the field, rather than use separate barrels for each grape variety.  Today's methods are more expensive, but more flexible   Everyone likes a little nostalgia, though - that's why Throwback Thursday originated. 

In Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley's grape history dates back to California's Gold Rush days. The valley is 16 miles long, two miles wide, and sustains 9,000 acres of vineyards.  Many of those old vines are still around today.  Talty Winery's vineyard was planted in 1963, but it was done in field blend style, as in the even older days.

Located in Healdsburg, Talty is a small production winery which produces around 1,300 cases of handcrafted Zinfandels.  Michael Talty's father William loved the Dry Creek Valley and wanted to start a winery there, a dream that was never realized.  Michael saw to it and named the six-acre estate in his honor.  The vines are head-pruned and dry-farmed in the heart of  "Zinfandel Country."  The Talty wines - all Zins - are aged a year in oak and a year in the bottle. 

The 2014 Talty Estate Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley is a field blend of 90% Zinfandel, 7% Petite Sirah and 3% Carignane.  The grapes are harvested and vinified as a blend, just like the wine pioneers of California did it.  787 cases were made, the wine hits 14.5% abv and it sells for $42, which is about where all the Talty wines fall.

The nose shows black cherries and currants surrounded by cedar, cinnamon and white pepper.  Flavor is plentiful, with those cherries again, bolstered by ripe cranberries and blackberries.  There's a leathery, sagebrush note that screams about the old west.  The rusticity plays well with the overriding elegance of the sip, and it all melts into a long, savory finish.

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