Showing posts with label Amador County. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amador County. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Zinfandel And 18 Months Of Oak

Bella Grace Vineyards is located in the Sierra Foothills region of Amador County.  Run by Michael and Charlie Havill, their vineyard sits on 20 acres in those granitic rolling hills.  The winery claims Michael is "one of the few elite female winemakers in California," while husband Charlie is credited with being the mastermind behind the vines.  The winery was named for their two grandmothers.

The Havills grow Primitivo, Zinfandel, Grenache, Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre, sustainably without pesticides, as well as three types of olives. 

Bella Grace grows four clones of Zinfandel in their estate block, vines which are eight to 16 years old.  The 2015 vintage was early, from bud break to harvest, but no unusual events were reported.  The Bella Grace Estate Zinfandel Amador County 2015 was a double gold award-winner in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. 

The wine spent 18 months in French oak barrels, a quarter of which were new.  The alcohol level sits at 14.2% abv and the wine sells for $34.

This Zinfandel sports a nose of blackberries and plums, laced with a generous helping of clove, nutmeg, cigar box, smoke and vanilla.  Eighteen months in oak is a long time.  A peppery note lies underneath and carries through, more prominently, on the palate. Flavors of dark fruit mix with herbs and spices for a delightful sip.  The tannins are fairly forceful and the finish plays long and dark. 


Friday, July 12, 2019

Grandma's Red Wine

Bella Grace Vineyards is located in the Sierra Foothills region of California's Amador County.  Run by Michael and Charlie Havill, their vineyard sits on 20 acres in those granitic rolling hills.  The winery says Michael is "one of the few elite female winemakers in California," while husband Charlie is credited with being the mastermind behind the vines.  The winery was named for their two grandmothers.

The Havills grow Primitivo, Zinfandel, Grenache, Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre sustainably without pesticides, as well as three types of olives. 

Bella Grace Bella's Red Wine, Amador County 2015

The 2015 Bella's Red Wine blends 41% Barbera grapes with 38% Zinfandel, 13% Grenache, 5% Syrah and 3% Petite Sirah.  Aging took place over a year and a half in Frenck oak barrels, but only a fifth of them were new.  Alcohol tips 14.4% abv and the wine retails for $20.

Let it open up, and you are rewarded with a nose of cherry, leather, tobacco and clove.  The palate offers black cherry, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice.  It's a real showstopper, a tough thing to find at the price point.  It paired beautifully with roasted rosemary chicken.


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Friday, May 24, 2019

Oak Hampers Amador Barbera

Bella Grace Vineyards is located in the Sierra Foothills region of Amador County.  Run by Michael and Charlie Havill, their vineyard sits on 20 acres in those granitic rolling hills.  The winery says Michael is "one of the few elite female winemakers in California," while husband Charlie is credited with being the mastermind behind the vines.  The winery was named for their two grandmothers.

The Havills grow Primitivo, Zinfandel, Grenache, Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre, sustainably without pesticides, as well as three types of olives.

The 2016 Bella Grace Amador County Barbera was made using grapes from five different vineyards: Cooper, Baartman, Crain-Sleeper and Wilderotter vineyards in the Shenandoah Valley appellation, and Shake Ridge Vineyards elsewhere in Amador County.  The wine was aged for 21 months in new French oak barrels.  Alcohol hits 14.5% abv and sells for $33.

This wine comes on with a bit too much oak for me.  Bright cherries and spice on the nose are obscured by the wood effect, but it's not so pronounced on the palate.  There's great fruit here when it shines through.  Firm tannins beg for meat.  Sausages?  Bolognese sauce?


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Monday, April 8, 2019

Amador County Zinfandel

Bella Grace Vineyards is located in the Sierra Foothills region of Amador County.  Run by Michael and Charlie Havill, their vineyard sits on 20 acres in those granitic rolling hills.  The winery says Michael is "one of the few elite female winemakers in California," while husband Charlie is credited with being the mastermind behind the vines.  The winery was named for their two grandmothers.

The Havills grow Primitivo, Zinfandel, Grenache, Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre, sustainably without pesticides, as well as three types of olives.  Nearly seven acres of the estate are devoted to four different clones of Zinfandel grapes.  This one is not an estate wine, but the 100% Zinfandel grapes all hail from Amador County.  It rings the alcohol bell at 14.2% abv.  It's a Double Gold winner in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The 2016 Bella Grace Zinfandel is dark garnet in color and smells of blackberry, plum, slight cranberry and a healthy dose of bramble, with a layer of sweetness as counterpoint.  On the palate, deeper dark fruit and raspberry comes across in a rustic fashion with a zing of oak.  The wine drinks smoothly, with fine tannins and a medium mouthfeel.  Earthy, dark fruit lingers on the finish.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cal-Italia Wine: Barbera From The Sierra Foothills

We'll touch again on Bella Grace Vineyards, located in the Sierra Foothills in Amador County.  The family-run business produces wine from 12 grape varieties harvested there, and they also have three types of olives growing on the estate.  One of those grapes is the Italian variety, Barbera.

I like the expression that the Cal-Italia grapes give in other California regions, so I was anxious to try the terroir of Amador County.  Both wines were made available to me for the purpose of this article.


Bella Grace Montagnaro Amador County 2013

This half and half blend of Barbera - sourced from several vineyards in Amador County - and their estate Zinfandel - was made in very limited quantity, just 360 cases, and it retails at $23 per bottle. The 14.5% abv alcohol number looks ripe and ready. And so it is.

A nose of red berries, mocha, licorice and pepper lead to a tempting palate of bright red cherries, chocolate and an earthy cloak in which it tries to hide. This wine cannot conceal itself, though. It’s bright and playful while remaining sincere and balanced.


Bella Grace Barbera Amador County 2013

Several vineyards in Amador County contributed to this varietal wine.  The alcohol is again a rich 14.6% abv and it has a $30 price tag. 860 cases were made.

The wine has a rustic nose that bears a bit of tar, a bit of bramble and a bit of spearmint. The oak on the palate is sweet and tasty with generous red fruit and holiday spices. The tannins grip enough, but not too hard. The finish carries some rosemary to a lengthy end. Roasted chicken and potatoes, with the potatoes burnt just a bit is what you want with this.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Amador County Zinfandel Wine

Bella Grace Vineyards is located in the Sierra Foothills region of Amador County, and has tasting locations in the Shenandoah Valley and Sutter Creek.  The latter is situated in a restored, Victorian-era cottage that fits right in with the historic feel of the town. The family-run business produces wine from 12 grape varieties harvested there, and they also have three types of olives growing on the estate.

The ten-year-old winery is powered completely by solar energy and has been collecting awards since its first releases.  Bella Grace is one of nine producers on the Steiner Road wine trail.  Owned by husband-and-wife vintners Michael and Charlie Havill, the operation takes its name from their two grandmothers, Bella and Grace.

Nearly seven acres of the estate are devoted to four different clones of sustainably-farmed Zinfandel grapes.

2013 Estate Amador County Zinfandel

The 2013 Estate Amador County Zinfandel brings an alcohol level of 14.3% abv to the table and retails for $20. The winery describes it as a "young, assertive Zinfandel," that has great aging potential over the next few years.  It’s one of those award winners we heard about earlier.

This wine is a treat. The bright, zippy cherry fruit on the first night turns into darker and more savory stuff on the second, and I love when that happens. The nose is fruity enough, but it does show the minerality nicely along with smoke, leather and cigars. The palate is dark and beefy with some spiciness coming through. The tannins are healthy, but they don't get in the way of the sip.


2013 Old Vine Zinfandel Amador County

Dry farmed in Crain Sleeper Vineyard, a "heritage vineyard" in Shenandoah Valley, this 100% Zinfandel hits 14.5% abv in alcohol and rings up at 30 in American dollars. The grapes were grown and managed by Bob and Carol Sleeper, descendants of one of the original families to settle in California's Shenandoah Valley in the early 1850's. The old vines we have here were planted in the early 1970s, and yes, that makes me feel old, too. The early 1970s were great for music and movies, and apparently for Zinfandel grapes, as well.

The wine is earthy, spicy and deep. It has a dark ruby color, a nose of holiday spices and cherries with minerals all over the place. In the mouth, it's juicy and ripe and full of red fruit with those minerals riding herd over the components. The finish is lengthy and the tannins chewy.


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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Scott Harvey Zinfandel Mountain Selection 2011

Scott Harvey makes wines that go great with Thanksgiving dinner.  That's the opinion of Sunset magazine, anyway, who named his 2010 Mountain Selection Zinfandel "the Perfect Zin to pair with a pungent, spicy, fruity Thanksgiving dinner."  It also goes great with dinner the other 364 days of the year.  Add one for leap year.

Harvey has recently released new vintages of three of his Zin's, including the Mountain Selection.  Samples of these wines were sent to me - read about Vineyard 1869 here - and I wish I had received them in time for Thanksgiving dinner.  I had a Hickory Farms Spicy and Savory Beef Summer Sausage for Thanksgiving dinner, and it would have gone great with that.  All spicy and savory and all.

Scott Harvey Zinfandel Mountain Selection 2011 is made with Zinfandel grapes harvested from Shenandoah Valley in Amador County, Syrah from York Vineyard in Fiddletown and Barbera from Golden Vineyard.  It's 88% Zin, 7% Syrah and 5% Barbera.  The alcohol content is not unreasonable, by the standard of the region - 14.5%.  19 months aging in French oak left its mark on the grapes grown in the granite soils of Amador County.

The 2011 vintage in Napa Valley has been cursed by some as too cold, praised by others as just right.  Harvey is in the Goldilocks camp.  "I have always said that when Napa has a cold vintage, Amador has a great vintage."

The wine is dark-colored with a full nose of earthy red fruit getting a spice rack of help from aromas of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.  The acidity is wonderful and the tannic structure is firm.  It's a very food-friendly wine, but it tastes great on its own.  Big black cherry and raspberry flavors are caressed by oak spices.  The finish is long and memorable, with clove and cassis notes the last to leave.


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Monday, December 23, 2013

Scott Harvey Winery Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel

When people ask me the name of my website, and I answer "Now And Zin," they either think I said "Zen" or expect that all I write about is Zinfandel.  There's hardly a lick of Buddhism here and, while I do make the occasional pass at Zinfandel, it is most certainly not the be-all or the end-all of my interest in wine.

As luck would have it, a shipment came to me from Scott Harvey Winery in St. Helena, CA.  They do Zinfandel there, and they do it very well.

The Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel 2010 is billed as America's oldest Zinfandel.  95% of the grapes come from the Harvey Vineyard in Amador County, planted in 1869.  The other five percent are Petite Sirah grapes from the David Fulton Vineyard in Napa Valley.  The Harvey Vineyard survived both phylloxera and Prohibition to last to its ripe old age of 144 years.

The wine has an alcohol content of 14.5% abv, which is pretty reasonable for a warm climate wine from California.  It spent 29 months aging in French oak.

This wine is colored a light, medium ruby in the glass, a little more like Pinot Noir than Zinfandel.  Aromas of brambly raspberry-tinged blackberry are laced with purple floral notes and a minty herbal quality.  Quite expressive.  On the palate it's as smooth as can be, but the tannins are strong enough to handle whatever it is paired with them.  A brambly essence also rides herd over flavors of blackberry, black cherry and a hint of black currant.  Despite the brambly quality - it always makes me think "rustic" - this wine is extremely elegant.  The 1869 Zin is quite dry, and it goes very well with cheese tortellini under a marinara sauce.


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