Showing posts with label old vine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label old vine. Show all posts

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.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Growing Old In Lodi: Harney Lane Winery Old Vine Zinfandel

"Old vine" is a phrase that gets bandied about quite a bit in California, sometimes with sketchy justification.  Thirty years?  Twenty?  Fifty?  There is no official standard for defining what constitutes and old vine, but if there were you'd have to think the grapes in this wine would qualify.

The source for the Zinfandel grapes that make up this Harney Lane Winery 2011 Old Vine Zin is the Lizzy James Vineyard in Lodi, CA.  It was planted in 1904, so "old vine" could not be a misnomer in anyone's estimation.  Old vines are said to give better grapes, due to the smaller berries and more developed root systems that allow better access to water.

The wine was included in a Twitter tasting a while back, which you can read about here.  Some thoughts from participants in that virtual tasting are included in this article.

This Zinfandel was just released in November 2013 and carries a hefty 15.9% alcohol content - that's getting up towards Port level.  It spent 22 months aging in French oak, and it wears it well.  443 cases were produced.  A bottle retails for $35.

Virtual tasters noted cinnamon and nutmeg traces, in advance of the holiday season.  "We're pairing the @HarneyLaneWine with Bourbon and Brown Sugar-Glazed Turkey," commented one tweeter.  Another mentioned how the "big ripe fruit balances the 15.9% abv.". It was characterized as a "hedonistic Zin, but has structure to balance out."

These notes are not far off the mark.  The oak does impart plenty of spice, especially on the palate, with a nose highlighted by sage accents on blackberry fruit.  The tannins have a pretty good bite, so you can pair it with the beefiest dishes without worry.  In fact, this wine is best when accompanying food due to its robust nature.

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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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Friday, August 20, 2010


Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel

Bogle Vineyards makes some pretty good wine and sells it at a pretty reasonable price.  I've been impressed with their Petite Sirah before, and now I'm diggin' their Zin.

While the PS was a fairly dark and intense wine, the Zinfandel goes the other way, over to the “bright” end of the spectrum.  It reminds me of Zin's cousin, Primitivo, in its brightness and freshness.  It even works when chilled a bit.

The Clarksburg, CA winery puts wording on the label of this old vine Zin which leads one to believe the vines are 100+ years old, but the winemaker notes say 45-80 year vines from Lodi and Amador County are used.  The alcohol content is on the high side and the wine spends ten months in American oak.

The medium red color is tinged purple around the edge.  It's not terribly dark.  The nose on this old vine Zin is fairly uncomplicated.  Big, jammy blackberry and black cherry are predominant, and it's not shy about showing itself.

On the palate, a lively mouthful of blackberry, raspberry, black pepper and clove mix it up deliciously.  Despite the age of the vines, this wine tastes youthful and brash, but after only a few minutes in the glass, it opens up and smooths out.  At 14.8% abv, it's a big wine, but the alcohol does not overpower the flavors.  A medium mouthfeel gives an almost refreshing feeling, while the finish leaves a big hint of spice behind.