Selecting fruit for this Zinfandel program is a daunting task; the primary focus is harmony, with an emphasis on early drinkability and an elegant structure. The 2008 vintage continues to draw from an assortment of superb Zinfandel vineyards including the well-known Zinfandel growing region of Lodi (contributes 69% of the blend). Thirty miles nearby in Contra Costa County, we grow Zinfandel on low yielding, head-pruned vines in the unique sand soils of Oakley (28% of blend). The balance of the grapes are from selected vineyards throughout Sonoma and other parts of California.
To create this wine, we begin by entirely de-stemming and only lightly crushing the grapes to preserve fruit and limit harsh tannin extraction. Then, a moderately warm fermentation is conducted in closed stainless steel tanks using specific wine yeast. Wines are pressed once desired tannin levels are achieved, then free run and press wine is combined. By racking the wines two or even three times before setting them down to wood for eight months, we achieve early elegance without sacrificing bright fruit. We use 25% new French oak with a medium toast level.
As always the California Zinfandel is a challenging and rewarding wine to produce. Severe selection criteria and master blending show in the final product, which showcases a wide array of dark berry fruit including black cherry and raspberry. Additionally, spice notes and a lasting finish of vanilla from oak aging and firm, supple tannins add complexity to this wine. This wine is ready to drink now and will continue to develop complexity over the next three to four years.