Thursday, May 17, 2007

Seghesio "Old Vine" Zinfandel Sonoma County 2003 $30

Tonight with dinner Lisa and I opened a bottle of Seghesio “Old Vine” Zinfandel from the 2003 vintage ($26-35 – we paid $27). We had planned to have BBQ ribs and pulled pork for dinner and thought what better style wine than Zinfandel to go with dinner. Red Zinfandel (not the pink stuff) pairs well with BBQ foods because the acidity in the wine pairs well with the vinegar base in the marinade and sauces of BBQ food. The tannins match up with the meat and the spicy fruit matches perfectly with the overall heat and spiciness of the food.

The “Old Vine” was great right out of the bottle and did not need any decanting. The nose was full of licorice, cherry, spicy oak and a subtle hint of flowers (violets). On the palate the wine explodes with spicy blackberry, raspberry, and black cherry. The fruit mingles nicely with the oak from the barrels the wine was aged in before bottling, lending structure (tannin) and spiciness to the wine. Overall it was well balanced, albeit on a high level with vibrant acidity, noticeable tannins, and ample fruit. There is an abundance of alcohol at 15.2%, but surprisingly without the heat.

The Seghesio story starts when Edoardo moved to Sonoma from the Piedmont region of Italy in the late 1800’s. Rich in tradition, Edoardo took with him his heritage and knowledge of growing grapes and making wine to California. He started a family and settled in the Dry Creek Valley just west of Healdsburg. Four generations later, the Seghesio family still runs one of the most successful and longest running wineries in California. They make a variety of excellent and well received Red Zinfandels, as well as other Italian varietals such as Sangiovese (Chianti), Arneis, Barbera, and Pinot Grigio. A few times a year I will have the entry level Zinfandel, the Sonoma County bottling ($15-20) and is one of my favorite go to Zinfandels. The Cortina is another of their bottlings I have had and is also excellent. It’s great to know that of the 5 Red Zinfandels they make, they are all distinctly different.

The oldest of these “Old Vines” were planted in 1895 and together average 90 years in age. The Seghesio family owns many of the oldest vines in California. Old vines bear less fruit than your average 10-20 year old vine. But, with that age you get more complex and distinct fruit than the younger vines can produce. This is because all of the nutrients are focused to fewer grape bunches, thus concentrating the flavors and characteristics into those fewer grape bunches. Old vine Zinfandels are not too common but can be found with a little effort.


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