Zinfandel can be a rather curious grape variety. It is often uneven in its ripening, even to the point of having green berries and raisins on the same cluster. Another odd behavior that we often see in the bottled Montelena Zinfandel wines is the tendency for the wine to close down and not be as expressive during the winter (typically the first two winters after bottling). What is causing this? Who knows? Maybe the wine remembers slumbering as grapes in the cool Calistoga nights – one of the hallmarks of this growing region – and getting sleepy when the weather turns chilly… Or maybe it is purely psychosomatic, but either way, this wine will definitely benefit from a ‘wake-up’ decant while it is young.
The 2010 growing season was persistently cool – summer never really showed up – all the way until the third week of August when a scorcher of a heat wave moved through, causing a ton of sunburn throughout the North Coast where many growers had dramatically opened up their canopies in an effort to get some sun on the fruit and avoid mildew. Fortunately, because of how we farm Zinfandel and know its propensity to shrivel (it is a thin-skinned grape), we had not opened up the canopy and those big basal leaves were still there to provide protective shade. As a result, the fruit suffered no ill consequences. The cool season also provided for a lot of time on the vine and the great flavor development that comes with it.
This Zinfandel shows a bright, garnet red color with medium density. The nose is loaded with rich layers of spice, coconut, and brown sugar along with big fruit notes of plum, boysenberry, and hints of dried fruit as well. Beneath all that there is a rich but subtle earthliness reminiscent of hoisin. The palate opens smoothly with soft round tannins rolling across the tongue and a firm acid core, both working in harmony to establish the balance and structure of this wine. Ripe blackberry and bright strawberry flavors fill the mid-palate, all beautifully complemented by the nutty underlayer, and rounded out by the smoked meat notes on the finish.
Cameron Parry, Winemaker
Harvest Dates: September 28 to October 11
Barrel Aging: 14 months, 11% New
Bottling Dates: March 29 to April 2, 2012
Release Date: Spring 2013