Classic ruby with that stupid purple glow Zinfandel manages SOOO well! Ridiculous color! Quite thin pouring and in the glass–transparent and bright–but with a practically Grape Crush purple tinge. I like seeing Zinfandels this density, it tells me a lot about the wine to come. No lacking density in the nose, though, packing in rhubarb pie and blackberry alongside plentiful brier and oily petrichor.
Remember when Seghesio was $7.99? Well, I do. OK, maybe not THIS one, but the regular old Sonoma bottling. I remember when a LOT of Zinfandels were 10-12 bucks. Dry Creek Valley used to be the FRONTIER–hell, most of Sonoma was–with unknown growers trying their hands at producing in woven in between the stalwart–mostly italian–old-timers. I tasted Teldeschi’s first commercial wine. I tasted in the Lytton Springs mobile home when also tasting Ridge was a new option. I tasted way out at the end of a dirt road in the lab at Meeker–before the tee-pee was installed–with Stevie Ray Vaughan blasting and we had to wash our own glasses. And of course there were always the Seghesio’s, the Pedroncelli’s the Rafanelli’s and the Martinelli’s.
I’m not telling you all this to prove my knowledge with Dry Creek Valley wines, I am helping you understand I have seen Zinfandel evolve–and not just in Sonoma–from lowly rock-n-roll, California roots as vin de table, through hi-powered and hi-octane and hi-dollar concoctions eclipsing to almost undrinkable concentrated status in the mid-2000’s, and back down to today’s sense of place and balance and tabel-top agility. At least this is what I am seeing in many areas in California. Of course there are areas–I’m looking at YOU, Paso Robles–and numerous producers all over the state who have yet to get the *bigger-isn’t-better* baseball-bat to the skull and dial things down a bit.
Which brings us back to this bottle. I have a confession to make. As many of you know, I never never never ever look at alcohol levels printed on labels on ANY wine EVER before I taste it. First of all, they can be quite inaccurate but most importantly, it is entirely unfair to the wine to form any sort of opinion before it hits your tongue. Except Zinfandel. I break this rule with Zinfandel. Zinfandel ONLY. I always look at ABV before purchasing a Zin because I absolutely REFUSE to drink the 16…17…18% alcohol Zins! I can’t bring myself to do it! First of all they taste like SHIT, secondly you can’t ENJOY a glass or two, and three: you can’t pair them with any sort of meal. Which brings us back to this bottle! This lovely FOURTEEN-EIGHT Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. I’ve had PINOTS higher than that.
In the mouth, hold on–I want to smell this wine a bit more: this jammy brilliance but not “jammy” like people associate with Zinfandel and jam/jelly sweet concentration, no, a light, BRIGHT jamminess, blended with earth and rocks and hillsides of chaparral and manzanita. OK: In the mouth, black night velvet fog, launching tannic, acid-ridden bombs of fruit in all directions, green brier curling the edges. Chewy, powdery dust sparkles like glitter and California sunshine in the waterfall of lavish cherry fruit. Tannins perfectly balanced–nothing out of place.
This is NOT a Zinfandel bro-shirt will belly up to the tasting room bar and announce, “Wow! THIS is a monster!” No. This is not a monster. Monsters are not good, people. Not under your bed and not in your glass. This is a classic beautiful balanced DRINKABLE Zinfandel reflecting all that is wonderful about the variety and its California heritage. And one you can–and should–cellar for a decade.
2014 SEGHESIO Zinfandel Cortina Dry Creek Valley Sonoma Co. 14.8