Dragon Breath

Have you ever had ‘green wine’? If you’ve ever been on a crush-pad during press–even as an innocent bystander–you’ve probably had a filthy, stained glass of lee-swirled red liquid thrust at you by a beaming winemaker or intern. Some people really dig it–I’ve seen winemakers chug the stuff–and there are definitely aspects of the finished wine predictable from sampling it at this term of its life. I have never been a fan of actually DRINKING it, but there are glorious nuances to it: mostly the smell: green, vicious vibrancy you never forget, the patina of yeast, and also an experience with *fruit* so pure, so sharp, so harshly raw and ALIVE. This wine smells exactly like ‘green wine’. I am not suggesting this is a harsh, unfinished wine, but the nose is unmistakable. Seedy, stemmy, watermelon rind and bright cheery berry–an amazing first blast–but here built on layers of light earth and leathery density. Dark, clear purple with a light rim of ruby, it IS Zinfandel, but don’t get bogged down in fantasies of Lodi or Paso or let the “Old Vine” sway you towards tired burly jam & vodka.

Tasting it erases any fears of it being an *unfinished* wine or even a swirly “natural” concoction. By now, the nose has settled down a bit, bringing far more neutral-barrel aging to the forefront–and with it leather and tobacco. The cherry is black–not pie-sharp or pomegranate–but there’s an ethereal lightness to the concentration balancing it fore and aft. It is clean and delicious, nascent excitement bubbling about, acid tied PERFECTLY into the briar and fruit and it continues solidly into a finish more bitter berry than tannic. For someone who grew up with the Zins of the 70’s and 80’s and into the early 90’s (yeah, they were, like SEVEN DOLLARS then), this is absolute NECTAR. I’m going to guess WELL under 14% alcohol, *possibly* some carbonic. No one will ever suggest Zinfandel as a summertime red–and I am not suggesting it be reduced to slightly-chilled quaffer–but man oh man is this a gorgeous young wine. Turning the label around on these is always the exciting part:

2019 DEUX PUNX ‘Old Vine’ Zinfandel Contra Costa County California 13.3


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