Pretty sure this is the blackest, densest, most impenetrable red wine I have ever had in a glass. Just absolute MIDNIGHT black with a sliver of purple at the rim. Closed-in, slightly vegetal and acidic nose, robust blackberry dense in the wee background. Decanted heavily. With air, wet newsprint of an almost cider-y tint expresses, a lecithin yeasty nuance more akin to whites than concentrated reds. Coaxing much more of a bouquet out of it fails to happen, but perhaps in several hours or even tomorrow it will be different. This early-ripening Austrian cross-breed is fairly rare on US shelves–even from its native country–and seeing it popping up on this tiny producer’s mostly-CA-heritage-variety roster is even cooler. And, from Lodi to boot!
Considerably more expressive on the palate than the nose, but still lacking fleshy exuberance. Entering dense and rich, a spire of acid penetrates throughout, kept in check by obfuscatingly grainy berry ridiculously ripe but nowhere NEAR slutty. Sharp pangs of grapefruit pith and meat process the fruit perfectly, gently fading into the finish where–surprisingly–the kind of tannin you expect fails to materialize. It lays down bright and vegetal all across the palate, a sweet core providing welcome luxury to the abrasive entry and bitter, drying finish.
I know a fair number of people reading this will think, “That sounds horrible!” but actually, it works. I love this wine. It is an energetic tour de force. I want to taste it in 5 years, as it reminds me somewhat of old-school Petite Sirah or even Cornas: basically un-approachable in youth and polishing for decades into loveliness. I would suggest putting a fair number of these in your cellar.
2020 SABELLI-FRISCH Zweigelt Mokelumne River AVA California 12.0