Elegant Zinfandel

The Russian River is known best around the world as the home of great New World Pinot Noir. But we can’t count out the Zin. There are old vineyards delivering concentrated flavors and wines that can be known for their elegance and acidity, descriptors that don’t always come up in the roster of Zin notes. This flight features 4 wines from the Russian River from 2004 and 2005.

Limerick Lane Russian River Collins Vineyard Estate Bottled Zinfandel 2004
Smells of red fruits, earth and sweet oak. The mouth is elegant as this is not the over-the-top style. Rather it is a Zin that embraces its acidity. The fruit is sourced from the winery’s estate vineyard named for owner Mike Collins. The wine is made by Ross Battersby, aged in French and Hungarian oak for 12 months, 20% of the barrels are new. The wine is unfined and unfiltered. GP&B in Healdsburg 14.6% $26 at Traverso’s Limerick Lane

Balletto Russian River Sonoma County Estate Bottled Zinfandel 2005
There’s lots of bright berry fruit and a little bit of dill. The mouth reflects the berry fruit, a touch of tannin and balancing acidity. The Ballettos have farmed in Sonoma County for many years. Their transition into wine has given consumers good values across the board. This Zinfandel was guided by winemaker Dan Cederquist and aged for 10 months in US oak. P&B by Laguna Oaks Vineyards and Winery Santa Rosa 14.2% $16.99 at Traverso’s Balletto

Gamba Russian River Estate Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel 2005
Ink is the operative word when looking at this very jammy, raisiny fruit, sweet-appearing Zin. The mouth is very soft and luscious. This wine comes from an organically farmed vineyard planted in 1900. P&B Sonoma 15.9% $40 at Traverso’s Gamba

Hartford Russian River Jolene’s Vineyard Zinfandel 2005
Almost inky as well, there are many sweet smells in this wine, like caramel, oak and jammy fruit. There’s quite a bit of acidity, some tannin and a hint of the alcohol underneath. Hartford has been delighting us for years with their very old vine Zins produced in Forestville. Jolene’s Vineyard is named for the owners Joanne and Arlene. Most of the vines are past the century mark. The wine spent 10 months in French oak, 45% of it new. P&B Forestville 15.8% $51 at Traverso’s Hartford

About RJ

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
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