Chronicle Zinfandels 2006

Chronicle at ZAPProprietor Mike Hengehold was on hand at ZAP today in San Francisco to showcase his Zin portfolio. He is sourcing fruit from vines that were planted in the Russian River long before I was born. The fruit hangs well into October yet achieves sugars of only 24 brix.

Why not higher? Well life can move slowly in Sonoma’s West County, a fact enjoyed by residents as well as grapevines. The result is wine with a sense of balance and Zins that aren’t hammering your face with direct jabs of alcohol. Notice the alcohol levels on these wines as they don’t creep above what has become the Zin norm of busting beyond 15%.

zin_vineyards_mapChronicle, Russian River Valley, Old Vines, Zinfandel 2006 The nose features red fruit, think strawberries and cherries. In the mouth the fruit is framed by ample acidity and great length. The fruit is sourced from the Gaddis, Bacigalupi and Gambogi Vineyards on Piner Road. Cellared and bottled in Graton 14.7% $28 retail, a media sample.

Chronicle, Russian River Valley, Bacigalupi Vineyard, Zinfandel 2006bacigalupi The nose amps up in sweetness and adds the spiciness of black pepper. In the mouth the concentration is intensified, ripe yet balanced, with structure supporting the fruit.  The wine was aged for 16 months in oak, 30% of it new from the US. Cellared and bottled in Graton 14.5% $36 retail, a media sample.

I’ve often said that Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley is unfairly overlooked. Two factors contribute: there are superb Zins from other regions whose branding has been all about Zin and big brother Pinot Noir steals most of the press in the Russian River. These wines remind us to give Zin a chance from the Russian River appellation.

Proprietor Mike Hengehold, Winemaker Ted Lemon Chronicle Wines

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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