2016 Jessie’s Grove Ancient Vines Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Jessie’s Grove
“Jessie is a friend
Yeah, I know he’s been a good friend of mine
But lately something’s changed that ain’t hard to define
Jessie’s got himself a wine and I want to make it mine”
This wine, like certain song lyrics, will stick with you long, long after tasting it. Maybe it’s the 132-year-old vines. Or Greg La Follette’s winemaking wizardry. Or the small balance of extraordinarily rare varietals like Flame Tokay and Black Prince.
Whatever it is, we’re here for it.
For us, the highest expression of Zinfandel comes from Turley, Ridge, Ravenswood, Beekeeper… and now, we’re adding Alquamista Cellars to the list. Spanish for “alchemist”, this seems like a wine only Greg La Follette, the flute playing, bagpipe blowing winemaking genius could make. He’s an absolute MASTER in the highest sense of the word. For years he specialized in Pinot, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel, spearheading Flowers, Hartford, and DeLoach and his eponymous La Follette label.
A protégé of André Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu, he collaborated with (and in many cases mentored) some of the greatest minds in winemaking including John Kongsgaard, Paul Hobbs, Dick Graff, Jess Jackson, Andy Peay, Hugh Chappell, and Ross Cobb, to name a few. As Robert Parker once attested, “Greg La Follette was one of the pioneers of the Sonoma Coast and he deserves enormous credit for sourcing potentially brilliant vineyard sites throughout the area.” He is famous as a true “vineyard whisperer” bringing out once hidden gems like Sangiacomo, Lorenzo, Ritchie, Silver Pines, and Jessie’s Grove into the limelight. Today, the humble winemaker focuses all his effort on the smallest of batches at Alquamista.
By now we know Lodi is ground zero for some of the world’s finest expressions of Zinfandel, and Jessie’s Vineyard is a mythical place, planted in 1888(!) and home to massive, gnarled, dry-farmed old vines with 30’ deep roots in sandy soil. It’s the kind of place that yields mind-blowing, exotic, museum quality Zinfandel. While Zinfandel makes up 82% of the wine, the balance includes Carignane, Flame Tokay, Mission and Black Prince. The last one is extremely rare, basically unheard of.
Together they add a special something that’s not found in any Zin we’ve tasted recently. Fantastic aromas and flavors show the traditional full throttle jamminess with loads of blueberry / raspberry fruit on the side and a fascinating mix of white peach, tropical flowers and broad spice notes.
Zero press on this vintage, and only 3 barrels made, so we got barely enough for an offer. But this is one we could not refuse.
Anyone into the finest of Zinfandels needs to experience this.
Purple on the rim with a black core and a bright deep cherry hue within
Mind-blowing, exotic, museum quality Zinfandel aromatics, and then some
Traditional full throttle jamminess with loads of blueberry / raspberry fruit on the side
A fascinating mix of white peach, tropical flowers and broad spice notes
Anything grilled, smoked, or roasted really, even mildly hot spices are welcome too
What the Winery Says
- Greg LaFolette
- 82% Zinfandel, 18% Carignane, Malvasia Bianca, Mission, Black Prince, Flame Tokay
- Lodi, San Joaquin County
- Jessie’s Grove
- Vineyard age
- 132 years
- Sandy silt
- Total acidity
- 6.01 g/L
- Residual Sugar
- 11 months
- Neutral French & American oak
- Label artwork
- Carole Ray Watanabe
- 2 barrels