2008 Old Vine Zinfandel
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
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Mission Codename: Better Still
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Miro Cellars and return with the next release of Miro’s much loved Russian River Valley Zinfandel.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Miro Cellars
Wine Subject: 2008 Alexander Valley Old Vines Zinfandel
Winemaker: Miro Tcholakov
Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. The Russian River Valley, where this Zinfandel’s grapes are are grown are characterized by their balanced flavors, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives.
Today’s wine comes to us from the Alexander Valley. Zinfandels from this Norther Sonoma County region are are characterized by their big, extracted flavors, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Burgundy-hued, with a clear but deep and darkening heart of dark purple. A fine ruby edge highlights the wine around the edge of the glass. After swirling, thin legs start high on the glass, and then move swiftly downward.
Smell – Candied spiced cherry rush up to greet the nose. This deep and aromatic feature combines bright red cherry, with soft spice of cinnamon, clove and black pepper. Additional fruits of blackberry and blueberry are accompanied by raspberry, subtle tomato stem, soft leather, black fig and the subtlest hint of smoked meats.
Feel – This wine feels very wide on entry, giving the impression that you can feel it beyond the boundaries of your palate. After a moment, it becomes quickly grippy, beginning at the tip of the tongue and working its way backward, drying the lips and cheeks as a flinty minerality appears with the soft spice from the nose and palate.
Taste – Big and bold and jammy, with sweet black fruit and softly tangy red fruit. Leading with bold blackberry, overripe blueberry, then quickly revealing young strawberry, dark raspberry and red currant. Spices of cinnamon and clove round out the wine, with a flinty minerality that comes at the end, along with smoky cherry.
Finish – This wine finishes lush and bold, with flavors that tail off very slowly. As flavors fade, you are left with a mouth-coated feel that makes the mouth water as you recall bold flavors and the unique feel.
Conclusion – This is a terrific Zinfandel that had me wondering, Why can’t more California Zins be as multi-dimensional and delicious?! Miro, or Agent KGB as we now call him, has become a hero of sorts to us Wine Spies. We have been consistently delighted with the style and quality of his wines. Today’s 2008 Zinfandel reinforces our love of his excellent skills as a winemaker. This wine is big and bold, but it has great poise. It delivers big flavors and a unique feel, but it never overpowers. Even though young, this wine is ready to drink now. We can’t wait to see how our cellared bottles taste in a few years!
MIRO INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Miro Tcholakov
DATE OF BIRTH: February 4, 1966
PLACE OF BIRTH: Trojan, Bulgaria
WINE EDUCATION: Higher Institute of Agriculture, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, UC Davis, SRJC
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Dry Creek Vineyards-1990-1999 as Assistant Winemaker/Cellar Master, Trentadue Winery-1999-present-Winemaker/VP of Production, Miro Cellars-2001-present. Also consulted and continue to consult for a few other small projects domestically and abroad. Currently serving on the Board of Directors for ZAP and “PS I Love you” organizations
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Freedom of Expression”- meaning for Miro wines I source only vineyards that are interesting to me in regard of geology, soil types, location, grape growing styles, grape grower…etc. Not being confined to an “Estate” vineyard gives me the freedom of choice. If the vineyard does not deliver I move on. Great wines can be made without blue blooded heritage and a Chateau in the foreground.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: So far I made my mark with Petite sirah for the Miro brand, with my other jobs I have done very well with other varieties and blends. In general I’m very fond of perhaps the only two varieties that California has claim to fame as truly “heritage” –P. Sirah and Zinfandel. My Petite has done well with the gate keepers and media so far.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Well I’m not sure what do you consider Highlight but if you mean wine scores I have a few 90 points and above from Wine Enthusiast, Parker, Wine Spectator, Connoisseur Guide, California Grapevine, top picks in New York Times, USA Today, and hundreds of Gold medals and Best of Class and a few Sweepstakes from wine competitions that matter.
I have met and tasted my wines one on one with Michelle Rolland (without paying for it) if that is considered an event but I found that to be very interesting. I have been on the pages of few wine publications. Once Dan Burger put me on the top 20 winemakers in the country…
There is probably more that I don’t remember…
MIRO QUOTE: Just drink it-it is only wine!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Miro. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MIRO TCHOLAKOV: A pleasure. My ’06 has become very popular and your Operatives are going to see the last of it.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MIRO: I don’t think that there was any specific event-wine has always been part of our life back in Bulgaria. We made every year about 1000 liters and manage to drink most of it before the next harvest. Wine has always been part of the life circle, just like making cheese or jam or tomato sauces. We also made grappa every year. My grandfather Mariano was the initial inspiration and the first hand source of winemaking knowledge.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
MIRO: The real winemaking I learned during my first years at Dry Creek. I’m not done with the learning by any means yet. Back in Bulgaria we made the wine in the most pure way possible. We rarely used even sulfur! No additives and none of the modern gadgets-just grapes and barrels.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
MIRO: Don’t play with the wine just because you know how. Only intervene when you absolutely have to and you are sure of the outcome. Always pay attention to the details all the time. Everything you do to the wine-matters!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MIRO: Well I don’t think there is just one person-it is more of a collective of people and styles. I do not believe that I have a particular style per say-I just try to get out of the grapes the most from every vintage-and that would be different every year.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
MIRO: Legally? Commercially –this harvest was my number 20!
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MIRO: I guess I can say that first I want to be satisfied with the wines I make and of course it will be great if a lot of people including media like them as well. Otherwise I’ll have a lot of wine to drink by myself…
RED: Tell me, what makes the Dry Creek Valley so special?
MIRO: In a word, variety!
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
MIRO: You have to love the job. If you are in it just 8 to 5 don’t even think about it. If the love and passion are not there you will be just a booze maker. Also you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of time and long days and hours away from the family.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MIRO: I am just now returning from a consulting job in Bulgaria. I can’t wait to begin bottling the 2008 Miro Cellars Petite Sirah, 2008 Miro Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and my first Pinot Noir, a 2009 vintage wine. It’s good.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
MIRO: Zinfandel is one of my favorite varietals. It is truly California wine. I like the big, jammy, fruit-forward style. Zinfandel is very sweet when the grapes attain true ripeness, so that results in a generous percentage of alcohol for a dry red. I like to balance that alcohol with plenty of flavor and finesse it with complex fruit aroma. I was really lucky with this vintage—no smoke taint.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MIRO: This wine is great with anything from Wednesday night spaghetti and meatballs at home to a rich Coniglio Con Acciughe e Pomodori prepared by a skilled Italian chef.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
MIRO: I wanted to be a MD back in Bulgaria but my girlfriend talked me out of it
RED: Thank goodness for us fans of your wines! What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
MIRO: Rhone wines for sure. I even make one for a winemaker called Cuvee Sasha a GSM-simply delicious without all the pretence.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
MIRO: Think of them as $100 bottle of wines and you will not be disappointed. I hate the cliché but they are “affordable luxury”
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
MIRO: I would like to try again the 1927 Château D’yquem
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
MIRO: Have I been connected to KGB? The answer is –perhaps!
RED: Our intel reports were correct then! Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
MIRO: Thank you! Wine Spies days are always very exciting around here. Your customers are well-informed, and they know good wine.
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the approximate location of the Miro Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the approximate location of the Old Vine Zinfandel vineyards at the Passalacqua/Seghesio property can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Connoisseur’s Guide – “There is plenty of ripeness evident in the blackberry fruitiness of this wine’s fairly outgoing aromas. The briary, peppery edge in the background adds its own bits of interest and range. Supple on the palate, noticeably gruff but not excessively tannic and on the ripe open side in taste, this wine may tempt early drinking, but you will be amply rewarded with a smoother, more polished effort if you wait a few years.
About This Wine:
This Zin, produced from an old-vine, head-pruned vineyard just yards from the bank of the Russian River, has come the closest to fulfilling this passion. Loaded with juicy delicious fruit and just a kiss of toasty oak and vanilla nuances, the wine is irresistible.
About The Winery:
MIRO Cellars searches the region for the best grapes from a variety of vineyards to make their one-of-a-kind specialty wines. Award winning winemaker Miro Tcholakov considers the particular geology and seasonal climate variations of each vineyard when selecting the most interesting grapes the region has to offer. Because Miro has complete freedom to make precisely the wines he loves best, the results are a spectacular leap above the expected. Let yourself in on one of the best kept secrets in wine today — MIRO.
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Production: 190 Cases