Sausal Winery (closed)
2007 Private Reserve Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Estate Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What we say
Today’s Old Vine Zinfandel, from our good friends at Sausal, is an exceptional value, earning it this QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Alert.
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Mission Codename: The Roaring Ninety
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Sausal Winery and secure a high-value Old Vine Zinfandel for our Operatives around the world
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Sausal Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Private Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel, Alexander Valley
Winemaker: Dave Demostene
Backgrounder: 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. Alexander Valley Zinfandels, which 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 – Dark garnet, with a slightly opaque core, this wine is shimmery and dense-looking. When swirled, it settles quickly, leaving behind tall columns of skinny, wine-stained legs that march steadily down the glass.
Smell – Perfumy red cherry juice springs from the glass, followed by candied strawberry, smokey blueberry, custard pastry, rose petals and subtle oak, black pepper and a hint of fresh salad herbs.
Feel – Softly grippy on entry, the soft and slightly round across the mid-palate. Gradually, a soft dryness spreads across the palate, drying the tongue, cheeks and lips as it goes.
Taste – Concentrated top notes of blackberry, boysenberry and black cherry are followed by spiced Bing cherry, bramble, dried fall leaves, soft spice and black pepper.
Finish – Medium-long, this wine initially finishes with black fruit – but then red fruit and spice appear on the mid. Then, the dryness ease the flavors off, replacing them with a mineral black pepper spice that lingers for a long time.
Conclusion – This is the second successive vintage that we have had the pleasure to show. We loved the wine last year, we love it again this year. Old Vine Zinfandel is something of a miracle to me. For today’s wine, the 90+ year-old vines that made this wine, continue to produce great fruit. California’s Alexander Valley is a special place for Zinfandel, known for producing Zins of concentrated flavor, depth and finesse. This wine drinks above its price class, while offering up concentrated, jammy fruit and spice that makes the wine a pleasure to sip. Enjoy this food-friendly wine with a grilled steak or spicy pasta dish.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Dave Demostene
WINE EDUCATION: After graduating from Cal Poly and completing the wine enology program at Davis, I worked for 17 years with my father who was a winemaker
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Sausal Winery, Winemaker since 1973
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: The less you do to the wine the better
WINEMAKER QUOTE: It takes good grapes to make good wine
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1974
AGENT RED: Greetings, Dave. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
DAVE: You’re welcome!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
DAVE: I grew up in the wine business, watching and helping my father make wine… this was way before it was popular. It was just our way of life then: Growing grapes and making wine.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
DAVE: I learned by watching my father and in those days if someone made a good wine you’d ask them how they made it and they would tell you. It was a small industry then and everyone shared what they did or would be happy to help you out.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
DAVE: I try to get away from the heavy fruit and high alcohol wines. I like a more balanced wine.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
DAVE: My Dad
RED: How long have you been making wine?
DAVE: I’ve been making wine all my life. I started working in the winery when I was 14 years old, after school and on weekends. I did everything: Shoveling pumice, pumping over, and racking wine.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
DAVE: I make wine that I like and our customers seem to like that too.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Alexander Valley so special?
DAVE: The soil and micro climate make this a good area. We have well drained soil, warm days with cool nights and a breeze that blows through the valley. Perfect growing conditions.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
DAVE: Get your basics at school, but then find a winery that makes wine you like to get your apprenticeship from. Work a harvest there to learn how its done.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
DAVE: Harvest. This has been a year like no other, but the grapes are really coming in now.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
DAVE: The Private Reserve Zinfandel is made from vines that are 90 years old and are dry farmed. So the fruit in this wine is concentrated.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
DAVE: I love lamb with the Private Reserve, but it works well with most all roasted meats.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
DAVE: I like to hunt. Mostly pig, deer and elk
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
DAVE: You can’t go wrong with any Sausal Family wine!
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
DAVE: Our wines are ready to drink when they are released and are made to be enjoyed with food.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
DAVE: Sausal Century Vines Zinfandel. That wine is made from vines that are over 130 years old. It’s soft and elegant. A perfect afternoon sipping wine.
RED: 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!
DAVE: Thank you very much, and I hope you enjoy our wine.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Sausal winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
The 2007 Private Reserve Zinfandel is made entirely from estate grown grapes. These vines average 90 years old, and impart a rich Zinfandel character indicative of the soil in the eastern foothills of the Alexander Valley. These vines are dry farmed, creating concentrated and abundant fruit; the end result being a big bold Zinfandel.
Due to the well balanced structure of this wine, it will drink well now or continue to impress through the next decade. Enjoy with beef stew, or hearty grilled or roasted dark meats.
This estate Zinfandel is produced from dry farmed 90-year-old vines. This wine is aged for seventeen months in French oak barrels, yielding a jammy and dense Zinfandel. The balanced, but abundant fruit in this wine make it a delicious complement to roasted and grilled meats, rich pastas, and hearty stews. The Private Reserve Zinfandel will cellar well for at least ten years.
About The Winery:
Just outside of Healdsburg on Hwy 128 in the heart of Alexander Valley you will find Sausal Winery, a small family owned winery that produces award winning wine. Owned by the Demostene Family, Sausal Winery consistently produces premium estate bottled Old Vine Zinfandels (Family Zinfandel, Private Reserve Zinfandel, and Century Vine Zinfandel), Estate Sangiovese, and Estate Cabernet at reasonable prices.
The Demostene family history reads like a short course in the history of the Alexander Valley from the turn of the century. In 1901, Manuel Demostene, a native of Genoa Italy, began work on a ranch in the Valley. Soon thereafter, another Italian immigrant Abele Ferrari (pictured left) accepted work at Italian Swiss Colony in nearby Asti.
A mechanical whiz, Ferrari soon purchased the Healdsburg Machine Shop and began manufacturing winemaking equipment. Most notable was the Healdsburg Crusher for which he held 11 patents. During prohibition Abele’s business faltered along with all other wine-related industries.
Abele never lost faith and in 1923, after a steady decline in property values he seized the opportunity to purchase Soda Rock Ranch and Winery in the Alexander Valley. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the enterprising Abele Ferrari completely rebuilt the old stone winery using recycled materials.
Romance brought the first two generations of Italian immigrants together. In 1936, Manuel Demostene’s son, Leo married Abele Ferrari’s daughter, Rose. The young couple established their new home at Soda Rock Winery where Leo took over duties as winemaker.
Leo’s dream was to have a winery of his own one day and in 1956 Leo and Rose took the first step by purchasing Sausal Ranch. A 125 acre property planted to prunes, apples and zinfandel wine
grapes. Many of the original vines were quite old and clearly established prior to the publication of an 1877 atlas of the area.
For old-timers like Leo it was a simple fact of life that the Alexander Valley was best suited for growing red wine grapes. With the help of his four children – Dave, Ed, Peachie and Cindy- scores of acres of new zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon plantings were installed over the next decade. During this time the entire family continued to help their grandfather at Soda Rock Winery aware that the knowledge gained there would be of real benefit someday.
Leo’s dreams of converting an old prune dehydrator into a winemaking facility at Sausal Ranch were not realized before his death in 1973. That same year however, after a remarkable effort from his children Leo’s sogni d’oro, his “golden dream”, was fulfilled.
This brings us to the third generation of this winemaking family. Dave, Ed, Peachie and Cindy have turned their father’s dream into a reality and each play a key role in keeping the dream alive.