2007 Tina's Block Maple Vineyard Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Maple Vineyards
California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley
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Mission Codename: Tina’s Choice
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Infiltrate Armida Winery and secure a limited allocation one of their superb single vineyard Zinfandel
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Armida Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Tina’s Block Maple Vineyard Zinfandel
Winemaker: Brandon Lapides
Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is a treasure trove of great wines. While The Wine Spies have been trying to keep from acquiring too many wines from the region when the wines are great, so why not? Today’s wine is sourced from Tom and Tina Maple’s 27 acre vineyard near the intersection of Lytton Springs and Dry Creek Roads. Being dry farmed and with its clay and loam rocky soil it is particular well suited to exceptional Zinfandel.
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 Dry Creek Valley, where this Zinfandel’s grapes are are grown are characterized by their bright and balanced flavors, distinct minerality and spice are quite in popularity with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deepest ruby red, with an dark and dark but clear core of ruby and purple hues. Along the edges the color remains deep and intense with evenly spaced medium legs that descend deliberately to the wine below when swirled.
Smell – Solid blackberry and ripe plum notes along with a touch of red fruit blend with woody vanilla toasted oak, green herbal notes, licorice and dark chocolate, a touch of black pepper and hints of lavender adds complexity to the robust nose.
Feel – Smooth and expansive on the tongue with firm but well integrated tannins and balanced acidity softens as this wine opens and despite a generally higher alcohol content it doesn’t overpower. Hints of dark minerality keeps things interesting into the finish.
Taste – Abundant and bold black and red fruit, including ripe blackberry, dark plum and black cherry layers over licorice, black pepper and toasted vanilla oak notes. Dark chocolate, sweet spice and soft bramble herbs also make their presence known.
Finish – Long, clean and plush, this wine’s generous fruit and sweet spice, chocolate and herbal notes fade gently in unison begging for another big gulp.
Conclusion – The 2007 Armida Winery Tina’s Block Maple Vineyard Zinfandel is a delicious and while big and bold, is also remarkably elegant for a powerful Zin. Smooth and plush with plenty of complexity this is a great wine for the holidays and will certainly become a fan favorite. If enjoying this wine now, be sure to give it a few minutes to open up or cellar for the next five plus years.
Agent Sass’s Review:
With a seductive nose of perfumed lavender, plum and just a hint of elegant dark chocolate; this deeply colored wine showcases as one of the best Zinfandels around! With dramatic hues of cranberry color so vibrantly illuminating one’s glass, each mouthful of this smooth and sophisticated wine soothes the palate, and even surpasses the big bold cabs and Meritage reds, with its full, albeit ever so gulpable body. A guaranteed delight, to those who covet powerful and still beautiful grape, this Zin gets even better, while open and exposed to air. Simply put, this opulent selection of wine shall become one of your favorites, and from the first sip right through to the last! (see below for a complete bio of Agent Sass)
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Brandon Lapides
WINE EDUCATION: BS. Fermentation Science University of California at Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Internships: Testarossa Vineyards, RH Phillips, Brancott Cellars; Assistant Winemaker: Peachy Canyon Winery, Dutton Goldfield Winery
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Lets bring back the old school philosophies, using as little new technology as possible.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Fill up my cup, Mazeltov.” – Black Eyed Peas.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Brandon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Tina’s Block Maple Vineyard Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BRANDON LAPIDES: Its great to be back with you, Agent Red!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BRANDON: Growing up I was mystified that when our whole family would get together, there would be many lengthy discussions about different wines. My curiosity then led to my eventual love of wine.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BRANDON: ’61 Latour. My grandfather had enough foresight to start buying Bordeaux wines in the late 60’s. I have been fortunate enough to have a few bottles over a span of 10 years. The wine has been the only wine that I have tasted that has ever lived up to its hype. The balance and complexities in the ’61 Latour after 40+ years of aging influenced my winemaking to try to have as much longevity in my own wines.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BRANDON: Our 2007 Zinfandel from Tina’s Block, within Maple Vineyard is a very special wine that we make. Tina’s Block is a two-acre block of dry farmed zinfandel within the famous Maple Vineyard. The vines are extremely old and they struggle to even put out 2 tons per acre of fruit. The block was planted as a field blend, so there is many other types of grapes besides just Zinfandel, there is Mission, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Black Malvatia, and Alicante Bouchet. This mix of different varietals lends to a completely unique wine, the heart of the wine is beautiful juicy zinfandel with the other varietals adding color, spice and aromatics.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BRANDON: My favorite recipe is Slow-Cooked Lamb’s Leg in Pomegranate sauce. The richness of the meat and the sweet-acidity of the pomegranate pairs very well with the balance of the Tina’s Block.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Mape Vineyard so special?
BRANDON: Maple Vineyard in the heart of Dry Creek Valley, is the essence of Zinfandel. With many of the vines being planted in 1910, without any drip irrigation the vines struggle, which in turn produces rich, concentrated zinfandels. These types of vineyards are becoming more scarce and so are the incredible resulting wines.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BRANDON: We are one week from bottling some of our other wines from the 2009 vintage. After the bottling we will make sure that all of the wines from the 2010 harvest are behaving and set to hibernate through the new year.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BRANDON: I always recommend that consumers accompany our wines with food. Our wines pair well with a variety of foods and should be consumed with family and friends.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
BRANDON: I would love to invite any of your readers to come visit our vineyards, winery and tasting room right outside of Healdsburg. We have a beautiful patio with an incredible view overlooking our vineyards and manicured gardens. There is also a bocce ball court to test your skills after a glass of wine.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Armida Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
About Agent Sass:
Agent Sass, currently a resident of New England, is a bond girl to the Nth degree! Speaking multiple languages, feasting on exotic game meats, drinking exclusively red wines – but for the occasional bubbly or Zind Humbrecht white – and having an affinity for leather trousers and “high fashion” shoes; Agent Sass produced an edgy wine etiquette DVD: www.sassfrommyglass.com. She has enjoyed wine with her dinner nightly, since age 10, and taught extemporaneous speaking to college students prior to today. While drinking copious reds, Agent Sass raises very pampered Cocker Spaniels and prepares all of their gourmet food from scratch. Despite her luscious crush on Malbecs, her favorite wine is tied between Ghost Horse Cabernet & Screaming Eagle Cabernet – still a delicious “menage a trois” for Sass, while she determines which it is, that truly hits the spot best for her!
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Tina’s Block is the oldest block on the Maple Vineyard. The vines are 80 to 100 years old, head pruned, and dry farmed. Just a few acres in size, this is a true Italian field blend, meaning there is much more than just Zinfandel planted in Tina’s block. There is some Petite Sirah, Carignane, Mouvedre, and even a couple of Mission vines. These varietals add color, structure, depth, and make this wine truly unique. The nose is bursting with black plum, dark cherry, and dark maple syrup and has a structured, luscious mouth with tastes of vanilla, sweet oak, and amareno cherries. The finish is amazingly long, with hints of molasses and chocolate covered cherries.
About The Winery:
Hello folks! We purchased controlling interest in Armida Winery from Robert Frugoli in 1994. Wow, it is difficult to believe more than 15 years have gone by since we began this grand adventure. On little more than hope, faith, and a little help from our local friendly bank, we jumped into the “family owned and operated” wine business with both feet. Bruce arrived having just sold his super successful home furnishings business in San Jose, and Steve brought his experience including stints as President of Buena Vista Winery and COO of Freemark Abbey Winery. Bruce’s entrepreneurial spirit combined with Steve’s wine industry knowledge, and a whole lot of hard work, has transformed Armida Winery from a sleepy little winery producing pretty good wines to a much more lively place focusing on ultra premium, hand crafted, single vineyard wines from the top vineyards of neighboring Dry Creek, Russian River and Alexander Valleys.
We make over ten different wines showcasing some of the very best vineyards in Sonoma County including Maple Vineyard Zinfandel, Flora Ranch.
Zinfandel, Durell Vineyard Pinot Noir, Black Kite Pinot Noir, Bacigalupi Pinot Noir, Castelli-Knight Pinot Noir, Parmellee-Hill Pinot Noir, Stuhlmuller Chardonnay, Keefer Chardonnay and Durell Vineyard Chardonnay. From our seven-acre estate vineyard we produce Il Campo (“Field Blend”), a delicious combination of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. We also produce “POIZIN” (Zinfandel), “The Wine to Die For,” and “ANTIDOTE,” a beautiful Pinot Grigio in cobalt blue half bottles.
Over the years we have met so many interesting people. Many of our best customers are our friends and we enjoying seeing them and being able to spend time with them. We don’t make a whole lot of wine, preferring to concentrate on quality rather than quantity. As such, practically all of our wine is sold directly to members of our wine club and those of you who visit us at the winery. Our wine club always gets first crack at our smallest production wines, a privilege they seem to enjoy very much! We invite you to drop by here any time between 11am and 5pm to try our wines and enjoy the ambiance of our hillside property and views. If so inclined you might want to bring along lunch to enjoy on the large patio overlooking the Russian River Valley, or perhaps play Bocce Ball on the court above the pond. We take our wines very seriously, but once they are “made,” we make sure to have a whole lot of fun.
On any given day you will find us working in the tasting room along side Janet or Kristina, tending the garden, fixing something (maintenance is non ending!), doing office work (not our favorite) or helping wine maker Jessica and cellar master PW during harvest. We will be sure to say HI when we see you!