What We Say 2006 Estate Zinfandel
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Zinfandel, from our pals at RustRidge, earns special recognition, today, as it rises above our already high standards for the wines that we hand-select for you.
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Mission Codename: Riding the Ridge
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red back to RustRidge Ranch and Winery, from our field agents have spied a fantastic red blend. If the wine is as good as our Operatives say it is, procure an ample quantity.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: RustRidge Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Estate Zinfandel – Napa Valley – Chiles Valley
Winemaker: Susan Meyer
Backgrounder:The Chiles Valley AVA is a very distinctive grape growing region the northeastern part of the Napa Valley. It is a small, narrow and very steep growing region that sits between St. Helena to the west and Lake Berryessa to the east. The region warm climate and well drained soils provide great growing conditions for Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes for today’s Gold Medal-winning wine was grown at 1000 feet above the valley floor.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby red with perfect clarity, right through its slightly darkening core. At the rim of the glass, a gorgeous pink band runs the circumference. Swirl the wine, and marvel at the bouncy surface that settles quickly, leaving behind tall columns of wine-stained tears.
Smell – Strawberry jam, blackberry and ripe black cherry. Then, earthy briarpatch, clove, cinnamon and soft cedar mingle with light vanilla and a hint of toasted oak.
Feel – Initially round at the tip of the tongue, then quickly grippy, as ripe tannins take hold at the front of the palate, before spreading a mineral-driven dryness all around the mouth.
Taste – Bold and jammy with outrageous jammy blackberry, black cherry, blueberry and young strawberry. As the tannins take hold, mixed brown baking spices and pepper appear, along with a wonderful dark mineral flavor that appears as the wine adds its supple dryness.
Finish – Ultra-long and divinely fruit-driven, this wine transitions easily from its bold mixed berry fruit, to its mild spice, pepper and dry minerals at the tail end.
Conclusion – Once again, RustRidge knocks our socks off! This time around, with a Zinfandel that is unlike any other Napa Valley Zin we have tasted. Perhaps what we are experiencing here, besides just great fruit and skillful winemaking, is the unique Terroir of the Chiles Valley. This warm-climate appellation is reported to have the right soils and exposure for great Zin and Cabernet. This is confirmed by today’s wine, which drinks more like a more extracted Zinfandel from the Paso Robles region, where the sun drives Zinfandel or perfect ripeness. This 2006 Estate Zinfandel from our friends at RustRidge is bold and delicious, but well-balanced and restrained enough to enjoy with a hearty meal. We’re having our with grilled steaks tonight!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Susan Meyer
WINE EDUCATION: On the job while I took on RustRidge from Merry Edwards and Ken Rosemblum
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Always here at RustRidge
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Handle the grapes as little as possible and let the fruit shine through the wine.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Wine with the spirit of a thoroughbred.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1992
AGENT RED: Greetings, Susan. We are thrilled to be showing your delicious 2005 Racehorse Red today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
SUSAN MEYER: Hello to you – Agent Red.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
SUSAN: Wine has always been a part of my life and RustRidge specifically since 1972
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
SUSAN: Kent Rosemblum
RED: Who do you make wine for?
SUSAN: The people – our fans
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
SUSAN: This is an intense, fruit-forward Zinfandel with structure. I wanted the grapes to speak for themselves, so there was little intervention in the winemaking process.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
SUSAN: A hearty stew. We recently paired the wine with a beef stew slow cooked for 8 hours with tomatoes, red wine, New Mexico chilies and garlic.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley sub-appellation of Chiles Valley so special?
SUSAN: This is a distinct microclimate that isolated from traffic and other pollutants. Our vines thrive here with the right amount of winter rain, summer sun, cool evenings and healthy soil.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
SUSAN: I’m topping up barrels and getting ready to bottle some new wines.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
SUSAN: With good company, good food and a warm heart.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
SUSAN: The real passion here at RustRidge begins in our vineyards: by committing to both dry and organic farming, we’re allowing the most honest and true characteristics to shine through in each of our wines from the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnays to varietal Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels.
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 approximate location of the RustRidge Ranch and Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Four Star Gold Award – Orange County Fair Wine Competition 2009
About This Wine:
A classic Zinfandel at its finest with aromatics and flavors of bright briar fruit and berries mingled with spices. The mouth feel is elegant and deep with a savory finish. This is a big wine with ripe red fruit that can be enjoyed now but will age well in your cellar.
About The Winery:
The secluded property, once a large thoroughbred horse ranch, was purchased by Susan Meyer’s family in 1972. Now it reflects Jim & Susan’s two passions: wine and horses. They continue to breed and race thoroughbreds and each spring; just about the time new buds form on the grape vines, new foals are born.
The grape vines were planted in the mid 70’s to Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The winery was founded by Stan and Grant Meyer in 1985. It is housed in a renovated cattle barn. Winemaker Susan Meyer and her husband, Jim Fresquez, took over the reins of the operation in 1990.
Helping Susan handcraft the estate-bottled wines produced by RustRidge is distinguished consultant winemaker Kent Rosenblum. Vines are organically grown and dry farmed. The grapes are used by Susan and Kent to create RustRidge’s spectrum of award-winning wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
The region’s special microclimate is integral to the character of RustRidge wines. The Chiles Valley lies approximately 1,000 feet above the Napa Valley floor.
The day time climate here is similar to that of the Oakville and Rutherford areas; however, the temperature is several degrees cooler at night. The cooler nights and the higher elevation delay bud-break which occurs two to three weeks later than the rest of Napa Valley. As a result, the grapes are harvested later than most other grapes from Napa Valley which, in part, lends distinctive flavor and quality to the wines. The reds are redolent of black cherry, raspberry and spice, while the white wines show distinct flavors and aromas of green apple, ripe pear, pineapple and citrus.
TA: .71 g/100 ml
Alcohol: 16.5% by volume
Date Harvested: October 19, 2006
Brix at Harvest: 27 degrees
Barrel Type: French oak barrels
Barrel Aging: Aged over 2 years
Date Bottled: March 27, 2009
Production: 498 cases