S.E. Chase Family Cellars
2006 Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Hayne Vineyard
California: Napa Valley: St. Helena
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Cut to the Chase
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Chase Family Cellars, in Napa Valley’s beautiful St. Helena. Sample their single vineyard Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel… Where Turley gets its grapes for one of their fabled Zinfandels. Secure an allocation for our Zin-loving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: S. E. Chase Family Cellars
Wine Subject: 2006 Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel
Winemaker: Joel Aiken
Backgrounder: The grapes for todays wine comes from the fabled 60-acre Hayne Vineyard in Napa Valley’s St. Helena. You may recognize the Hayne name from super-premium winery, Turley. If you know the name, Turley, you know the award-winning, wait-listed, high-dollar Zinfandels are extraordinary – and nearly impossible to purchase. Today’s wine is made from a small 15 acre section of the Hayne Vineyard, from vines that are more than a century in age. Chase’s offering, at less than half the price of Turley, is a remarkable wine that deserves your special attention, today.
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. Sonoma Valley Old Vine Zinfandels, which are characterized by their refinement and balance, are extraordinarily popular with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby hues, with a darker core and color that maintains its concentration all the way to the very edge of the glass. Swirl the wine and watch thin legs form high up on the glass, before they crawl very slowly downward.
Smell – Concentrated black jammy nose with black cherry, blackberry and black currant with notes of anise, dark chocolate, cracked leather and dried meats. Beneath these, as the wine opens up, plum, black pepper and dried meats emerge.
Feel – Instantly mouth-coating and almost chewy, the wine fills the palate. Soft and round on the mid-palate, this wine is well integrated in its body and complexity. Plush tannins add a crushed velvet feel that spreads a light dryness across the entire palate, eventually puckering the lips and drying the cheeks.
Taste – Bold blackberry, black cherry and plum take center stage. As the wine opens up a bit, these flavors give way to jammy dark raspberry, cassis, strawberry and cassis. Just below lurks subtle flavors of tobacco, licorice, forest floor and soft toasty oak.
Finish – Long and filled with flavor, black fruit yields easily to black fruit and licorice. These flavors hang about for a long time, eventually tailing off to a soft mineral and black pepper sensation that reminds you to take another generous sip.
Conclusion – What an exceptional and delicious gem of a wine this is! I fell in love at first sip, and as the wine opened up, I found myself totally smitten. This wine is certainly has its bold side, but it does not muscle its way around you palate. Instead, it shows an elegant side with great balance and a full mouth-feel. Overall, the drinking experience delivers real pleasure. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Turley wine, chances are you’ve tasted grapes from Chase’s own Hayne Vineyard. Today, dear Operative, you have the opportunity to see what magic can be made of the family that farms the grapes from this century-old Zinfandel vineyard! Enjoy this wine with a hearty meal, like a great steak, or sip it all on its own. Heck, a wine this delicious can be enjoyed as a meal!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Joel. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Chase Cellars Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
JOEL AIKEN: It’s great to be here.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
JOEL: There wasn’t one specific experience. It was really learning about wine as a college student at UC Davis. I was amazed at all of the different styles and how wine could age for decades and continue to improve. I was fascinated by the art of winemaking!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
- JOEL:* It would have to be Andre Tchelistcheff. Many winemaker refer to Andre as the “Father of California Winemaking”. I was lucky enough to work with Andre for a few years and even in his 90’s, he considered himself a student of wine and was always striving to learn more. He was never satisfied with what he did last year so he was always innovating. He really taught me not be complacent and to keep pushing to improve.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
- JOEL:* I really strive to make wines that I like and that I believe consumers will like. Although I like to enjoy a glass of wine on it’s own, I really want to make wines that shine at the dinner table.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
- JOEL:* The wine is the 2006 Chase Cellars Estate Zinfandel. The vines for this wine were planted in 1903 and are truly amazing. They are rugged, gnarly and beautiful. The fruit in this wine is unique and we only use about 15% new barrels because we want to fruit to stand out with the oak in the background. The wine is not heavy handed at all and will age for years, unlike many other Zinfandels.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
- JOEL:* Personally I think pork and our Zinfandel are a match made in heaven.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
- JOEL:* Napa Valley is an amazing place to make wine. The climate allows world class quality wines of many varietals to be made from the many sub-regions. This vineyard in the city of St. Helena is ideally suited to these old Zinfandel vines. The soil is well drained and the heat in St. Helena allows for perfect ripening and the cool nights help retain the freshness and acidity that makes this wine unique and long lived.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
- JOEL:* We just finished bottling the 2009 reds and 2010 whites. Now, I am focusing on barrel work and completing the malo lactic fermentation in some of the stubborn 2010 Zinfandels.
RED: Thanks for taking your valuable time to speak with us today, Joel! We love your wines, so please keep up the great work!
- JOEL:* Cheers, Agent Red!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Chase Cellars winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About The Wine:
We have been looking forward to this vintage since it was harvested. Rich and full with lots of spice and of course, our signature black raspberries and cherry flavors. You will love it from the first moment you try it.
About The Winery:
S. E. Chase Cellars pays homage to Sarah Esther Chase Bourn a woman who, like the wine which bears her name, demonstrated incredible strength of character, an indelible personality, and a take-notice presence.
The wife a wealthy businessman, Sarah Esther Chase discovered the Napa Valley while visiting the area’s spas in the late 1800’s. But it was a tragedy that compelled her to create a home in the valley. After the loss of a young son, Sarah persuaded her husband William Bourn to purchase the Madrona Estate, as it was known, on the southwestern edge of St. Helena.
With a strong will and determination Sarah turned the property into a working ranch. In addition to the vineyard that already existed, Sarah added chickens, olive trees, wheat, corn and even a silk worm farm to her holdings.
A colorful figure in the community, who was noted as much for her travels to Europe with her daughters as her goings-on at Madrona, Sarah’s legacy became the vineyard that first attracted her to the property.
Upon the death of her husband the estate management of the estate was turned over to her son William Bourn II, who was as industrious as his mother. William perpetuated Sarah’s impact on the area by selling the family grapes to Napa Valley’s first winemaker, Charles Krug. It was the start of what would become a long-standing family tradition.
Not content to only sell grapes, William wanted to produce wine and create a place to do so for himself and his neighbors. The answer was to build a co-op for wine production and storage. In 1888 he built Greystone Cellars, the historic and formidable stone building at the northern end of St. Helena.
In 1894 when phyloxera wiped out much of Napa Valley’s vineyards, including Sarah’s, William sold Greystone to the Christian Brothers. Today it is home to the venerable Culinary Institute of America.
Less than ten-years after the vineyard went fallow William’s sister, Maude and her husband William Alston Hayne planted the eponymously named vineyard with zinfandel, and other varietals. Today the Zinfandel vines still thrive. The head-pruned Zinfandel vines are dry-farmed in the sandy-gravelly soil that produces Napa Valley’s most exuberant and robust zinfandel grapes.
In 1998, Sarah’s great-great grandson, Andy Simpson and his wife Pam Simpson harvested grapes from a twelve-acre parcel within the Hayne Vineyard and created their first vintage of S. E. Chase Family Cellars Zinfandel. Using a garage built next to the property’s original white cottage as a winery, the couple held their first crush in September 2002.
S.E. Chase Family Cellars Zinfandel vibrantly expresses the rich history of the Hayne Vineyard and the passion of the Chase family that has tenderly cared for the grapes grown in one of the world’s premier vineyards for more than a century.