Spelletich Cellars

2006 Amador County Reserve Zinfandel


California: Amador County

Offer Expired:May 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Casts A Spell On You

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Revisit our friends at Spelletich and abscond with their delicious Amador County Reserve Zindandel

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Spelletich Cellars

Wine Subject: 2006 Amador County Reserve Zinfandel

Winemaker: Barbara Spelletich

Backgrounder: Nestled in California’s once gold-rich Sierra Foothills, the Amador County AVA (American Viticultural Area) has been called California’s last great undiscovered wine growing region. With vineyards that date back to the 19th Century, this region is home to some of the oldest vines in the state. Today, Amador County produces some of the most deeply concentrated and intense Zinfandels in the state. 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.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep and dark but clear garnet that becomes more ruby red along the edges. When swirled, this springy wine leaves slow and evenly spaced thin legs on the side of the glass.

Smell – Bright, ripe and sweet aromas of black and red fruit including boysenberry, blackberry and red cherry framed by notes of sweet wood and oak, mocha, sweet anise, exotic and baking spice and a touch of brambly spearmint.

Feel – Smooth and nearly dry, this medium bodied Zin is both tangy and vibrant with medium firm tannins and juicy acidity.

Taste – Fruit forward and expansive with generous sweet and ripe blackberry, boysenberry and red cherry that meld with baking spice, sweet oak, mocha coffee and dark chocolate. Spice white and cayenne pepper also tingles the tongue.

Finish – Medium to long in length with its jammy sweet fruit blending with its oak and mocha that gives way to the spicy pepper notes.

Conclusion – If you’re a fan a big, ripe and generously fruit forward Zins, the the 2006 Spelletich Cellars Amador County Reserve Zinfandel is perfect for you. Jammy fruit greets you on the nose and lingers into the finish. Notes of mocha, spice and sweet wood keeps things interesting from start to finish. Enjoy this wine right now (give it some time upon opening as its spice is fairly sturdy upon opening) and pair with grilled burgers or pizza.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Barbara Spelletich


CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Cork & Bottle, Seattle Washington, Retail Store Manager. Taught Wine Classes, wine tasting and cheese; St. Michelle, Woodinville, Washington, Retail Sales Manager, Public Events, Tasting Room Zephyr Imports, Owner; Imported wines from Italy, France, Germany, Spain & Portugal; Whitwhams, Responsible for US sales. We were negociants for Cru Classe Bordeaux, Ports & Burgundies. Offices in Manchester England & Cenon, Bordeaux; St. Clement, St. Helena, CA National Sales Manager; Spelletich Cellars, Owner & Winemaker

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: As natural as possible.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: ” I do want to manipulate wine. I want to harvest when ripe, ferment cool to capture the fruit essence and age until the wine is ready to be bottled. The most important feature of my wine is that it smell and taste of the grapes it was made from. Simple.”

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Bodog Red 1993, Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 & Chardonnay 1994. All Napa Valley.


AGENT RED: Greetings, Barbara. Welcome back! We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Spellwines Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

BARBARA SPELLETICH: Excited to be here.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

BARBARA: Yes, a trip to California when I was 18 years old. I tasted Cabernet Sauvignon at a dinner and that was it!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

BARBARA: The list is long as I imported wine from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal & Spain for years. Angelo Gaja taught me to not compromise, Signore Gentini taught me to blend, Egon Mueller taught me to plant the right clone of grapes and keep the vines healthy. Each of the wines I exported to my company, Zephyr Imports, in Seattle Washington had a story, a style, a commitment to excellence & a creative curve.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

BARBARA: I make wine for customers. I make wines that are great with food. So my customers are also foodies who like wine. Same me & my family & friends.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

BARBARA: I love this wine! This is a non ML Zinfandel, so it is crisp, refreshing and inviting. Also an organic vineyard planted in 1972. This wine is as natural as a wine can be.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

BARBARA: I have paired it with flourless chocolate torte, barbeque, halibut with mango salsa, rotisserie chicken with masala dry rub. All things spicy and lively.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Amador County region so special?

BARBARA: Amador County is cold at night and extremely hot during the day. The elevation is over 2000 feet. This makes for a unique growing environment. The soils are pulverized granite and this also lends to a flavor profile of minerality.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

BARBARA: Racking and blending wines. We have lots of bottling to do before harvest.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

BARBARA: Use your nose first. As a winemaker, I love the smell of wine. So the aroma is the first sense of any wine we taste. I like to swirl my wine to open it up and then take my first sip and roll this around my mouth a bit before I swallow. Sometimes we need to let a wine open up and show its personality before we really get it. Take your time with wine. The wait is worth it.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

BARBARA: Taste wines you have never tried before. You will fall in love. Again.

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 Spelletich Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

A libertine of wine with power and finesse.

Creamy, berry and plum aromas. On the palate, blackberry, cocoa, sassafras, brambleberry, black cherry cola and anise with a dollop of vanilla crème. With fleshy tannins that provide a long smooth finish that lingers. Lovely and perfumed with some clove and mint aromas. In the mouth there’s an endless amount of juicy black fruit that will pair wonderfully with foie gras and duck.

Amador County provides us with the best of both worlds for zinfandel: The ability to get the grapes ripe while maintaining natural acidity. Old-fashioned head pruned vines planted in Sierra granitically derived from shallow soil. Hot days and cool nights give us the ripeness/acidity/PH and tannin balance that makes wine, well…taste like wine.

Barb Spelletich is an independent winemaker who followers her gut instincts regarding the balance of this big Zin. Ever since we started working with Amador County Zinfandel in 1998 Spelletich Cellars has prevented malo-lactic fermentation by sulphuring immediately after primary fermentation and settling.

The grapes reminded her of powerful Reislings and Gequrztraminers from Alsace and Germany from her days as an importer. Barb wanted to capture and maintain the power and freshness.

This authentic wine has an abundance of individual character. Juicy and jammy, a big boy, prodigal Zinfandel.

Amador County provides us with the best of both worlds for Zinfandel: the ability to get the grapes ripe while maintaining natural acidity. Harvested by flavors not sugar, our zinfandel boasts ripeness together with acidity to liven it up and carry a refreshing finish. Just like the Alvisos, this wine has deep integrity.
Robust and evolving, the 2006 drinks well now in its tempered balance and will age gracefully. A cool fermentation and no malolactic fermentation adds to the charm of this distinctive Zinfandel. The style of wines we want to produce: Rich, ripe and refreshing. Wine that actually tastes like wine. This wine complements food, family and friends.

About The Winery:

Spelletich Family Winery started with the 1994 harvest in Napa Valley. The first wines were Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bodog Red. With minimal intervention, they rely upon their secret weapon: Barb’s palate. Focusing on three basic, yet critical principles: when to harvest, when to press and when to pull off the oak to pursue something larger and more elusive than your ordinary wines. Their approach is to produce wines of integrity; that are rich, ripe and refreshing. Barbs focus is the fruit. She wants you to be able to taste real fruit flavors and smell the incredible nose of her wines. This winery is truly only family owned and operated. Husband & wife team Timothy and Barb Spelletich and their daughter Kristen.

Barb was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She stared her career in the wine industry as the manager of The Cork & Bottle. She worked for Ste. Michelle Winery, G. Raden & Sons, and then established her own distributorship, Zephyr Imports. This began her international travels and relationships with the finest wineries in the world. She spent every spring traveling to Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. The purpose was to visit each producer to choose the wines to be exported to the United States. These producers became friends and taught Barb much about wine making. Mainly the importance of ripe fruit and the gentle way to preserve that fruit flavor. Her next step was Whitwhams Fine and Rare Wines, based in Manchester, England and Bordeaux. Life as a negociant enhanced her contact with winemakers of all Cru Classe. She futher enhanced her winemaking skills with courses at UC Davis. Barb arrived in Napa Valley in 1992 and started working for St. Clement Vineyards in St. Helena.

Timothy grew up half way across the country in Davenport, Iowa. After graduating with a degree in business from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he had an opportunity to work in Italy. He worked at the Locanda Del Sant’Uffizio, a small country inn and restaurant located in a town outside of Asti. At this former monastery he experienced an old fashioned way of life. Each prix fixe meal was prepared with the freshest seasonal ingredients available on the property and nearby villages. The exposure to herbs, fruits and vegetables harvested at their peak of ripeness, creating menus, plus pairing the food with wine introduced Timothy to flavors and sensory evalationsthat changed his life forever. This small exclusive inn also made their own wine from estate grapes. He then returned to the United States to work for The Pierre Hotel in New York City and The Four Seasons in Philadelphia. Timothy arrived in Napa Valley spring of 1993 and started working for Tra Vigne Restaurant in St. Helena as manager and wine buyer.

After 11 years of business, Barb & Timothy were able to hire their daughter Kristen. Born in Seattle, Washington, she grew up in St. Helena. Kristen spent 10 years working in the wine and hospitality industry before she was ready to tackle her own family business. While attending college in Napa for Psychology, she had an opportunity to work at The French Laundry and realized that she needed to start thinking more seriously about the industry that had been part of her life since birth. She continued learning through sales and relationship marketing at The Culinary Insitute, Viansa, Sterling Vineyards and Mumm Napa. Her main focus now is to build Spelletich Cellars to fit the 21st century market.

Timothy and Barb’s individual experiences in Europe, interests in wine, food, cooking and entrepreneurial drive generate an awesome team of artistry and hard work. The combination of wine industry preparation and lifelong passion is what united them in the heart of Napa Valley to launch Spelletich Cellars Winery.

Now with the second generation on board and a strong outlook on the future, we share our passion and remind you that life is to be enjoyed with food, family & friends!

Technical Analysis:

Region: Amador County

Alcohol: 16.5%

Vineyard: Certified organic vineyard

Aging: 30 months on Oak

Winemaking: Non-malolactic

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