Truchard Vineyards

2002 Carneros Zinfandel

Zinfandel •Truchard Estate Vineyard

California: Napa Valley: Carneros

Offer Expired:Aug 17, 2011 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


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Mission Codename: Born of diversity, aged to perfection

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Send Agent Red back to Truchard vineyards, a long-standing Operative favorite, to raid their library – and return with an allotment of their remarkable 2002 Zinfandel

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Truchard Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2002 Carneros Zinfandel

Winemaker: Sal De Ianni

Backgrounder: Native to Spain, 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. Zinfandels from the Napa Valley side of the Carneros sub-appellation, are extremely rare. In fact, Truchard says that they are the only ones to grow and craft a Napa Carneros Zinfandel. Our spies can’t find another.

Today’s wine is a stunning example of the unique terroir, great fruit – and amazing winemaking of the Truchard Vineyards.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark cherry juice hues at the core of the wine. Toward the edge of the glass, colors takes on an ever so slightly brickish color. This wine has actually held its color better than we expected to see from a 2002. After a good swirl, wine-stained tears take a very long time to emerge, before falling slowly to the wine below

Smell – Perfumed and deep, with layers of intriguing aromas. The wine leads with very distinct stewed plum and blackberry jam. Under these, black cherry, subtle cedar, earthy bramble and soft brown spice add complexity and intrigue.

Feel – Soft and light on the initial attack. Then, as the wine settles on the mid-palate, it adds a soft and slow-moving grippy dryness that spreads all around the mouth. Fine tannins and a bright acidity support the delicious flavors of the wine, framing the fruit beautifully.

Taste – Really delicious, with deep sweet plum, stewed fig, black cherry and cigar box out in front. As the wine opens up, brown tobacco leaf, dried mushroom, dusty bramble, spice, sweet plum candy and subtle cocoa powder round out the palate.

Finish – Very long and very flavorful, with soft dark fruit that gradually gives way to earthy components and soft spice. At the very end, black pepper and dusty cocoa punctuate the wines delicious flavors.

Conclusion – Today’s Library Raid selection is a delicious, extracted and beautifully balanced wine that delivers a soft, plush mouth-feel and terrific fruit. Truchard’s 2002 Carneros Zinfandel really took us by surprise. We had never tasted an aged Zinfandel from Carneros and we didn’t know what to expect. The wine, which garnered great reviews on its initial release, has aged beautifully. This wine is a true delight to drink, discuss and ponder. A food-friendly wine, we also really enjoyed drinking this Zinfandel all on its own. We’d recommend that you enjoy it with and without food. We give this wine our hearty recommendation! Try it for yourself and see just how well Zinfandel can age.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Sal De Ianni

WINE EDUCATION: Masters Degree/Viticulture & Enology/UC Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1994 Hess Collection, Harvest Intern / 1995-1997 Cuvaison Winery, Enologist/Assistant Winemaker / 1998-present, Truchard Vineyards, Winemaker

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Hands-off, good fruit makes good wine.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “It’s all about balance”



AGENT RED: Greetings, Sal. We are thrilled to be showing your 2002 Carneros Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

SAL DE INANI: No problem! Happy to be back with you, Red. I know that you love this Carneros, Agent Red, and I am happy to share it with you and your Operatives, today.

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

SAL: Growing up, my family always enjoyed wine at dinner. While I was at Northwestern University working on a Ph.D in Analytical Chemistry, I started taking some wine appreciation courses to break up the monotony of my research… After about 6 months I was obsessed with wine and didn’t really care about my research any more. I quit Northwestern and moved to California to attend the UC Davis wine program.

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

SAL: Dr. Michael Peterkin – owner/winemaker of Pierro Margaret River Vineyards (Western Australia). I had the pleasure to work with him for 8 months in 1997.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

SAL: Tony & JoAnn Truchard (the owners of Truchard Vineyards) and myself. We like the same style of wine – elegant, fruit forward, high-acid, lower alcohol – wine that belongs on the table with food. We find that our tastes match those of the fans of our wines!

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

SAL: It is a unique Zinfandel. Truchard Vineyards grows and bottles the only Zinfandel in the Napa/Carneros Region. The cooler Carneros temperatures produce an elegant wine – higher acid and lower alcohol. We like to refer to it as a “Bordeaux-like” Zinfandel – a refined Zin that can age.

RED: Dessert! Any dish that has one or all of the following: chocolate, blackberries, raspberries, cherries.

SAL: Anything off the grill – Meat, Sausage, Veggies. Also great with Pasta and Pizza.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa side of Carneros so special?

SAL: Our mild temperatures make for a long growing season. Longer “hang time” allows for more flavor development and makes for ripe, round tannins. Our Zinfandel is planted on Southwest facing slopes in volcanic rock and ash. This volcanic soil definite impact on the wine – spicy aromas; dark fruit flavors; wonderful velvety tannins.

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

SAL: We are getting ready to bottle our 2010 Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Tempranillo. Once that is finished (end of August) we will begin to prepare the winery for harvest (clean everything). We are not under much pressure yet, since the 2011 harvest looks to be about 3 weeks behind schedule.

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

SAL: The wines from Truchard Vineyards are made in a more European Style – less new oak, higher acid, and lower alcohol. They are best enjoyed with food and have great aging potential. As for wine in general – WINE IS FOOD – I think a lot of people have forgotten that.

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

SAL: Don’t let anyone tell you what wine you should be drinking – drink what you enjoy. Myself, I drink more beer than 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 Truchard winery, which can be visited by appointment only, can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

A spicy nose of black cherry, boysenberry, and plum; perfumed with anise, cedar, and mint. The mouth is filled with bright, jammy flavors of cranberry, cherry, and cassis; followed by sweet vanilla. Ripe tannins and firm acidity focus the palate and provide a long peppery finish.

The Vintage: The 2002 vintage was another outstanding harvest. Excellent springtime conditions resulted in good berry set and average yields. Cooler summer temperatures allowed for extended “hang-time”. Warmer weather in late summer brought the fruit to full maturity. The wines from this vintage have intense aromas, ripe flavors, and excellent balance.

The Vineyard: There are only 4 acres of Zinfandel planted on the Truchard Estate Vineyard. One acre is in the northern “Highlands” region, and three acres are located at the southern end of the vineyard. The vines range from 5 to 12 years old and grow on steep hillsides composed of volcanic rock and ash. The porous soils and cooler Carneros climate combine to produce an exceptionally intense Zin, with unique fruit and spice

Winemaking: The grapes were gently destemmed and crushed, then inoculated with Pasteur Red yeast. The fermentations were pumped-over twice daily, with the temperature peaking at 88ْ F. After 14 days of maceration both lots were pressed, and the wine allowed to settle in tank for 24 hours before going to barrel. This wine was aged in both French (60%) and American oak (40%) for 10 months; 35% of these barrels were new. The wine was racked only one time before being bottled in August of 2003. Truchard Vineyards produces the only Zin made entirely from Napa Carneros fruit.

About The Vineyard:

The Truchard Estate Vineyard is located in the Carneros region of the Napa Valley. It is 380 acres of hills and valleys, which contain a variety of soils: clay, shale, sandstone, limestone, volcanic ash and rock. The combination of terrain, geology, and marine-moderated temperatures, provides ideal conditions for wine-growing. Cabernet Franc is planted in several different sites – on steep southwest-facing hillsides. The vines range from 8 to 22 years old, and produce wines that are deep in color, dominated by lush flavors of plum, berry, and spice. Cabernet Sauvignon which grows on adjacent blocks is blended in to provide firmness, complexity, and added age ability.

About The Winery:

Truchard Vineyards is a small family owned winery in Carneros region of Napa Valley. Proprietors Tony and Jo Ann Truchard have managed a successful vineyard and grown exceptional grapes for over 30 years. Through their hard work and devotion to this unique property, they helped pioneer grapegrowing in the Carneros. In 1989 the Truchards established a winery and began producing wines using only their estate-grown fruit.

About The Winemaker:

Sal De Ianni: I was born and raised in Greenfield, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. I attended Marquette University, and graduated in 1991 with a BS in Chemistry. In the fall of 1991 I moved to Evanston, Illinois, and began graduate studies at Northwestern University. My goal was to earn a Ph. D. in Analytical Chemistry, then find a well-paying job doing research and development. While at Northwestern, I enrolled in some wine appreciation classes hoping to break up the monotony of my research. Six months later the wine courses were more interesting than my research; I decided that I would rather pursue a wine-related job than a career in chemistry. By December of 1992 I had earned a MS in Analytical Chemistry; that same month I was accepted to the Viticulture and Enology department at UC Davis. I moved to California in May of 1993 and began classes that fall.

I worked my first harvest in 1994 at Hess Collection Winery. I spent 6 months in the cellar, and then returned to school. During the 1995 vintage, I worked at Cuvaison Winery, in both the cellar and the lab. After six months, I went back to Davis to finish my thesis:
“Investigating Methods of Detecting Urea in Wine.” In the summer of 1996, I received my MS in Enology and returned to Cuvaison for the upcoming harvest, as the enologist.
Immediately after harvest I was offered the opportunity work in Margaret River, Western Australia. I would be the “
temporary” winemaker at a small ultra-premium winery – Pierro Margaret River Vineyards. I left for Australia in January 1997 and returned to Cuvaison in August, just in time for the 1997 harvest there in California.

After my winemaking experience in Australia, it was hard to go back to being an enologist; so I began searching for a winemaking position in the Napa Valley. I answered a help-wanted ad the local paper which read “small, family-owned winery looking for a hands-on winemaker.” I joined Tony and Jo Ann Truchard at Truchard Vineyards in January 1998.

Technical Analysis:

Harvest: November 1-4

Brix: 24.6

pH: 3.72

TA: 6.6 g/L

Alcohol: 14.2

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