Alexander Valley Vineyards
2008 Alexander School Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
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Mission Codename: Zin School
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red back to Alexander Valley Vineyard to secure an allocation of their outstanding Alexander School Old Vine Reserve Zinfandel
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Alexander Valley Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2008 Alexander School Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel
Winemaker: Kevin Hall
Alexander Valley in northeast Sonoma County is located on the western side of the Mayacamas range and extends westward to the edge of the Russian River Valley. This appellation was formerly considered a part of Dry Creek Valley but became its own appellation in November 1984. The region is best known for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and, increasingly, Zinfandel.
Varietal Backgrounder: 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. Alexander Valley Zinfandels, which are characterized by their balanced earthen character and fruit flavors, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dare ruby red hues, from glinting red edge, through its clear and slightly darker heart. Tight clusters of skinny legs start very low on the glass, and then rush down to the surface of the wine.
Smell – Heady mixed spice and blackberry mingle with plum, black cherry, candied Bing cherry and bramble. After the wine breathes for a while, dried mixed flower petals and black pepper mix emerge.
Feel – Soft and smooth across the front-palate. Then, the wine becomes softly grippy as it passed the mid-palate. The wine then shows a beautiful brightness as it sinks onto the palate, and takes on a slightly weighty feel. Supple tannins provide a crushed velvet gripiness that appears first at the back palate.
Taste – Juicy and delicious, this wine is lead by dark blackberry, blueberry, plum and black cherry. As it stretches out, it is joined by an earthy bramble, mushroom, toasty oak and soft spice.
Finish – Long and very flavorful, lead by dark berry and earthen flavors. As the velvety feel drys the palate, the fruit is gradually replaced by black pepper, softly toasty oak and warm brown spice.
Conclusion – This is a very impressive Zinfandel! Today’s 2008 Alexander Valley Vineyards Alexander School Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel is a beautifully balanced wine that shows off truly outstanding fruit and an earthy character. This is a bright, delicious, flavor-filled wine that shows off gorgeous fruit and a perfect mouth-feel. Over the years, we have had the great fortune to have featured wine exceptional wine after exceptional wine from out friends at Alexander Valley Vineyards. While we have enjoyed them all, today’s Reserve Zinfandel is our very favorite. Delicious, balanced and food-friendly, we give this wine our heartiest recommendation.
Busy in the vineyards at this time of year, we were unable to secure an interview with winemaker, Kevin Hall. Tune in again, the next time we feature another fantastic AVV wine!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Alexander Valley Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Winemaker Kevin Hall selected Alexander Valley zinfandel from a single hillside vineyard planted in 1965 on the neighboring Sausal Estate. These giant, gnarly 50 year old vines are head trained and spur pruned, yielding small clusters with fewer grapes per vine. The clusters had uniform, even ripening with amazing concentration and deep flavor of ripe fruit. The weather in 2008 from drought and frigid temperatures also lowered yields, resulting in fruit that showed a little more richness than prior vintages.
The small lot was cold soaked for 24 hours, then inoculated with a yeast that enhances the zinfandels inherent fruitiness and spiciness. After fermentation and pressing, the wine was aged for 27 months in 8 American oak barrels to develop complexity and soften the tannins.
On the nose there are aromas of barrel spice, candied cherry, blackberry and jammy fruit. In the glass there is a soft mouthfeel with flavors of cherry, a very spicy finish and good acidity. The 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel is all about nuances so there are secondary characteristics of graphite, licorice, minerality and some earthiness. Take time to savor this glass, we only produced 219 cases.
Food Pairing: The nice fruit and spiciness pairs well with any grilled meat. Try it with grilled pork, roasted peppers and polenta. The acidity also holds up to tomato based dishes so classic Italian is a natural pairing.
About The Winery:
Welcome to our family-owned wine estate, once the original homestead of Cyrus Alexander, the namesake of this prominent viticultural appellation, Alexander Valley. We purchased the land from the Alexander’s heirs in 1962, planted vineyards, and in 1975 built our winery. Here we grow grapes and produce delicious wines that complement food and enrich your dining experience.
Alexander Valley Vineyards is located on Highway 128 in northern Sonoma County, just 75 miles north of San Francisco, 6 miles from the sleepy town of Healdsburg and 16 miles from Calistoga in the Napa Valley.
Visit our historic property, taste our award-winning wines including our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and our renowned Sin Zin, bring a picnic and enjoy beautiful vistas of our peaceful, rural valley. Our winery tasting room is open daily, 10am to 5pm.
About The Winemaker:
Kevin Hall has studied wine and winemaking techniques across the globe, but the AVV winemaker says his philosophy has always been to respect the inherent qualities of the estate grapes right at his doorstep. “I get beautiful fruit from here on the property,” he says, “and my main focus is to preserve the flavor of the varietal and the terroir.”
Kevin, who has a Masters of Science in Enology from the University of California–Davis, joined the winemaking staff at AVV in 1998. Before that, he spent a year exploring the world’s major wine regions with his wife Paula. “My wife’s family is from the Mosel region of Germany,” he says. “Her grandparents made wine and sold it to their village cooperative.” The pair worked at wineries in Bingen, Germany and Hastings, New Zealand. Between assignments, while traveling through Italy, Spain and all the major wine regions of France and Australia, they talked to as many winemakers as they could, learning key techniques that other winemakers used to produce their best wines.
Under his direction, Alexander Valley Vineyards has won numerous prestigious awards including Best of Show at both the Atlanta International Wine Competition and the Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition, Best Red Wine at the Eastern International Wine Competition and the Florida State Fair and Best Bordeaux Blend at the California State Fair.
Appellation: Alexander Valley
Grape Varietal: 100% Zinfandel
Harvest Dates: September 1, 2008
Barrel Regimen: 27 months aging in 8 60 gallon
American Oak barrels