What We Say 2006 Rancho Bello Vineyard Zinfandel
Agent Sparkle’s Top Selection
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Mission Codename: The Power of Concentration
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Ottimino, a smash hit with our Zinfandel-loving Operatives. This time around, infiltrate their private library – and secure a stash of their best library Zin.
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Ottimino
Wine Subject: 2006 Zinfandel Rancho Bello Vineyard – Russian River Valley
Winemaker: William Knuttel
Backgrounder: Zinfandel is often aptly named California’s grape. Its history and lore and the wines that result are often the makings of legend. In this case, Starry Night’s winemaker selected the best old-vine grapes from a number of the Russian River’s best vineyards, many of which have been planted for nearly 100 years. The Russian River Valley is ideally suited for red grape varietals. Its early morning fog and coastal breezes result in a cooler climate than the neighboring wine growing regions. For today’s wine, Agent Red returns to Ottimino, to bring you their delicious, single vineyard Russian River Zinfandel, a wine that is bursting with flavor.
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. Russian River Valley Zins, which are characterized by their bold flavors, are among the most popular wines with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest ruby hues, with perfectly even coloration, from rim to core. At the edge, where most wines show lighter hues, color is exactly the same as that found at the core. After swirling, tall clusters of tightly-spaced tears streak down the glass.
Smell – Giant red and black fruit mix with warm spice and nutty, woodsy bramble. Fresh raspberry, strawberry and ripe blackberry take the top position. Under these, cherry, brown spice and black pepper mix with forest floor, bramble bush and a hint of toasty oak.
Feel – Initially soft, then quickly grippy, with a medium-body and medium weight. Fine-grained tannins add texture. As the wine dries the palate, a softly chewy feeling emerges.
Taste – Bold and packed with flavor, the wine leads with black cherry, blackberry, dark wild strawberry and spice. Decant the wine for a short spell, and mocha, oak, white pepper and a hint of savory herbs emerge.
Finish – Long and dynamic, with red fruit gradually giving way to black fruit, spice and a tangy acidity. At the tail end, the palate dries and the flavors take on a chewy, textured feel.
Conclusion – The 2006 Ottimino Rancho Bello Zinfandel is a bold, flavor-packed wine that quickly drives big, dark fruit to all corners of the palate. The wine shows off great fruit from the higher-elevation ridge-top Rancho Bello Vineyard, in the Green Valley sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley. Big, but approachable, this is a fantastic food wine that might be best paired with a spicy chicken dish or a big grilled steak. Decant for best results and be sure to stock up. We have the feeling that you’ll never be able to get your hands on this wine again. Certainly not at today’s special price.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
92 Points – Wine & Spirits – Rancho Bello is a dry-farmed vineyard on a ridge above Green Valley, a warm spot that matures zin into a juicy textural pleasure. This wine has the cool touch of satin and silk, a weave of pine, strawberry, sweet William and resinous herb. Tannins darken and firm it up, but the fruit keeps pouring out from behind them. Decant this to let the aromas build, then serve it with grilled rack of lamb. – Febuary 2010
90 Points – Wine Enthusiast – A wildly flavored, tannic and exuberant Zinfandel that showcases the variety’s exotic personality. Dry and full-bodied, it has brambly flavors of blackberries, black currants, licorice, mocha and smoky cedar, liberally sprinkled with dusty Asian spices. Drink now – 2013 – SH – February 2011
About This Wine:
Black cherry and pomegranate aromas are laced with hints of white pepper, Occidental dust, and vanillin spice. The palate entry has gobs of fruit, with cherry, bramble and ripe strawberry at the core. Smooth, round tannins anchor a great depth and concentration of flavor, and the excellent balance makes this Zinfandel a great food wine.
About The Winery:
Ottimino’s land is a land of dreams. When he came to America in 1913, “Little Eight,” so called because he was the last of eight children and the smallest, had big ambitions. He made his home on a beautiful ridge above Green Valley and forged a life on new soil. He planted the land, especially proud of the vines that nurtured the grapes made into wine for his family’s table. Ottimino became a favorite in the area, and always spoke proudly of his vines.
Eventually Ottimino’s time came to pass, as all things must. But along the way one of the friends he made was Brad Alper, who had a dream similar to Ottimino’s. Brad’s first grapes grew as Ottimino’s time was coming to an end, and the legacy was passed on. Brad eventually expanded his vineyards, and he consulted with other grape growers on Ottimino’s ridge. In time, he knew that all these grapes would need a winemaker to bring their uniqueness to light. His inquiries led him to veteran winemaker Bill Knuttel, who instantly knew that Brad’s (and Ottimino’s) dream would soon become Brad and Bill’s passion. They have built slowly on Ottimino’s legacy, as befits the traditions of Old World quality and craftsmanship, but the results are now for all to see…and taste and enjoy!
Varietals: 100% Zinfandel