2006 Estate Vineyard Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Estate Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Lucky Number 8
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 Ottimino 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 garnet, with a dark and slightly opaque center. Coloration is evenly concentrated, right out to the burgundy edge of the wine. After swirling, skinny, wine-stained tears move down the glass in an achingly slow manner.
Smell – Lush and very fragrant, with sweet blackberry jam, dark cherry candy, blueberry pastry, blackberry bramble, cocoa dust and dried cherry. These are closely followed by sweet chocolate, sweet brown spice, soft oak and a hint of dried fall leaves.
Feel – Smooth, cool and light across the front-palate. Then, as it passed the mid-palate, it becomes gently grippy, plush and mouth-coating. A soft dryness then eases its way around the palate, leaving behind flint and bright spice. Structured medium tannins and balanced acidity contribute to the complexity of the wine.
Taste – Darker than the sweet nose would lead one to expect, this wine is still juicy, delicious and bursting with flavor. Earthen blackberry, black cherry juice, black plum, blueberry and dark chocolate lead the way. These delicious flavors are followed by black tea leaf, espresso bean, oak, brown spice and black pepper.
Finish – Ultra long and lingering, with dark fruit slowly giving way to the earthy components of dried leaves, oak and tea leaf. After these flavors tail off, minerals, spice and black pepper take longer to disappear.
Conclusion – Of all of the Ottimino Zinfandels we have showcased, this one is our very favorite! Their 2006 Ottimino Vineyard Zinfandel delivers true Russian River greatness, at a price that makes the wine even harder to resist. Sweet and juicy on the nose, this wine is a pleasure to simply inhale. Sip the wine and be pleasantly surprised to find that it drinks more darkly than the nose had suggested. The feel is plush, with a crushed-velvet appeal that our tasting panel really enjoyed. The more you spin this wine in the glass, the more it opens up, revealing additional aromas and flavors. Pair with zesty BBQ or a thick grilled steak with plenty of salt and pepper. A medium dark chocolate is also a delicious treat with this delicious Zin.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Intense aromas of blueberry, orange rind, and ripe raspberry are bolstered by well-integrated notes of French oak that amplify the wine’s cardamom spice. The entry is big and velvety, and the broad palate features flavors of blackberry jam, cranberry and blueberry, all ringing out in the mouth-coating and lengthy finish.
About The Vineyard: Ottimino Vineyard, “our home ranch,” is planted on the land that previously nurtured Ottimino Christiani’s apple orchard. It is located on the same ridgeline as Von Weidlich and Rancho Bello Vineyards, and shares their Goldridge soil structure and temperate climatic traits. Brad Alper planted the vineyard rows to run nearly north and south, providing proper exposure during the long summer days. Budwood came from benchmark old vine Zinfandel vineyards, and two blocks feature the Mendocino and Bradford Mountain selections. A smaller block, planted a few years earlier, contains the Costa Magna selection and stock from the Von Weidlich and Rancho Bello vineyards, extending the historical lineage of the area’s Zinfandel. St. George rootstock minimizes virus potential and aids vine growth in our dry-farmed conditions. Like all of Ottimino’s vineyards, we crop for low yields to achieve unique flavors and unparalleled quality.
Winemaking: This third vintage from the Ottimino Vineyard was harvested on October 14, giving us, once again, the extended ripening time we expect to find in most vintages in this cool section of west Russian River Valley. The 2006 vintage was temperate through spring and into summer, with late August heat finally driving the ripening patterns full speed ahead, and then cooler temperatures in late September guaranteed ideal maturation. We crushed and fermented the fruit with minimal intervention, as is our practice with all the Ottimino single vineyard wines. The must was cold-soaked for two days, then extracted by vigorous irrigation and punchdown until the wine went dry and was pressed off. Malolactic finished during aging in 50% new French oak custom-built for Ottimino by Roberts Cooperage. The wine was racked quarterly and bottled without fining.
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!
Blend: 100% Zinfandel
Harvested: October 14, 2006
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Cooperage: Roberts (custom-built) & Demptos
Barrel Age: 50% new & 50% 1- & 2-year-old
Aging: Twenty-one months
Bottled: August 21, 2008
Production: 837 cases produced