2007 Alegria Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Alegria Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Zinfandel has been on fire, of late, with out Operatives picking them up in record numbers. No wonder, though, as our Zin selections have been quite fantastic – as is the case with today’s delicious selection from out pals at Stryker Sonoma Winery.
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Mission Codename: Bottled Happiness
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Stryker Sonoma, a Wine Spies favorite, and return with their much sought-after, limited-availability, single-vineyard, Russian River Valley Zinfandel.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Stryker Sonoma Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel – Russian River Valley
Winemaker: Tim Hardin
Backgrounder: Agent Red first discovered the Stryker Sonoma Winery in 2007. He loved the wines, and he placed the winery under immediate surveillance. Despite his best efforts at infiltration, the winery held tight to their precious wines – making them available exclusively to customers that buy the wines, directly, and those that are smart wine club members. This changed earlier this year, when Agent Red was able to infiltrate the winery.
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. 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. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet, with a clear but darker core. At the edge of the wine, a wide band of magenta encircles the wine. When swirled, wine-colored legs form high up on the glass wall. These take a little while to appear before they run slowly down the glass.
Smell – Sweet, jammy mixed berries with blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry. The more you swirl, the more aromas are revealed, including black cherry, sweet mixed brown spice, cigar box, darkest chocolate and black pepper.
Feel – Medium-weight, soft and round across the front palate. Then, as the wine passes the mid-palate, it gains some weightiness and dimension, revealing softly grippy and plush tannins. A soft mineral-infused dryness spreads from the center of the palate, outward, eventually drying the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Blackberry, black cherry, bakers chocolate, bramble bush and brown spice of subtle cinnamon and clove provide the initial burst of dark flavors. Close behind, smoky blueberry, tobacco leaf, cedar and dark dried flower petals make a delicious appearance.
Finish – Very long on flavor, this wine finishes with dark berry fruit. This fades to spice, minerals, tobacco and subtle black pepper at the softly dry end.
Conclusion – Absolutely worth the wait, today’s winery took me nearly five years to infiltrate! Unfortunately, the winery didn’t have very much of this wine available for our Operatives. If you appreciate a rich, complex, balanced, flavor-packed Zinfandel, you’ll love this wine. 2007 was a fantastic vintage for Northern California red wines, and this wine shows off the best that the vintage had to offer. Just be sure to act quickly, as this 2007 Stryker Sonoma Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel will likely sell out. Pair with braised shortribs and cheesy polenta for an exquisite dining delight.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Tim Hardin
WINE EDUCATION: Viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College – and the School of Hard Knox.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1994 – 1995 Zmoore, Gewirtz, Position: “Cellar Monkey”; 1996 – 1999 Lynmar, Pinot Noir, Position: “Everything Monkey”; 1999 – Present Stryker Sonoma, Bordeaux House, Position: “Wine Whisperer”
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Let the terroir speak for itself, focus on the varietals and style that lend themselves to the soil and climate of the location of the vineyard.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1999 Two Moon Vineyard Cuvee, Dry Creek Valley, This wine was a Merlot based blend with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon
AGENT RED: Greetings, Tim. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
TIM HARDIN: Thank you, Agent Red. It is great to be back with you and your Operatives.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
TIM: I can’t tell you specifically who it was, but there was a chef that catered an event at Lynmar and the way the wines and plates complemented each other brought both harmonious level. Looking back, I was a young beer drinking Cellar Monkey who would enjoy a glass of wine after work. This event really opened my eyes to what is possible when everything is in balance. Since then it’s been damn hard NOT to have a glass of wine with a killer meal. Think about it, “here’s an incredible Osso Bucco and a glass of milk” nope, that’s not going to work!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
TIM: My winemaking style is influenced by the effort and work that is put into producing incredible Pinot Noir. Handling the fruit delicately and nurturing the grapes through crush and fermentation produces incredible wines. Moving from the Russian River to Alexander Valley I realized that applying this style of winemaking to our Bordeaux varietals here could produce wines of balance and fruit forward character that is rarely seen. Using open top fermentors, and hand punch downs are just a few of the techniques we apply to our wines.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
TIM: I make wine for myself, wines that fit into the style and character that I love to drink and share with those around me.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
TIM: The Alegría Vineyard Zinfandel really shows the classic expression you should expect from a Russian River Zinfandel. I’ve been enjoying this wine as of late for its subdued character and elegance that warm days and cooler nights in the vineyard allowed me to achieve in 2007. This isn’t your monster Zin and folks tend to be surprised to learn that a Zinfandel doesn’t have to always be a fruit bomb.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
TIM: Treat this wine with respect and you will find that it compliments all sorts of great meals. I’ve tried to steer clear of BBQ and BIG meals with this one. Its an elegant wine with subtle notes of fruit and spice. A ragu, or heavier pasta sauce would be the ticket here, think pork cheek or lamb, something with plenty of flavor for the wine to work with.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
TIM: A lot of folks forget that Russian River Valley is not just Pinot and Chardonnay. Don’t get me wrong some of the finest examples of those wines come from this region. What amazes me is how much history there is in the Valley, Alegría Vineyard was originally planted in the 1890’s and there are a handful of unique old vine Zinfandel vineyards scattered throughout the valley. These are the real gems, you aren’t going to see any old vine Pinot noir, but if you see a Zinfandel from this valley it’s no doubt something special.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
TIM: You might think that it’s vacation time in the cellar these days, but in reality we are busy keeping an eye on the 2010 and 2011 vintages, topping barrels, racking wines and sampling to help me visualize what the vintage will gradually become in the coming months and years.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
TIM: Our wines, we hope embody our hard work, attention to detail and the joy we take in making them. We are young, and passionate about wine and strive to express this through balanced wines rich in fruit and deep in character. I always say that folks should enjoy our wines the way we do, decanted and surrounded by friends and family.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
TIM: Feel free to stop on by the winery anytime, our wines are an extension of our terroir and having an opportunity to stand at our tasting room bar, sip on a glass of Cabernet and enjoy the view is something I enjoy just about every day.
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 Stryker Sonoma can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
A fantastic follow up to the 2006 vintage, the 2007 does not dissapoint. On the lighter side for a Zinfandel, this wine is quite food friendly. A nose of light berries, jam and slight tobacco give way to a tart rasberry character on the mouth. The cool nights of the Russian River maintained mouth watering acidity and balance in this wine. Enjoy with Italian and BBQ or combine both and grill yourself a BBQ Chicken pizza!
Enjoy now through 2015.
About The Winery:
We are few, so to ensure quality we make wine in small amounts. We enjoy diversity, so we make our wines from a number of vineyards and varieties. We embrace life, so we share our love of living with those who join us either for a day or for a lifetime.
Our philosophy is reflected in the design of our winery and approach to winemaking. Bold but thoughtful. A blend of traditional and modern. Efficient, but lively and spirited. Our wines, we hope, embody our hard work, attention to detail and the joy we take in making them.
We are all a bit free-spirited and Bohemian by nature. Conventional rules, devoid of understanding or heart, hold no appeal for us. Guided by youthful enthusiasm and tireless dedication, we produce balanced wines high in quality, rich in fruit, and deep in character.
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Vineyard Sources: Alegria Vineyard
Varietal Composition: 100% Zinfandel
Cooperage: French, 35% New
Maturation: 18 Months
Total Acids: .60 g/mL
Residual Sugar: Dry
Production: 309 Cases