Grgich Hills Estate
2008 Napa Valley Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Estate Grown
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
We haven’t showcased a great Zinfandel in a while, so we wanted to be sure that today’s was fantastic. Today’s wine easily earns today’s alert, which we issue whenever we feature a true standout wine.
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Mission Codename: The hits keep on coming
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Wine Spies favorite, Grgich Hills Estate, for special access to their newest Zinfandel. Secure a sizable allocation for our waiting Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Grgich Hills Estate
Wine Subject: 2008 Napa Valley Estate Grown Zinfandel
Winemaker: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
Backgrounder: In 1976, Mike Grgich rocked the wine world by creating a California that beat out French Chardonnays in the now famous Judgment of Paris. The French were outraged, and Mike Grgich earned the respect of wine drinkers and critics, worldwide. Today, Mike continues to oversee production of what have been heralded as “the finest wines in the world”. We are very proud to be able to bring you today’s fantastic Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Zinfandel.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Ruby red hues, with perfectly even color, from core to edge. Perfect clarity, right through the slightly darker core of the wine. After swirling, branching legs from high up on the glass wall – and then rocket downward.
Smell – Black cherry candy and blackberry mingle with sweet tobacco, earthy spice, cigar box and dark chocolate. As the wine stretches out a little, additional aromas of sweet cedar shavings, black pepper and softly toasted oak emerge.
Feel – Soft, smooth and slightly round, at first. Then, the wine becomes more weighty, revealing additional texture and complexity as a soft dryness spreads from the edges of the palate, inward. Fine tannins and an easy acidity contribute balance and elegance.
Taste – Dark red and concentrated, with black cherry and tart blackberry & plum preserves. Under these, dark notes of black tea leaf, cocoa powder, dark sweetwoods, tomato vine and toasted oak add a layer of complexity.
Finish – Long and very flavorful, with big cherry and cocoa gradually yielding to earthen tea, spice, soft pepper and a hint of oak.
Conclusion – Grgich has given us special access, once again, to one of their wines! Today’s 2008 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Zinfandel is a fantastic offering from this, one of our most popular wineries. With delicious, dark cherry flavors that are balanced against cocoa and soft spice, our tasting panel found itself taking a long time with this wine, savoring every inhalation and sip as we reviewed. Rich, lush, flavor-filled and delicious, we give this wine very high marks. Enjoy this food-friendly wine now, and for the next 7 years or more.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Grgich Hills Estate can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Grown at our estate vineyard in Calistoga, our Zinfandel grapes are certified organic and Biodynamic®. The vineyard’s gravelly loam provide excellent drainage and the cloudless days and cool nighttime temperatures are perfect for sun-loving Zinfandel. Pure flavors of strawberries, raspberries and a hint of dried sage make this wine the perfect match for grilled steak, smoked brisket, and pasta or pizza topped with tomato sauce.
The Vintage: From budbreak through harvest we didn’t see a drop of rain, making 2008 one of the driest years since we began in 1977. Frost threatened the new buds through April, and then we enjoyed a steady, relatively cool growing season until a heat spike at the end August jump-started harvest. Because we received less precipitation, the grapes were smaller, reducing yield but giving us concentrated favors.
The Vineyard: We grow our Zinfandel at our vineyard in Calistoga, which is certifed organic and Biodynamic®. Nestled in the northern tip of Napa Valley, the vineyard’s gravelly loam provides excellent drainage and the cloudless days and cool nighttime temperatures are perfect for sun-loving Zinfandel. The vines are head pruned to protect the grapes from sunburn. All of these features combine to produce concentrated, complex favors in the wine.
The Wine: We co-fermented the Zinfandel with a touch of Petite Sirah to add complexity and structure and then aged the wine in large oak casks so the favors are well integrated but not overwhelmed by oak. Pure Zinfandel favors of strawberries, raspberries and a hint of dried sage make this wine the perfect match for grilled steak,
smoked brisket and pasta or pizza topped with tomato sauce.
About The Winery:
Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen Mike’s 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.
The Paris Tasting served notice to the world that the California wine industry was on the move, and it laid the groundwork for the creation of Grgich Hills Cellar. After his victory in Paris, Mike sat down with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they gave birth to Grgich Hills. It was an ideal partnership. Austin owned premium vineyards in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley, and with his extensive background in business, he put the winery on its financial feet. Mike, with his fierce commitment to making wines of the highest quality, began producing what immediately became our signature wine: the exquisite, richly complex Chardonnays that win awards and delight wine lovers across America and throughout the world.
Today, we remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity. We are proud that world leaders such as Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand chose our wines to serve at state dinners, but we are just as proud that every single day discriminating wine drinkers count on Grgich Hills to turn their own dinners into special occasions.
As always, we treat each of our six different wines as a special child, carefully nurturing their development and character. Our main pride and joy is our Chardonnay, an elegant example of the varietal displaying rich flavors and exquisite balance. As a complement to the Chardonnay, we also produce a refreshingly crisp Fumé Blanc, a rich and spicy Zinfandel, a Cabernet Sauvignon with tremendous depth and complexity, a lush and richly fragrant Merlot, and a luscious dessert wine named “Violetta,” in honor of Mike’s daughter, Violet.
Now 85 years old, and still sporting his signature blue beret, Mike was inducted into the Vinter Hall of Fame in March 2008 in honor of his many contributions to the wine industry. While many other Napa wineries pursue strategies of expansion, Mike, along with his daughter, Violet, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, prefer to stay small. Their aim, year after year, is to improve the quality of their vineyards and their wines, relying on Mike’s unique artistic and intuitive touch. This strategy continues to pay significant dividends. Many wineries buy their grapes from outside vineyards. Grgich Hills now owns all of its own vineyards, all of which are certified organic and Biodynamic. Beginning with the 2003 vintage, all Grgich Hills wines are labeled “Estate Grown.” This guarantees a consistently superior level of quality, and it guarantees that Grgich Hills will remain a shining symbol of prestige and good taste. In recognition of that important milestone, the winery changed its name in 2007 to Grgich Hills Estate.
Alcohol: 14.7% by volume
Fermentation: indigenous yeast; pressed off skins early to retain fruit character
Harvest date: October 8-10, 2008
Sugar: 25.3˚ Brix (average)
Bottling date: December 14-18, 2009
Release date: Summer 2011
Total acid: 5.7 g/L
Time in oak: 15 months
Type of oak: large French oak casks
Production: 7,621 cases (12/750 ml.); 200 cases (12/375 ml.); 15 cases (6/1.5 L)
Blend: 97% Zinfandel, 3% Petite Sirah