Starry Night Winery

2008 Alexander Valley Zinfandel 'The Caboose'

Zinfandel •Nervo Station Vineyard

California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley

Offer Expired:Apr 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm
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What We Say


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Mission Codename: The Night Caboose

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: After more than a one year absence from our pages, return to Operative favorite, Starry Night Winery. Operatives have been clamoring for a big, juicy and delicious Alexander Valley Zinfandel, worthy of their exacting tastes. Secure the maximum allotment of their newest Caboose Zinfandel.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Starry Night Winery

Wine Subject: 2008 The Caboose Zinfandel

Winemaker: Todd Graff

Winery 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. Napa Valley Zinfandels, which are characterized by their big, extracted flavors, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep ruby hues, with solid coloration from core to the edge of the glass. After swirling this pretty wine, two levels of thin, wine-colored tears move slowly down the glass. After this first unique round of tears falls, a third round appears higher up on the glass wall, before crawling slowly downward.

Smell – Dark and lush with a heady rush of spiced black cherry candy, blackberry, raspberry and sweet red plum. When the wine opens up, after some hearty swirling, it brings forth dried fall leaves, cracked light leather, blueberry, Bing cherry, soft spice and black pepper.

Feel – Initially light and soft, the wine gains a little weight and complexity as it settles onto the palate. Ripe tannins and a medium bright acidity frame the fruit beautifully. Gradually, the wine gains some texture and takes on a softly dry, softly chewy texture.

Taste – Dark and super delicious with bold dark mixed berries. Blackberry, spiced cherry take the lead. These are followed by dark strawberry, bramble, dried green tobacco leaf, dusty earth, dried fall leaves, brown spice and a hint of black pepper at the end.

Finish – Black and red fruit flavors linger for a very long time, gradually giving way to complex earthy notes with lovely hints of spice and pepper that punctuate the ending. A softly dry and softly chewy feel persist after the fruit and spice have faded.

Conclusion – Oh, how we’ve missed Starry Night Winery. Our Operatives went absolutely bonkers for the 2007 vintage of this wine, but today’s 2008 The Caboose Zinfandel is so much better. On first sniff, we could tell we’d love this wine, and as it opened up, it really began to shine. Aromas became far fuller and more rich, with a more authentic quality to the fruit. On the palate, ripe tannins and the balanced acids drive lush fruit to the far corners of the mouth. This juicy wine is balanced, delicious and just plain fun to drink. Starry Night continues to impresses us. Known particularly for their Zinfandels, today’s wine is a shining example of their winemaking prowess.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

BIG – Yes, this is a big wine, you know, big as in like “The Caboose”.

This wine is deep and complex with ripe, rich, fruit driven dark stone fruit aromas and flavors of black cherries and plum with a hint of cassis on the finish.

As you walk this vineyard, Nervo Station Vineyard in the Alexander Valley, you crest a fairly steep hill, and there it is, in your face, a retired Santa Fe Railroad caboose!!

Ed Nervo, whose family originally purchased the Nervo Ranch in the 1890s, grew up on his family’s winery on the Northwestern Pacific main line and fell in love with railroads and all things railroad related. He somehow was able to move the caboose up the hill; where it stands today.

About The Winery:

Starry Night Winery became a bonded winery in 1999 and our first commercially available wines were introduced in November of 2000. The story of how we came into existence though starts many years earlier when the four of us, Wayne Hansen, Bruce Walker, Mike Miller and Skip Granger started making wine at an amateur level. Our motivation for this came from a shared life long passion for wine and an increasing disdain for the over priced and often mass-produced wines found in the market.

In our first year we crushed several hundred pounds of grapes and produced about fifty cases of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in Wayne’s basement. This worked well since with his food processing background, Wayne was destined to become our winemaker. By combining the best of both new and traditional methods we found that we could make outstanding wine. We also spent time researching wine making methods, taking classes at UC Davis and received the advice of some very helpful commercial winemakers.

We are excited to announce that as of December, 2006, Nimrod Kovacs, a citizen of Hungary and the US, joined the management team of Starry Night Winery. Mr. Kovacs has a substantial background in both domestic and international marketing, communications, advertising and management. He has also been instrumental in the growth of cable and satellite media delivery in Eastern and Central Europe. Nimrod is the owner of Monarchia Winery of Eger, Hungary, the new sister winery of Starry Night Winery! You can learn more about Monarchia Winery in the Newsletter section or in the Links & Associations section of the website.

At Starry Night Winery, our goal is to produce the finest wines possible that accentuate the regions from where the grapes are best grown. We currently produce Chardonnay, Syrah and Zinfandels from the Russian River Valley, a Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley, Zinfandel from Amador and Lake Counties and Zinfandel and Rhone varietals from the Lodi appellation. In 2006 we also produced a Petite Sirah from the Lodi appellation and a Cabernet Franc from High Valley which will be released during 2007.

Many people ask us why we are in Novato and what kind of grapes do we grow there? Well; we don’t grow any grapes. What we do is find the best grapes and growers that allow us to produce the finest wines. We have now worked with one of our growers for nine harvests and two of our growers for six harvests. We have added seveal new growers in the last three years and we are very excited about sharing our new wines and new releases with you!


Our primary focus at Starry Night Winery is Zinfandel, which accounts for over 60% of our production. We think Zinfandel, which is uniquely American, is not only a great wine, but also offers a significant value when compared to many other grape varietals. In 2001 we became a member of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP), which promotes Zinfandel education worldwide. Bruce currently serves as Vice President of ZAP and is a member of ZAP’s Board of Directors.

We are also excited by Rhone varietals, which we believe are making significant gains in popularity. We make a Russian River Syrah, and in 2001 introduced our Adara, which is a blend of wines made from grapes found in the Rhone region of France. Because we love Chardonnay, we also produce a barrel fermented, 100% malolactic, and well balanced Chardonnay.


The vastness of Sonoma County with its diverse climate and topography allows growers to produce grapes for distinct wines from the same grape variety. Various areas are known by Appellations. Appellations reflect unique climate, soil and other conditions which tend to produce wines unique to those areas.

With the best combination of natural resources and climate, Starry Night Winery’s key viticulture philosophy is to maintain a small berry size to more concentrated fruit. Our grapes realize bud break often several weeks earlier than other Sonoma Country Wineries, promoting a longer growing season. The rocky soils, comprised of silt loam on top of broken shifts allow the vineyards to deplete water early in the season so there is greater concentration in the berry by the time of harvest.

Our viticulture practices also reflect our desire to put forth optimal flavor in all of our wines. These practices sophisticated trellising system, over cropping early in the season then thinning later in the season to contribute to pH and acid balance and promote higher skin surface to grape ratio.

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: 100% Alexander Valley Zinfandel


Harvest Date:

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TA: g/100ml

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