2007 Estate Vineyard Zinfandel
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
We are blessed, today, to bring you another fantastic Zinfandel from our dear friends at Ottimino. This wine comes from the fabled 2007 Vintage, which Robert Parker, Jr. rated a walloping 96 Points (for Northern California Reds). When we feature a wine that we are really crazy about, we issue these alerts.
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Mission Codename: Eights full of Aces
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Ottimino, a smash hit with our Zinfandel-loving Operatives. This time around, secure a stash of their 2007 Estate Zinfandel, a stunning wine from the best vintage on record in 10 years (96-Points, Robert Parker, Jr.).
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Ottimino
Wine Subject: 2007 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 – Dark ruby hues, throughout, with a clear and slightly darker core. After spinning the wine, tall, thin, wine-colored legs move slowly down the glass.
Smell – Full and bursting with dark fruit, this wine presents lush blackberry, black cherry and brambly raspberry out in front. As thee wine opens up, it also reveals cocoa, leather, Bing cherry, black plum and softly toasted oak.
Feel – Velvet-smooth on entry and then grippy and plush with a light crushed velvet feel that leads to a soft spreading dryness that begins at the edges of the palate, and then spreads inward.
Taste – Black cherry, blackberry, smoky plum, bramble, braised mission fig and forest jam take center stage, presenting as sweet at the front of the palate and then deliciously, mouthwateringly tart at the mid-palate. After spinning the wine for a spell, it opens up, revealing softly toasted oak, dark strawberry, black pepper and hints of fresh herbs, dark leather and forest jam.
Finish – Medium-long with dark fruit gradually yielding to earthen flavors of dried leaves, minerals and black pepper.
Conclusion – Welcome back, Ottimino! We always love Ottimino’s Zin’s. So, too, do our Operatives, who snap them up in record numbers. Ottimino Zinfandels are among our most popular and today’s wine reminds us why; Ottimino lives Zinfandel, making it their focus – and their passion. Today’s 2007 Ottimino Zinfandel comes from the winery’s own Ottimino Vineyard, in the Russian River Valley. This wine is smooth, delicious and abundant. Somewhat austere at first, this wine comes to life as you swirl and swirl in the glass. We prefer this approach to decanting, as you get to experience the transformation that the wine undergoes. Shy and a little reserved, in the beginning, flavors and aromas are enhanced with every spin. Delicious all on its own, we paired ours with a warm spinach salad with truffle oil, goat cheese – and a fried egg on top!
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
92 Points & Editor’s Choice – Wine Enthusiast – “Classic Russian River Zinfandel. The vineyard is in the Green Valley, and the wine has the wonderful attributes of ripeness, dryness, and acidity, without high alcohol. It’s enormously flavorful delivering waves of blackberries, cherries, cola, red licorice, bacon, black pepper and sweet oak. A gorgeous Zin showing class and elegance.”
About This Wine:
Black plum, bramble and ripe raspberry aromas dominate, with hints of black pepper, cherries and licorice chiming in. The wine’s entry introduces a complex array of flavors, adding boysenberry and vanilla to the mix. A broad mid-palate leads to a wine of tremendous body, round tannins and persistent finish. The wine’s concentration makes it ideal for meals ranging from Salmon and other hearty fish dishes, to more robust roasted poultry and meats.
VINEYARD: Planted in 2001, the Ottimino vineyard is owned by Brad Alper, an airline pilot by trade, and now gentleman farmer. The vineyards were planted and then grafted with budwood sourced from Lytton Springs Vineyard, Von Weidlich Vineyard, and Rancho Bello Vineyard. At an altitude of 800’, this part of the Russian River Valley remains cool in contrast to Dry Creek Valley, yet receives more sun than lowland Green Valley. Thus producing fruit forward robust wines without the high alcohols that normally accompany zinfandels.
VINTAGE: In the nearly ideal 2007 vintage, bud break in the Ottimino Vineyard was a bit earlier than Rancho Bello and Von Weidlich Vineyards, and its youthful vigor supported both an extensive canopy and an abundance of fruit. Numerous passes were required to bring the vines into balance, and by late summer the final thinning for green and raisined fruit left full, evenly ripened clusters of loosely packed, deep purple berries.
WINEMAKING: We crushed the hand-picked fruit into small half-ton fermenters, and allowed a two day cold soak to extract color and tannins before to fermenting with a Rhone yeast strain. The bins were punched down three to five times daily to maximize extraction. The wine went dry after 21 days, at which time it was pressed off directly to barrels. Malolactic fermentation 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!
Appellation: Russian River Valley.
Harvest Date: 9/28/07
Aging: 20 months in 35% new oak.
Bottling Date: 7/29/09
Residual Sugar: 0.08%