2009 Napa Valley Estate Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Calistoga, California
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
WORLD EXCLUSIVE ALERT:
We are the only wine merchant on the planet, today, to be selling this very special wine. You can’t even get any from the winery, itself. Allocated for the Wine Club, later this year, you may never have another opportunity to purchase this wine ever again.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s wine, made by one of our favorite winemaking teams, is so outstanding that it easily earns this special alert. We only showcase wines that we love, but when one really rises above, we issue a special alert.
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Mission Codename: 80 Years Old and 60’ Deep
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Canard Vineyards, and be the first wine merchant – anywhere – to sell their much-anticipated 2009 Zinfandel. Before it is too late, procure an exclusive allotment for our Operatives, as the winery sells out each year.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Canard Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2009 Napa Valley Zinfandel
Winemaker: Brian Graham
Backgrounder: In the 1980’s, when Rich & Caroline Czapleski purchased what are now Canard’s estate vineyard, they hired a vineyard manager to tell them what to do with the existing, ancient Zinfandel vines. It was his opinion that they should be torn out to make room for Cabernet Sauvignon, the up and coming grape of the region. Soon after this advice, Rich received a phone call from… Robert Mondavi. Mister Mondavi, on hearing that the vines were to be replaced, sternly advised that the Zinfandel vines be left to keep producing the exceptional fruit that Mondavi Winery had been purchasing from the vineyard for so many years. A little while later, none other than Joseph Phelps called, making the same appeal. The Zinfandel vines saved, they keep producing fruit – in very low volume but very extraordinary quality. These ancient vines, which produce less than three tons of fruit per acre, have roots that go down at least 60 feet.
Varietal 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. The Calistoga AVA (American Viticultural Area), at the northern end of Napa Valley’s fabled Silverado Trail, is home to some of of our favorite Zinfandels. Today’s exclusive wine easily joins the ranks.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Gorgeous burgundy edges deepen to a dark ruby red toward the center of the glass. After swirling the wine, tall, skinny columns of clear tears move slowly downward.
Smell – Black cherry, raspberry, leather and spice jump to greet you on the nose. Blackberry, dark chocolate, berry bramble, subtle violet and black pepper follow behind.
Feel – Initially soft, but quickly the wine grows on the palate, growing in dimension as plush tannins work their magic. A bright acidity serves to juxtapose the tannins, while driving fruit to the far corners of the palate. Gradually, a spreading dryness makes its way to the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Bright and juicy, dark and balanced, with equal parts fruit and lush earthiness. Black cherry and blackberry are out in front, here, with bramble, dried dark flower petals, soft spice, dark chocolate and black currant giving way to leather, smoked meat and black pepper.
Finish – Super long and bursting with dark fruit, this wine sustains its dark fruit and earthen flavors for a very long time. At the tail end, dried dark flowers, leather and pepper persist long after the fruit has faded.
Conclusion – This is another extraordinary offering from our dear friends at Canard Vineyard! Dark, lush and bursting with dark fruit and earthy goodness, this wine is very aromatic and very delicious. This is an important wine, given its rich history and remarkable quality. There is great balance, great depth and great energy to this wine. Made from vines that are near the century mark, the fruit is vibrant, deep and complex. This, from older vines, can be a rarity. Pair this bright, food-friendly Zinfandel with grilled lamb or a hearty, spice rubbed steak. And, just to be clear, this wine gets our heartiest recommendation.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Brian Graham
WINE EDUCATION: University of Bordeaux; Wine & Spirits Educational Trust: London; Napa Valley College
WINE JOB BRIEF: Winemaker
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Allow the vineyard and the grapes that come off the vineyard to shine with minimal intervention in the winery. Use classic winemaking techniques and the best barrels to complement the wines”
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Its really all about the vineyards”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1999
AGENT RED: Greetings, Brian. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Canard Estate Napa Valley Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BRIAN GRAHAM: Hey, Red. As usual, it’s great to be on another mission with you.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BRIAN: Yes, a 1963 Dow port. It was monumental, the light came on that night.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BRIAN: Really my first love has always been classic Bordeaux. Always remaining true to tradition it sure is refreshing to see in this day and age.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
BRIAN: I make my wines for wine enthusiasts that enjoy big, classic, elegant and age worthy reds.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BRIAN: Yes, our 2009 Canard Estate Zinfandel. This wine is 100% Zinfandel from some of the oldest vines in the Napa Valley. Our youngest block is 80 years old and goes up from there. We have one block that is over 120 years old. This vineyard completely dry farmed which concentrates the intensity of the fruit and creates an enormous about of complexity and structure in the wine. The old vines yield roughly half of what the younger vines yield but what you get is a more elegant wine unlike so many of the over the top jammy wines that most people associate with Zins. This wine is so food friendly, you will actually be able to taste your food and your wine.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BRIAN: I love this wine with lamb, hard cheeses, rich pasta sauces and of course my favorite, grilled steak.
RED: In your opinion, what makes your estate vineyard such a special place for Zinfandel?
BRIAN: The climate. Calistoga is the warmest end of the Napa Valley. And Zin loves the heat. But this vineyard also has great air circulation which cools the grapes in the late afternoon. It’s really the most perfect place in all of Napa to grow grapes for a world class Zinfandel.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BRIAN: Getting ready to bottle the 2010 vintage. Then the wines will age another year in the bottle before we release them.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
*WINEMAKER: With a corkscrew and a glass. No seriously, wine should be enjoyed. I hope your with family and friends having a good time when your pulling the cork out.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
WINEMAKER: Come visit us or send us and email. We are always here and looking forward to sharing our passion with you.
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 Canard Vineyard winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
On the nose and upon entry the wine is a seamless transition of rich ripe red fruits with rose petals with exotic spices and hints of sage. The mid-palate leads into a full bodied, dry mouth full of ripe red cherries and plums followed by briary black fruits and red currant. The finish is very long and soft with rich, bold structure and tannin complemented hints of vanilla bean and campfire smoke.
VINEYARDS & WINEMAKING: Our winemaker, Brian Graham, believes that the vineyard is absolutely the most important factor when creating a wine. “For me, it’s the vineyard that creates the quality and a wine’s uniqueness. Really it’s all about the vineyards.”
Situated just South of Calistoga on the Silverado Trail, this sustainably farmed vineyard has short cool mornings and evenings with long very warm days. Deficit irrigation and traditional head-trained trained vines high above the soil allows for a constant breeze to flow through the vineyard. This environment yields the qualities most prized among Napa Valley fruit.
After picking, the grapes were sorted and de-stemmed into a fermentation tank where they rested and soaked for 2 days. After a warm fermentation the wine was pressed off of the skins immediately and placed in barrel for its malolatic fermentation. Aged in only French Oak barrels for 19 months with neither fining nor filtering.
About The Winery:
WELCOME TO CANARD VINEYARD: Our vineyard is located at the top of Napa Valley just south of the town of Calistoga. And home to the newest AVA (American Viticultural Area).
One of the newest boutique wineries, 25 years in the making…..
Over 25 years ago, Rich and Carolyn Czapleski purchased the historic Reason P. Tucker Vineyard dating back to 1860.
In 1983 the Czapleski’s started what is now Canard Vineyard, but it was not until the crush of 2006 that they began to create wines exclusively from their vineyard. Rich and Carolyn along with their talented winemaker, Brian Graham, have come together to create unique wines from this fabled vineyard. We hope you agree.
THE CZAPLESKI RANCH: Rich and Carolyn Czapleski have owned Canard Vineyard and Czapleski Ranch for 25 years. They purchased the vineyard and home in 1983 as a weekend getaway. At first, they did not even realize they could sell the 22 acres of grapes, but when word got out that they were thinking of replanting a 6 acre section of Old Vine Zinfandel – the phone calls started. Wineries called wanting to purchase the grapes and urging the Czapleski’s to keep the Old Heritage Zinfandel Vines intact. Most of these vines are well over 100 years old.
Over the years they have been able to nurture the old vines and plant Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc on the remaining acres. For 24 years Ravenswood has purchased the Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and the rest of the grapes have found a home at Mondavi. During that time, Joel Peterson at Ravenswood has made a small amount of special reserve for the Czapleski’s under their Canard label which has been enjoyed by their friends, family and a few restaurants. The name Canard comes from Rich’s nickname-“Duck” – French for duck.
With the vintage of 2006, they decided to try their hands at producing the wines they love to drink. At the 2006 Napa Valley Wine Auction they met winemaker Brian Graham and liked the styles of his hand crafted wines. Brian then joined forces with the Czapleski’s. Since they are so small, they can oversee all aspects of winemaking offering Estate Napa Valley wines at a great value. Their son, Adam, has now started taking over some of the vineyard operations and giving his input into the winemaking.
BRIAN GRAHAM – THE WINEMAKER: The Czapleski’s went looking for a winemaker who could take their philosophy of terrior-driven wines from Napa Valley and produce a balanced wine at a great price. An Estate Napa Valley wine you could afford to drink everyday and that could age for many years to come.
Brian Graham is formally educated in enology at the University of Bordeaux and at The Wine and Spirits Educational Trust in London. He apprenticed at wineries in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Napa Valley. Settling in Napa Valley he now has his own label – Ramian. These experiences have given him the foundation for balanced, terrior-driven wines that can be produced in small lots. He is taking small blocks of Czapleski Vineyard grapes individually blending these lots on a barrel by barrel tasting.
SUSTAINABLE FARMING: The small vineyard offers sustainable farming with and an organic approach. It uses deficit irrigation which allows the vines to create intense wines with depth and focus. The partnership of the Czapleski’s and Brian Graham work toward one common goal in mind to create wines that showcase this exceptional vineyard while remaining respectful of their surroundings.
Appellation: Napa Valley – Calistoga, California
Fermentation: Cold Soaked 4 days prior to fermentation
Aging: 19 months in French Oak (20% New)
Cooperages: Nadalie, Saury. Demptos
Varietals: 100% Zinfandel – 100-120 Year Old Vines
Cases Produced: 155