Sausal Winery (closed)
2008 Private Reserve Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Estate Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What We Say
HIGH QPR ALERT:
Today’s wine delivers a quality drinking experience that exceeds its low purchase price, earning it this special QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Alert.
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Mission Codename: Ninety Plus
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Sausal Winery and secure a high-value Old Vine Zinfandel for our Operatives around the world
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Sausal Winery
Wine Subject: 2008 Private Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel, Alexander Valley
Winemaker: Dave Demostene
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. Alexander 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 – Dark ruby red with a brilliant, clear, glinting heart and edging. Both catch the light in a unique way, casting off sparkles of ruby red. At the edge of the glass, a medium width band of pink runs a circle around the wine. Tall, pencil-point fine legs run slowly down the glass after swirling.
Smell – Dusky and dark, with black cherry and brambly blackberry out in front. These are followed by dark raspberry, wild strawberry, dried meats, black pepper and a subtle dried herbal quality.
Feel – Initially cool, this wine quickly becomes plush and grippy, with a crushed Velvet feel that starts at the edges of the palate and works its way gradually inward. After a few moments, a mineral dryness spreads from the center of the palate, out to the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Bold and dark, with black cherry, blackberry, black plum and black currant. As the wine opens, wild strawberry, spiced cherry candy, bramble, crushed dried black flower petals, brown spice, flinty black pepper and a hint of subtle, smoky sweetwoods.
Finish – Very long and filled with red and black fruits which take a long time to fully diminish. As fruit fades, spice, minerals, black pepper and a lovely smoky quality slowly encroach. As the palate drys, spice and pepper remain, making the mouth water – in anticipation of another bold sip.
Conclusion – We’ve had the great fortune to showcase successive vintages of today’s wine. Each year, the wine is a little different. Each year it displays something very unique, as compared to prior vintages. This 2008 Sausal Private Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel, Alexander Valley shows off much more dark fruit than in previous years. That, and the fruit is more natural, more authentic. The wine really benefits from extended decanting and allowing thee wine to breathe for at least 30 minutes will reward you with even tastier fruit. Aromatically, this wine presents just like a classic Old Vine Zin, with plenty of dark fruit, but with a dusty, spicy character that only 90+ year old vines can convey. Pair with your favorite summertime BBQ or enjoy it all on its own. Be sure to stock up, though. Enjoy some this summer, but cellar a few bottles for up to 10 more years. This flexible, evolving wine is built for enjoyment as well as for aging. Highly recommended, terrific price, limited supply – so be sure to act quickly.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Sausal winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The 2008 Private Reserve Zinfandel is made entirely from estate grown grapes. These vines average 90 years old, and impart a rich Zinfandel character indicative of the soil in the eastern foothills of the Alexander Valley. These vines are dry farmed, creating concentrated and abundant fruit; the end result being a big bold Zinfandel.
Due to the well balanced structure of this wine, it will drink well now or continue to impress through the next decade. Enjoy with beef stew, or hearty grilled or roasted dark meats.
About The Winery:
Just outside of Healdsburg on Hwy 128 in the heart of Alexander Valley you will find Sausal Winery, a small family owned winery that produces award winning wine. Owned by the Demostene Family, Sausal Winery consistently produces premium estate bottled Old Vine Zinfandels (Family Zinfandel, Private Reserve Zinfandel, and Century Vine Zinfandel), Estate Sangiovese, and Estate Cabernet at reasonable prices.
The Demostene family history reads like a short course in the history of the Alexander Valley from the turn of the century. In 1901, Manuel Demostene, a native of Genoa Italy, began work on a ranch in the Valley. Soon thereafter, another Italian immigrant Abele Ferrari (pictured left) accepted work at Italian Swiss Colony in nearby Asti.
A mechanical whiz, Ferrari soon purchased the Healdsburg Machine Shop and began manufacturing winemaking equipment. Most notable was the Healdsburg Crusher for which he held 11 patents. During prohibition Abele’s business faltered along with all other wine-related industries.
Abele never lost faith and in 1923, after a steady decline in property values he seized the opportunity to purchase Soda Rock Ranch and Winery in the Alexander Valley. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the enterprising Abele Ferrari completely rebuilt the old stone winery using recycled materials.
Romance brought the first two generations of Italian immigrants together. In 1936, Manuel Demostene’s son, Leo married Abele Ferrari’s daughter, Rose. The young couple established their new home at Soda Rock Winery where Leo took over duties as winemaker.
Leo’s dream was to have a winery of his own one day and in 1956 Leo and Rose took the first step by purchasing Sausal Ranch. A 125 acre property planted to prunes, apples and zinfandel wine
grapes. Many of the original vines were quite old and clearly established prior to the publication of an 1877 atlas of the area.
For old-timers like Leo it was a simple fact of life that the Alexander Valley was best suited for growing red wine grapes. With the help of his four children – Dave, Ed, Peachie and Cindy- scores of acres of new zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon plantings were installed over the next decade. During this time the entire family continued to help their grandfather at Soda Rock Winery aware that the knowledge gained there would be of real benefit someday.
Leo’s dreams of converting an old prune dehydrator into a winemaking facility at Sausal Ranch were not realized before his death in 1973. That same year however, after a remarkable effort from his children Leo’s sogni d’oro, his “golden dream”, was fulfilled.
This brings us to the third generation of this winemaking family. Dave, Ed, Peachie and Cindy have turned their father’s dream into a reality and each play a key role in keeping the dream alive.
Grape: 100% Estate Grown Zinfandel
Age of Vines: Averaging 90 Years Old, Dry-Farmed
Total Acidity: 0.61
Residual Sugar: 0.0
Malolactic Fermentation: 100%
Aging: 20 months French Oak
Release Date: Winter 2010
Aging Potential: 6-9 years from Release Date
Cases Produced: 2,000