What We Say 2009 Mounts Vineyard Zinfandel
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Mission Codename: Above the World
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to James Family Cellars and secure an ample allocation of their prized, limited-production (just 75 cases), 2009 Mounts Vineyard Zinfandel, a delicious Dry Creek Valley wine from one of our favorite vineyard source.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: James Family Cellars
Wine Subject: 2009 Mounts Vineyard Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley
Winemaker: Terry Adams
Backgrounder: Today’s Zinfandel hails from the Mounts Vineyard is Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. The Dry Creek Valley across the Russian River from Alexander Valley has a generally cooler and wetter climate which makes the growing season longer and more flexible than neighboring appellations. Zinfandels from this AVA are dark, rich and layered.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest ruby red hues, with a heart of darker garnet. At the edge of the glass, a band of magenta encircles the wine. After swirling, tall, skinny, wine-stained tears take a long time to form, before moving very slowly down the glass.
Smell – Lush and fragrant, with an bold rush of blackberry, black cherry, raspberry and sweet Bing cherry. These are followed by, aromas of blackberry bramble, dark chocolate, brown spice, dried tobacco, cracked leather, cured meats, dried violets, cracked pepper and a hint savory sage.
Feel – Soft and plush, then the wine becomes softly grippy, with plush tannins giving the wine a crushed velvet feel that spreads all around the palate. A lively acidity frames the fruit, transporting rich flavors all around the palate.
Taste – Dark blackberry, tart black plum, black raspberry, black cherry, sweet brown spice and sweet black tea leaf. As the wine opens up, it reveals hard cracked leather, black pepper, braised mission fig, black pepper, flint and a hint of dried violets.
Finish – Ultra long and plush with sustained black fruit that gradually yields to earthy flavors, spice, cracked pepper and dried violets at the tail end.
Conclusion – Today’s exquisite 2009 James Family Cellars Mounts Vineyard Zinfandel is dark, delicious and beautifully balanced wine. With deep aromatics and layers of lush flavor, this wine represent a real double header with James Family Cellars making wine from one of favorite vineyard sources, Mounts Vineyard. This 2009 is youthful and bright and so ready to enjoy, but we predict greatness for this wine as it gains even just a bit more bottle aging. This very food-friendly Zinfandel get our hearty Wine Spies recommendation.
* GRAPE GROWER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER*
SUBJECT: Jeff James
FARMING EDUCATION: U.C. Davis – Agricultural Science & Management degree
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF:
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Start with good grapes, then don’t mess them up.
GRAPE GROWER QUOTE: “You want to know how to make a small fortune in farming?… you start with a large fortune.”
FIRST HARVEST AT STONY POINT VINEYARD: September, 2000
WINERY OWNER INTERVIEW
AGENT RED: Greetings, Jeff. It’s great to be showcasing your wine again. We are thrilled to be showing your 2010 Sonoma Coast Chardonay today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
JEFF JAMES: Thank you so much. We’re happy to be back with you and your Operatives, once again.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
JEFF: My friends at U.C. Davis would occasionally bring the wines that they were making from their vineyards at home. Some were really good… some were not.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
JEFF: Our ’09 Mounts Vineyard Zinfandel is a classic representation of what Dry Creek Valley Zin can be, but in a very limited release. Unfortunately, we were only able to make 75 cases of this delicious vintage and its almost gone… I’ll be sad to see it go!
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JEFF: This summer we’ve really been enjoying this Zinfandel with food from the grill. A particularly popular combination was barbecued pork ribs, grilled eggplant and this Zin.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Mounts Family Vineyard such a special place for Zinfandel?
JEFF: Of course the climate and the soil in that part of the Dry Creek Valley are ideally suited to growing Zinfandel, but the Mounts Family’s decades of winegrape farming experience in that location really enhance the quality of the fruit.
RED: What is occupying your time in the vineyard these days?
JEFF: We’re getting ready to bottle so we can make room in the winery for this year’s fruit. By the way, the weather has been next to perfect so far this year, so I think we’re in for a very high-quality 2012 vintage.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
JEFF: The next time you enjoy a glass of wine or a bite of food, try to remember to honor the farmer that produced it for you. Cheers!
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 location of the James Family Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
James Family Cellars
About This Wine:
Bright hints of strawberry and plum rise up to entice your senses as you smell this wine. Your first taste is reminiscent of strawberry rhubarb pie with a hint of spiciness… and cherries. Is there such a thing as cherry-strawberry rhubarb pie? That’s what this delicious wine reminds us of. This zinfandel remains bright on the palate and isn’t handicapped by the high alcohol levels that some of its peers have become known for. A nice, balanced finish leaves you with a pleasant reminder of the tart cherry that rounded out this delightfully food-friendly wine. Only 75 cases produced!
About The Winery:
Owners Jeff and Judy James, along with their two sons who are 4th generation Sonoma County agriculturalists, founded James Family Cellars. James Family Cellars is a family-owned boutique winery that is dedicated to the production of artisinal wines that showcase the world-class grapes that they grow. Jeff and Judy planted their vineyard in 1998. They have been selling grapes for many years to premium wineries in Sonoma and Napa Counties. After winning several awards for the amateur wines they produced from their grapes, they decided in 2007 to follow their dreams and start James Family Cellars. Jeff and Judy are committed to the highest quality, which is reflected in the limited number of cases released.
James Family Cellars is dedicated to reaching the pinnacle of what Pinot Noir can be—a marvelously aromatic and flavorful wine. We are committed to quality and this is reflected in the limited number of cases released.
This is a family enterprise, involving our two sons and other family members. We are all involved and dedicated to the same goals. We enjoy being part of our region’s agricultural and wine businesses and strive to always produce wines which delight our customers.
Single Vineyard Pinot Noir:
From the vineyard to the cellar, our goal is to craft wines that are a delight to drink and a distinct expression of our vineyard. This ensures that our site’s singular “fingerprint” is revealed in the wine that we ultimately present to our customers.
Location and Climate – Stony Point Vineyard, our home site on which our James Family Cellars Zinfandel is grown, is situated on a gently sloping parcel of nearly 10 acres in the rolling hills of western Sonoma County. The region’s cool maritime climate is balanced by our vineyard’s south facing exposure, providing us with ultimate hang time. As a result, our grapes ripen slowly and evenly with tremendous balance of sugar, acid and flavors.
Design and Farming – Our vineyard’s specific row orientation, which mirrors the slope of the land, maximizes sunlight exposure, maintains natural soil profiles and provides us with better access to the vines for lower impact farming. In partnership with our vineyard managers, Steve and Joe Dutton, we practice a variety of sustainable farming techniques aimed at maximizing vine health and fruit quality. Canopy management is critical for proper sun exposure, while leaf pulling maintains open air flow and reduces the need for spraying. Crop thinning throughout the growing season concentrates flavors and ensures full ripening. Since we are located within the Russian River watershed, we are committed to fish friendly farming practices including the use of cover crops, drip irrigation and alternate row tilling to prevent erosion and run off.
Sustainable Farming – Sustainable agriculture is an alternative system of farming based upon resource conservation and quality of life to the surrounding environment and its inhabitants. The three most common indicators that appear in definitions of sustainable agriculture are: environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially acceptable. In this context, sustainable agriculture embraces all agricultural systems striving to meet these criteria. Such practices require a high degree of management of biological resources, and a firm commitment to long-term sustainable growth.
Vineyard: Mounts Vineyard
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley
Winemaker: Terry Adams