What We Say 2005 Zinfandel Old Vine
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes even better than that, as is the case with today’s wine from Judd’s Hill.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
We always feature great wines, but today’s wine is a wonderfully delicious Zinfandel – and Agent Red’s favorite zin so far this year!. Grab some, Operative, before we run out
Secret Savings Alert!
Ground Shipping Included plus an additional 5% off when you buy 6 bottles or more. Enter this coupon code at checkout (discount will be shown before you complete your order): SPYZIN
Mission Codename: Music to our lips
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Investigate reports that Zinfandel from Lodi, California, are among the best produced in 2005. If a superior example is located, secure an ample allotment for our Zin-thirsty Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Judd’s Hill
Wine Subject: 2005 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel
Winemaker: Art Finkelstein
Backgrounder: Read our greedy agent’s tasting report below, followed by his mission report
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep red-purple in color, with great clarity and deep concentration of color right to the wines glittering edges, with a very bouncy surface and super-thin, tightly-packed legs that streak down the glass
Smell – Dark and concentrated with deep concentrated jammy fruit of mixed dark blackberry, pronounced ripe raspberry, dark and smoky blueberry with a subtle hint of black pepper
Feel – Soft, full, velvety, smooth, rich and round, this wine has a superb feel! Initially wet and fast, the wine eventually takes hold, coating the mouth and lips with a slightly dry and chewy goodness
Taste – Intense but wholly balanced layers of rich flavors that reflect the nose, with pronounced fresh fruit and a slight smoky dark cherry and mild spice
Finish – Big and tasty, flavorful and delicious, with flavors that really linger, plus supple tannins that add a hint of dryness and keep the flavors going strong for a long interval
Conclusion – Holy WOW! This is one wonderful wine, and I declare it to be my new favorite Zinfandel! With a few years of bottle-age this wine is drinking beautifully, with a smoothness and flavors that suggest that it will only get better with age. This is a wine of perfect balance with all of its qualities playing together in perfect harmony.
It was the end of a very long day – and I was dog tired. I had been on a mission in Napa Valley that took way longer that I had anticipated and I still had to drive to Monterey County for an early morning surveillance.
I decided to stop in San Francisco for dinner and parked near my favorite Thai restaurant, only to find that it had closed for remodeling. Just great.
It was dark, I was feeling glum and I had no idea where to eat. I moped back toward my car and, as I was getting in, heard the thin sound of music coming from a nearby alley. Even though I could not quite make it out over the sounds of the street, it had a lively feel to it and I found myself drawn toward it.
As I neared the building that the sweet sounds emanated from , the music became clearer. It was Hawaiian music. Hapa haole Hawaiian music, actually. A great vintage sound, with ukulele and steel guitar and happy vocals. My spirits lifted. That is, until a wall of a man blocked me from entering the building. I looked up… and up… and up some more. A very serious looking Polynesian stared down at me.
“Private party, sir, sorry”, he siad in the deepest voice I had ever heard.
Before I could answer, a voice from behind me in the alleyway called out, “Its okay, Pea, he’s with me.”
I turned to see a cardboard box being thrust into my arms. Obviously a case of wine, I went along with this young stranger and followed him inside. He motioned me to set the case down among several other cases of wine. Each box was labeled with “Judd’s Hill” and “2005 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel”.
I set the box down and the smiling stranger extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Judd.”
Judd’s Hill. Judd.
He saw me looking from the wine to him and said, “Yup, my family’s winery! You like wine?”
Needless to say, the rest of the evening was filled with frivolity, great Zinfandel, cool music, fantastic food and great people.
After watching Judd (grape grower, winemaker, musician, performer and artist) and his group, The Maikai Gents Featuring The Mysterious Miss Mauna Loa, perform, Judd told me all about his winemaking family and their artisanal ways.
The evening was just what the Spy Doctor ordered and the Zinfandel struck me as the best I had tasted all year. Right there at the party, Judd agreed to devoting an allocation to our Operatives. My bad-day-turned-great-evening is your reward, dear Operative. Today’s wine is sweet music to your lips!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Judd’s Hill winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
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About This Wine:
This is our first vintage of Zinfandel and we are thrilled with the outcome! Our 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel is full of rich blackberry and raspberry fruit, with wisps of black pepper, a hallmark of old-vine zinfandel. Aging in slightly used French oak barrels imparts a subtle accent of vanilla spice and allows the supple fruit tannins to blend nicely with the soft wood tannins.
Our stylistic vision was to make a balanced Zinfandel that is both fruit forward and food friendly. To achieve this style it was important for us to subdue the high sugars present at harvest. We de-stemmed whole berries prior to fermentation to preserve the fruit forward nature of the varietal. We then cold soaked the must for 4 days before inoculating with yeast, as another means of promoting the up-front fruitiness. Our Zinfandel is aged for 9 months in mostly used French oak barrels to soften and impart a subtle spiced nuance.
Zinfandel and barbecue is a match made in heaven and our 2005 Zinfandel is no exception to this long held wine rule. But there’s more to pair with this wine than grilled meats. The balanced fruit and light-handed oak treatment make our Zinfandel a chameleon when it comes to food pairings. We recommend that you think outside the box and fully enjoy the versatility that this wine has to offer. From spicy Indian curries, to Pizza with the works, our Old Vine Zinfandel makes a great accompaniment to many full-flavored meals.
About The Winery:
Artisanal. Small. Hands on. Family. Nestled in the Napa Valley. These are the hallmarks of Judd’s Hill Winery, the life work of Art and Bunnie Finkelstein and their son Judd and his wife Holly.
Art has been a winemaker for more than 30 years, beginning in his garage in Los Angeles when he worked as an architect during the day. He rethought his life and brought his family to the Napa Valley in the 1970s to found Whitehall Lane Winery in St. Helena. When that grew too large, they built Judd’s Hill, where the family focuses on making less than 3,000 cases a year of hand-crafted, ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Syrah.
Napa Valley visitors and friends know the Finkelsteins’ domain to overflow with a hugely personal mix of interests and talents, from Judd’s ukulele playing to Holly’s hula dancing to Art’s pottery and cooking and Bunnie’s love of poetry, tuba-playing and knitting. This array of art and the arts may be unique among Napa Valley winemaking families. “The process of winemaking is extraordinary in my experience,” Art says. “It has to be the most complex and challenging of all art forms. I am amazed by it.”
Special Designation: Old Vine
Composition: 100% Zinfandel
Vineyards: Cranston Brothers old vine vineyard, Lodi 75 year-old vines
Soils: Alluvial Riverside from the banks of the Mokolumne River. The Mokolumne River (pronounced “Mo-kwal-um-nee”) is one of the major rivers that flow west out of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.
Harvest Date: September 29, 2005
Fermentation: Open-top stainless steel tanks
Oak Aging: 9 months in once used French oak barrels
Brix at Harvest: 26.1º
Bottling Date: July 5th, 2006
Production: 125 cases