2004 "Shenandoah Valley" Zinfandel
California: Amador County
What We Say
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 Bonneau Wines.
Mission Codename: The Gold Rush
Objective: Return to Bonneau Wines, a Wine Spies Operative favorite, and procure a stellar summer wine, suitable for BBQ pairing
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Bonneau Wines
Wine Subject: 2004 ‘Shenandoah Valley’ Zinfandel
Winemaker: John Bambury
The Shenandoah Valley in California’s Amador County Gold Country was rescued from obscurity thanks to the fantastic Zinfandel that is grown in the region. There are over 2,000 acres of planted grape varieties in the region and it gained formal appellation status in 1983. The region boasts over 16 ‘local’ wineries as well as vineyards for many other California wineries
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple and deep garnet with excellent clarity (not at all inky) with pinkish-garnet edges and long slow slender legs demonstrating a slightly thick viscosity.
Smell – Bold and profound, with blackberries, spicy black pepper, herbaceous green pepper, baking spices and hints of licorice.
Feel – Smooth and dry with a spiciness that hits you on the tip of your tongue, firm and solid tannins, with a slightly thick and fatty feel that coats the entire palate.
Taste – Well integrated, concentrated and juicy black fruit, tart plums with layers of medium oak, green pepper, spicy black pepper and licorice.
Finish – This wine finishes medium sweet, with its flavors lingering on the palate, inviting another sip (or in our case gulp).
Conclusion – The 2004 Bonneau Shenandoah Valley Zinfandel is true to its varietal characteristics and at the price, is an exceptional QPR value. Lovers of Zinfandel will naturally enjoy this wine as well as more casual wine drinkers as its got all the Zin qualities we love, but it doesn’t hit you over the head, making drinking this wine very enjoyable. This wine is perfect for pairing with your most creative grilled meats or a simple, but perfect, cheese-burger.
Today’s mission was a simple one. Since you loved the Bonneau Chardonnay that we brought you recently (you did pick some up before we ran out, riiiight?), we called in to our winery contact and asked them for a perfect summer BBQ wine. Instantly, today’s great Shenandoah Valley Zinfandel was offered up.
I have found that only a handful of red wines can stand up to the rigors presented by typical American BBQ fare. Most are overpowered by grilled meats, coleslaw, potato salad or more exotic offerings. And while I have found a few Zins that stand up well, today’s wine pairs with them all.
John and his crew are great folks and we applaud their great juice! With today’s wine, dear Operative, you have struck (purple) gold.
In case you missed it, what follows was our original Bonneau mission report:
You would think that I would finally get it through my thick skull that there really are such things as great white wines. With Central Command sending me on more and more white wine missions, I certainly am exposed to some remarkable whites.
Maybe I am being too true to my name, but I continue to resist. Today’s wine may finally drive it into my thick skull that there are white wines that are interesting enough to please even me.
John Bambury is part of that rare American breed who has generations of winemaking in his blood. His family, originally from the bordeaux region of France, settled in Sonoma county in the 1920s, where they farmed a small parcel of land, growing grapes for prestigious wineries in Napa and Sonoma. In 2002, John created his own winery and today he makes wonderful wines. Even those white ones that please even me!
I enjoyed this wine with the unusual pairing of British pubb-style Baked Beans on Toast. You know what? It totally worked and the combination was a delicious surprise! John recommends a more traditional pairing of light pasta, poultry and veal or brie and crackers. I suspect that this wine, with its balanced acids and brightness, would work with almost any pairing. Let me know what you try this wine with!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The Shenandoah Valley region can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
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Award & Accolades:
BEST IN CLASS 2006 – Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition
SILVER MEDAL WINNER 2007 – San Francisco Chronicle
Wine Competition. The largest wine competition of American Wines in the world!
About This Wine:
Bonneau Zinfandel is produced from grapes grown on the warm and gently rolling knolls of Shenandoah Valley in Amador County (located approximately halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park). It is a classic rendition of the varietal, and an exemplary representative of this region. The wine shows a deep purple-ruby hue accompanied by fragrant suggestions of blackberries, dark plums, raspberries and cassis with supporting notes of black pepper, clove, and nutmeg. On the palate, the wine is smooth, juicy and plump with great integration of fruit and spice, with full body and great purity. The finish is long and refined. Having been aged 18 months in high quality French oak barrels, you may enjoy this wine currently or allow for additional aging in the bottle.
About Bonneau Wines:
In 1921 August and Catherine Bonneau purchased 70 acres of land in Schellville, about 8 miles south of the town of Sonoma, California. This was a very remote area at the time, requiring a full day’s travel time from San Francisco. This area reminded the Bonneaus of the Bordeaux region of France near the area where they were born.
The Bonneaus farmed the land, had a dairy and ran a small country store/deli. Although the vineyard has long since replaced the dairy, the members of the family still operate businesses that the Bonneaus started.
In 1989 their daughter, Yvonne, fulfilled Catherine’s vision of having a vineyard. She planted 30 acres of Chardonnay grapes on premium rootstock. Yvonne, as matriarch of the family farm, began supplying some of the best known wineries in Sonoma and Napa. The vineyard consistently received high praise for the quality of the fruit. Yvonne looked forward to the day the family could produce their own wines.
In 2001, her son, John Bambury, began spearheading the wine making operations on behalf of Yvonne’s four children by introducing Bonneau Wines with the 2002 Los Carneros, Chardonnay. Since then Bonneau Wines has produced Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The family’s commitment to making fine wines has already been recognized by wine aficionados, critics and everyday wine lovers alike.
About the Winery:
Bonneau Winery is operated by the third generation of Bonneaus with family history dating back to the early 1920s in the Sonoma – Los Carneros appellation. The Bonneaus originally came to America from the vineyard lands of Bordeaux, France and began farming a 70 acre parcel of land just south of the town of Sonoma. After growing and providing Chardonnay grapes to several well known wineries in both Sonoma & Napa, the family launched its own label in 2002.
Bonneau sources its red varietal grapes from top vineyards in Sonoma, Napa, & Amador counties. Winery operations take place in Kenwood. Barrels are aged in caves sunk deep in the foothills located on the west side of the Sonoma Valley.
John Bambury is the Director of Winemaking and handles all the winemaking responsibilities.