2007 Lampyridae Vineyard Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Lampyridae Vineyard
California: Napa Valley: Mount Veeder
What we say
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Mission Codename: Flying Lightning
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our friends at Schulz to acquire their famed Lampyridae Vineyard Zinfandel
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Schulz Cellars
Wine Subject: 2007 Lampyridae Vineyard Zinfandel
Winemaker: John and Michele Schulz
The Lampyridae Vineyard is located in Napa’s famed Mt. Veeder District. Located on the east slopes of the Mayacamas mountains, the region is best known for its higher elevation, volcanic ash soil, generally cooler climate and vineyards of low yield.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple with garnet and ruby reflections through its dark clear core. Along the edges the deep color lightens ever so slightly but the depth remains. When swirled thin legs of varying speeds ring the side of the glass.
Smell – A classic and well developed bouquet despite this wines relative youth. Sweet aromas of baking spice including nutmeg, cloves and pepper are framed with herbal bramble and licorice. Ripe black and red fruit, mocha and sea-salt caramel round out the lovely and complex nose of this wine.
Feel – Initially cool, smooth and dry in the attack, then the firm grained tannins and youthful bright acidity kick in creating a chewy quality on this full-bodied wine with a touch of spice that lingers through to the finish.
Taste – Youthful with good density of flavor with red raspberry and blackberry with notes of the spice found in the nose. Herbal bramble, fresh cut oak, black licorice and a touch of mocha add real depth.
Finish – Lingering fruit, spice, oak and herbal notes framed by the youthful and chewy texture invite sip and after sip.
Conclusion – The 2007 Schulz Cellars Lampyridae Vineyard Zinfandel is a lovely classic California Zin. Amazing on the nose, a chewy mouth feel, and classic flavors make this a wine for those who really love this distinctly California varietal. This wine also shows the true character of the wines of Mt. Veeder. Rich, intensely concentrated and complex. While this Zinfandel is relatively young, enjoy it now with anything you through on the grill or cellar for years to come.
For today’s mission report, we are pleased to present our original interview with John Shulz, when we featured his wonderful 2006 Fortunati Syrah. For the record, we like today’s wine, John’s Lampyridae Zinfandel, even better
Here is a transcript of Agent White’s original conversation with John Schulz:
AGENT WHITE: Hi John, a pleasure to meet you.
JOHN SCHULZ: Agent White! I just got a call from Agent Red, telling me to keep an eye on my wallet during our meeting!
WHITE: Curse Agent Red!
JOHN: Just kidding, White. I know how Red like to rib you, so I thought I’d jump in, too.
JOHN: Hey, its really good to meet you. I heard from Agent Red that you love my 2006 Fortunati Vineyard Syrah.
WHITE: Finally, Agent Red got something right… Yes, your Syrah is really impressive. So is your history in the wine business. I’ve been looking into your background and you’ve really had a great career.
JOHN: I have been really lucky.
WHITE: Iowa is a long way from California’s wine country. After you attended U of Iowa, what got you interested in wine?
JOHN: After I graduated in the 80’s, I moved to California to work in the restaurant business. Naturally, I was exposed to many incredible wines. I quickly realized that I wanted in to the biz.
WHITE: … so you spent time working as a cellar rat in the Central Valley, right?
JOHN: Wow, you have great intel!
WHITE: We try. After paying your dues by hauling hoses, cleaning tanks and moving palettes of wine, you found your way into a sales role at Franciscan Winery. There, you rose to a position of prominence, all the while learning all you could about winemaking as well.
JOHN: Go on…
WHITE: You caught the winemaking bug, yourself, and started making a few barrels for fun. During this period you joined von Strasser – which is a Wine Spies favorite, by the way – as their director of sales. After crafting some great ‘garage’ wines (and some not so great ones) on your own, you dialed in your winemaking skills, and decided to launch your own label.
JOHN: Impressive. That you know so much, that is.
WHITE: So, Schulz Cellars was born and your first commercial vintage was a 2005 Syrah. Your wines, made from fruit grown at some of the finest vineyards, were met with critical acclaim. Deservedly so. Your 2006, as I said, is very impressive. You are the sole winemaker, correct?
JOHN: That’s right.
WHITE: As a winemaker, how do you approach winemaking?
JOHN: I know that agent Red is fond of asking, “Are you a white lab coat winemaker, or a naturalist winemaker?” I would have to say that I take the more natural approach. Not to sound overly cliche, but great wines really do start in the vineyard. I also strive to handle the wine minimally. This means nature runs her course and I don’t use any odd chemistry or additives in my wines.
WHITE: That’s best. Speaking of the vineyard, the grapes in your Fortunati Syrah are grown by your old High School classmate, Gary Luchtel.
JOHN: Yeah, it was a coincidence that Gary followed a similar career path. Those grapes that come from our 2 acre block in Gary’s Fortunati vineyard (in the Oak Knoll District) are simply amazing. During the growing season, I take care of the block entirely. Watering decisions, pruning, and the like, are all up to me.
WHITE: How did Fortunati fare during this odd 2008 growing season?
JOHN: Really well, in fact. Where other wineries experienced really harsh losses, there was zero crop loss at Fortunati. We picked early this year and the grapes were fantastic. Clusters and berry size were down from normal, but that only makes for more concentrated flavors. We got less juice this year, but the 2008’s should be great.
WHITE: You are to be congratulated on this wine, John. The last time you enjoyed a glass, did you eat a meal along side?
JOHN: Yes! In fact, we had braised short ribs and root veggies. This Syrah is a great food wine – very austere with great backbone and structure. It pairs well with most anything I have thrown at it.
WHITE: I’m looking forward to my next glass. Don’t tell Agent Red, but I’ve swiped his sample bottle! (evil laugh)
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Mt. Veeder can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
This is a big and bold wine dominated by raspberry and black cherry fruit with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves spices. Powerful tannins are softened by a round rich mouth feel that ends with a long, lingering finish.
About The Vineyard:
THE LAMPYRIDAE VINEYARD is owned by our long time friends John and Ashley Derr. John Derr has farmed vineyards in Napa Valley for many years and has been the viticulturalist for such properties as Bryant Family, Kapcsandy, Outpost and Pahlmeyer among others. The same meticulous care is also taken on their own personal vineyards. We are currently producing Zinfandel and will have a Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2007 vintage. The Lampyridae Vineyard is located at the peak of Mount Veeder at over 2000 feet above the valley floor. The combination of elevation and volcanic ash soils give us naturally low yields which produce wines with intense and complex flavors.
About The Winery:
SCHULZ CELLARS was founded by John and Michele Schulz who have a combined 35 years of experience in the wine industry.
John’s career started in the mid eighties with a large winery in the Central Valley where I worked in the cellar as well as sales on the weekends in the tasting room. Though a natural progression, he moved to outside sales for a small central coast wine distributor. In the early nineties he took a position at Franciscan winery where I spent nearly ten years in sales throughout the US. He is now Vice President/Sales Manager at von Strasser Winery in Napa Valley.
Michele began her wine career in the early nineties at Pine Ridge Winery and is now the customer direct sales manager at Arrowood Winery in the Sonoma Valley. Prior to this, Michele was able to sharpen her wine skills with stints in retail sales at a well known wine shop in Denver as well as a winemaking position at Chateau St. Michelle in Washington State.
Having experience in both winemaking and sales, they were then lucky enough to have some close friends with recently planted vineyard land in Napa that was not yet under contract. They began making very small amounts of wine from the Lampyridae Vineyard on Mount Veeder in 2001. Their first commercially released bottling was from the 2005 vintage with a Syrah from the Oak Knoll District and a Zinfandel from Mount Veeder. In the 2006 vintage, they added a Red Wine to our portfolio called “Samuel’s Cuvee” which is a blend of Napa Valley Cabernet and Syrah. We will also add a Cabernet Sauvignon from Mount Veeder in 2009. The result is the formation of Schulz Cellars and the commitment to producing high quality vineyard designate wines from the Napa Valley.
Schulz Cellars has been a life long goal for John and Michele and they hope that their wines will find their way into your homes and onto your table in the coming year and for many years to follow.
Varietal Make up: 100% Zinfandel
Appellation: Mount Veeder
Cooperage: 50% French Oak, 50% Virginia Oak, 50% new barrels 18 months in barrel
Release Date: June 2009
Production: 175 cases