Starry Night Winery
2007 Nervo Station Old Vine Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Nervo Station Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s special wine from Starry Night Winery is remarkably great. From the Nervo Station vineyard in Alexander Valley, this vineyard was formerly under the control of Ridge. Starry has seized control and to the Operatives go the spoils!
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Mission Codename: Riding the Ridge
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Operatives have been clamoring for another big, juicy and delicious Starry Night Zinfandel. Send Agent Red to Starry Night to retreive their 2007 Nervo Station Zin, a wine grown in a vineyard block that was formerly a Ridge vineyard
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Starry Night Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Nervo Station Zinfandel
Winemaker: Todd Graff
Winery 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. Napa 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 – Beautiful ruby red with glinting garnet edges. Color remains concentrated through its slightly darker core. Smooth and bouncy when swirled, this wine continues to spin long after you stop swirling. When the wine settles, it leaves behind speedy, medium-width tears
Smell – Bold intensity and deeply aromatic with spicy plum, black cherry, overripe blackberry, distinct cedar, and black currant with Asian spices, anise and butterscotch
Feel – Initially smooth and light on the attack. Then, as complex tannins gently add grip, the wine becomes even more interesting and full-bodied, supported by perfectly balanced acidity
Taste – Delicious and very juicy, with a hint of smoke that is surrounded by bold but balanced fruit of blackberry, blueberry, sweet plum, dark cherry and exotic spice with white and black pepper
Finish – Long, smooth and rich with great juicy fruit, soft drying-spice and a touch of minerality that lead to a supple dryness with soft flinty minerals and softly smoky fruit
Conclusion – Just when I thought we had tasted Starry Night’s best Zinfandel (we have had the great pleasure to feature a few in the past), along comes today’s 2007 Nervo Station Vineyard Zinfandel! This juicy style of Zinfandel is the sort the I love best. I especially love a juicy Zin when the fruit flavors are balanced and authentic, rather than overly-sweet or out of control. This wine holds it all together, beautifully, delivering a drinking experience that is sheer delight. Deep and unique aromatics combine with a plush feel, perfect acidity and delicious flavors in this wine, making it a perfect food companion or a conversation-inspiring solo-sipper. The grapes for this wine have formerly gone to the world-famous Ridge Vineyards, for their Zinfandel program. Now, the baton has been passed to Starry Night who has crafted an outstanding interpretation in today’s terrific Zinfandel.
Consider this: We are very choosy about the wines that we show here. The vetting process is arduous and, more and more, we are turning wines away – if they do not meet or exceed our already high expectations.
Today’s wine comes to us from our friends at Starry Night Winery. When we first tasted their wines, they simply blew us away. We knew that a protracted screening would not be necessary. In such cases, we infiltrate the winery with extreme prejudice – and, most of the time, we come away victorious with cases of wine to share with you.
Starry Night proved a difficult target, however. It seemed that they had their own vetting to do. Long story short, after an extended get to know ya phase, we agreed that we should conduct a mission together. Today, we recognize Starry Night Winery as producing some of the finest wines we have tried.
Today I am thrilled to bring you Starry’s terrific Nervo Station Zinfandel, a wine that I don’t hesitate to call thrilling and beautiful. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we here at Wine Spies H.Q. have.
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the Starry Night Winery, which you can visit by appointment only, can be seen in this satellite photo.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Nervo Station Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Nervo Station Vineyard, located on a hillside in the western part of Alexander Valley, has two blocks of Zinfandel planted in 1896 and one block planted in 1934. As is typical of older Zinfandel Vineyards, there are numerous other varietals inter-planted in the vineyard including Petite Sirah, Carignane and Mataro among others. Farmed by the Nervo family for three generations, these head pruned vines produce a very limited crop that results in concentrated and complex flavors and aromas of ripe plum, blackberry and cassis, with hints of anise, exotic spices and white pepper. We ferment these grapes in the traditional way using small open top fermenters and hand punching down the must twice a day. Aged in a combination of French and American oak for over 18 months, our production of this wine is approximately 420 cases.
About The Winery:
Starry Night Winery became a bonded winery in 1999 and our first commercially available wines were introduced in November of 2000. The story of how we came into existence though starts many years earlier when the four of us, Wayne Hansen, Bruce Walker, Mike Miller and Skip Granger started making wine at an amateur level. Our motivation for this came from a shared life long passion for wine and an increasing disdain for the over priced and often mass-produced wines found in the market.
In our first year we crushed several hundred pounds of grapes and produced about fifty cases of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in Wayne’s basement. This worked well since with his food processing background, Wayne was destined to become our winemaker. By combining the best of both new and traditional methods we found that we could make outstanding wine. We also spent time researching wine making methods, taking classes at UC Davis and received the advice of some very helpful commercial winemakers.
We are excited to announce that as of December, 2006, Nimrod Kovacs, a citizen of Hungary and the US, joined the management team of Starry Night Winery. Mr. Kovacs has a substantial background in both domestic and international marketing, communications, advertising and management. He has also been instrumental in the growth of cable and satellite media delivery in Eastern and Central Europe. Nimrod is the owner of Monarchia Winery of Eger, Hungary, the new sister winery of Starry Night Winery! You can learn more about Monarchia Winery in the Newsletter section or in the Links & Associations section of the website.
At Starry Night Winery, our goal is to produce the finest wines possible that accentuate the regions from where the grapes are best grown. We currently produce Chardonnay, Syrah and Zinfandels from the Russian River Valley, a Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley, Zinfandel from Amador and Lake Counties and Zinfandel and Rhone varietals from the Lodi appellation. In 2006 we also produced a Petite Sirah from the Lodi appellation and a Cabernet Franc from High Valley which will be released during 2007.
Many people ask us why we are in Novato and what kind of grapes do we grow there? Well; we don’t grow any grapes. What we do is find the best grapes and growers that allow us to produce the finest wines. We have now worked with one of our growers for nine harvests and two of our growers for six harvests. We have added seveal new growers in the last three years and we are very excited about sharing our new wines and new releases with you!
Our primary focus at Starry Night Winery is Zinfandel, which accounts for over 60% of our production. We think Zinfandel, which is uniquely American, is not only a great wine, but also offers a significant value when compared to many other grape varietals. In 2001 we became a member of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP), which promotes Zinfandel education worldwide. Bruce currently serves as Vice President of ZAP and is a member of ZAP’s Board of Directors.
We are also excited by Rhone varietals, which we believe are making significant gains in popularity. We make a Russian River Syrah, and in 2001 introduced our Adara, which is a blend of wines made from grapes found in the Rhone region of France. Because we love Chardonnay, we also produce a barrel fermented, 100% malolactic, and well balanced Chardonnay.
The vastness of Sonoma County with its diverse climate and topography allows growers to produce grapes for distinct wines from the same grape variety. Various areas are known by Appellations. Appellations reflect unique climate, soil and other conditions which tend to produce wines unique to those areas.
With the best combination of natural resources and climate, Starry Night Winery’s key viticulture philosophy is to maintain a small berry size to more concentrated fruit. Our grapes realize bud break often several weeks earlier than other Sonoma Country Wineries, promoting a longer growing season. The rocky soils, comprised of silt loam on top of broken shifts allow the vineyards to deplete water early in the season so there is greater concentration in the berry by the time of harvest.
Our viticulture practices also reflect our desire to put forth optimal flavor in all of our wines. These practices sophisticated trellising system, over cropping early in the season then thinning later in the season to contribute to pH and acid balance and promote higher skin surface to grape ratio.