What We Say 2007 '80 Year Old Vines' Zinfandel
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Mission Codename: Reflections in the Miro
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Infiltrate Miro Cellars and return with their much loved Russian River Valley Zinfandel.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Miro Cellars
Wine Subject: 2007 Russian River Valley 80 Year Old Vines Zinfandel
Winemaker: Miro Tcholakov
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. The Russian River Valley, where this Zinfandel’s grapes are are grown are characterized by their balanced flavors, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives.
Today’s wine comes to us from the Russian River Valley vineyards of the Passalacqua/Seghesio families. Located in along the banks of the Russian River near Fitch Mountain, these vineyards were planted in 1920s – possibly earlier. The region is peppered with old-vine vineyards that were originally planted by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and dark garnet in color with a dark core that reflects ruby and violet hues. Garnet and violet along the edges with fast tightly spaced legs that descend deliberately to the wine below when swirled.
Smell – Classic old vine aromas of wild bramble berries and herbs with a meaty character enhanced by lightly toasted fresh oak and subtle spice; floral and vanilla hints; earthy minerality and black pepper.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this full-bodied wine has firm, but finely structured tannins and well balanced acidity. Textured minerality and solid but not overpowering spice spreads across the tongue and to the far corners of the palate and lingers long into the finish.
Taste – Well focused, with wild and juicy wild berries and bramble brush herbs are well integrated with exotic spice and black pepper. Excellent earthiness and oak emerge and linger. Subtle hints of dark chocolate and vanilla reveal themselves and linger as you swallow.
Finish – Focused and clean with lingering minerality, spice and earth coating the palate and the wild bramble fruit and herbs fading ever so slowly until another sip is taken.
Conclusion – The 2007 Miro Cellars Russian River Valley 80 Year Old Vines Zinfandel is a delicious and well balanced and integrated wine with tons of character. What we love most about old vine Zinfandel is the distinct aromas and flavors from each individual vineyard that linger on the palate, reminding us that we are enjoying a small part of California’s great wine traditions.
MIRO INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Miro Tcholakov
DATE OF BIRTH: 02.04.1966
PLACE OF BIRTH: Trojan, Bulgaria
WINE EDUCATION: Higher Institute of Agriculture, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, UC Davis, SRJC
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Dry Creek Vineyards-1990-1999 as Assistant Winemaker/Cellar Master, Trentadue Winery-1999-present-Winemaker/VP of Production, Miro Cellars-2001-present. Also consulted and continue to consult for a few other small projects domestically and abroad. Currently serving on the Board of Directors for ZAP and “PS I Love you” organizations
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Freedom of Expression”- meaning for Miro wines I source only vineyards that are interesting to me in regard of geology, soil types, location, grape growing styles, grape grower…etc. Not being confined to an “Estate” vineyard gives me the freedom of choice. If the vineyard does not deliver I move on. Great wines can be made without blue blooded heritage and a Chateau in the foreground.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: So far I made my mark with Petite Sirah for the Miro brand, with my other jobs I have done very well with other varieties and blends. In general I’m very fond of perhaps the only two varieties that California has claim to fame as truly “heritage” –P. Sirah and Zinfandel. My Petite has done well with the gate keepers and media so far.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Well I’m not sure what do you consider Highlight but if you mean wine scores I have a few 90 points and above from Wine Enthusiast, Parker, Wine Spectator, Connoisseur Guide, California Grapevine, top picks in New York Times, USA Today, and hundreds of Gold medals and Best of Class and a few Sweepstakes from wine competitions that matter.
I have met and tasted my wines one on one with Michelle Rolland (without paying for it) if that is considered an event but I found that to be very interesting. I have been on the pages of few wine publications. Once Dan Burger put me on the top 20 winemakers in the country… There is probably more that I don’t remember…
MIRO QUOTE: Just drink it-it is only wine!
Below is Agent Petite Sirah’s recent interview with Miro.
AGENT PETITE SIRAH: Greetings, Miro. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Petite Sirah today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MIRO TCHOLAKOV: A pleasure. My ’06 has become very popular and your Operatives are going to see the last of it.
PETITE SIRAH: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MIRO: I don’t think that there was any specific event-wine has always been part of our life back in Bulgaria. We made every year about 1000 liters and manage to drink most of it before the next harvest. Wine has always been part of the life circle, just like making cheese or jam or tomato sauces. We also made grappa every year. My grandfather Mariano was the initial inspiration and the first hand source of winemaking knowledge.
PETITE SIRAH: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
MIRO: The real winemaking I learned during my first years at Dry Creek. I’m not done with the learning by any means yet. Back in Bulgaria we made the wine in the most pure way possible. We rarely used even sulfur! No additives and none of the modern gadgets-just grapes and barrels.
PETITE SIRAH: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
MIRO: Don’t play with the wine just because you know how. Only intervene when you absolutely have to and you are sure of the outcome. Always pay attention to the details all the time. Everything you do to the wine-matters!
PETITE SIRAH: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MIRO: Well I don’t think there is just one person-it is more of a collective of people and styles. I do not believe that I have a particular style per say-I just try to get out of the grapes the most from every vintage-and that would be different every year.
PETITE SIRAH: How long have you been making wine?
MIRO: Legally? Commercially –this harvest was my number 20!
PETITE SIRAH: Who do you make wine for?
MIRO: I guess I can say that first I want to be satisfied with the wines I make and of course it will be great if a lot of people including media like them as well. Otherwise I’ll have a lot of wine to drink by myself…
PETITE SIRAH: Tell me, what makes the Dry Creek Valley so special?
MIRO: Well, I always had a soft spot for Dry Creek even after moving to Alexander Valley. Dry Creek is less uniform geologically and climate wise than say AV. There are many secluded little vineyards hidden in some small valleys or hill tops. I love the red dirt on the slopes. I just like the flavors that all that combination of dirt and climate do to Zin and PS.
PETITE SIRAH: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
MIRO: You have to love the job. If you are in it just 8 to 5 don’t even think about it. If the love and passion are not there you will be just a booze maker. Also you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of time and long days and hours away from the family.
PETITE SIRAH: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MIRO: It is Harvest!! Everything that I normally do plus Harvest on top of it.
PETITE SIRAH: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
MIRO: 2006 Petite is probably the most ready to drink yearly Petite I’ve ever made. The 06 harvest was not exactly a perfect one especially for the late ripening varieties but PS is not one of them. From winemaking point of view I prefer fermenting PS in open top and basically think of it as Pinot with a bit more air exposure. It is an easy to understand wine-just big, dark and delicious. It has a mile long finish and it will stand the test of time and only get better. It has a very seductive sweet and ripe aroma that will make you keep smelling it until the last drop.
PETITE SIRAH: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MIRO: Petites usually go well with the category of comfort foods-anything related to fall and winter. Meat with root vegetables like stew, oven roasts, something cooked slowly for a long time. Also as a no brainer-grilled meats. Occasionally I love it with the Chicken Livers dish at the Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg.
PETITE SIRAH: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
MIRO: I wanted to be a MD back in Bulgaria but my girlfriend talked me out of it
PETITE SIRAH: Thank goodness for us fans of your wines! What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
MIRO: Rhone wines for sure. I even make one for a winemaker called Cuvee Sasha a GSM-simply delicious without all the pretence.
PETITE SIRAH: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
MIRO: Think of them as $100 bottle of wines and you will not be disappointed. I hate the cliché but they are “affordable luxury”
PETITE SIRAH: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
MIRO: I would like to try again the 1927 Château D’yquem
PETITE SIRAH: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
MIRO: Have I been connected to KGB? The answer is –perhaps!
PETITE SIRAH: Our intel reports were correct then! Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
MIRO: Thank you, Agent Petite Sirah!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the approximate location of the Old Vine Zinfandel vineyards at the Passalacqua/Seghesio property can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The first impression is of a mélange of wild berries, cranberries and cherries; the nose is clean, focused and well-defined. Further aeration reveals intriguing Asian spices with elements of cocoa, vanilla and sweet oak. The wine has a firm structure with a long and juicy finish. Drink now or age for 2-5 years.
The Concept: After almost twenty years of being on the forefront of the Zin advocacy movement and making great Zins for other wineries I finally committed to making one for Miro Cellars. The evolution of Zin in my opinion is toward balance instead of power, terroir expression instead of the sameness of modern winemaking; elegance instead of brute force.
Vineyard: The vineyard is located behind Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg on the banks of the Russian River where two great appellations-Alexander and Russian River Valleys overlap. This 80 year old dry-farmed vineyard is a part of a historic property owned by the Passalacqua/Seghesio families and currently used for their Old Vines blend. The microclimate there is much cooler than Alexander Valley, but warmer than the greater Russian River.
Soils: Predominantly well-drained sandy/gravelly loam, with relatively low fertility—perfect for head pruned Zins and Petites.
The Vintage: 2007 is shaping up as one the best so far in this decade. The weather was nearly perfect without excessive heat allowing the grapes to “hang” on the wines and mature without any stress. The fruit set was very well balanced as well, matching the vines potential to perfectly ripen the grapes.
Winemaking: The grapes were harvested on September 7th at (modest for Zin) 24.5 Brix sugar. The acid and pH were spot on without the need for any corrections. The grapes were sorted and destemmed to about 80% whole berries with minimum raisins and jacks into a small open top tanks for punch down fermentation. Total time from crush to pressing was 11 days. The wine was aged in a mixture of 35% new Balkan, French and Hungarian oak barrels.
About The Winery:
MIRO Cellars searches the region for the nest grapes from a variety of vineyards to make their one-of-a-kind specialty wines. Award winning winemaker Miro Tcholakov considers the particular geology and seasonal climate variations of each vineyard when selecting the most interesting grapes the region has to offer. Because Miro has complete freedom to make precisely the wines he loves best, the results are a spectacular leap above the expected. Let yourself in on one of the best kept secrets in wine today — MIRO.
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Harvest Date: September 7th, 2007
*Brix: * 24.5
Blend: 100% Zin
Barrel aging: 18 months in 35% Balkan, French and Hungarian oak barrels
Bottled: May 6, 2009
TA: 0.60g/100 ml
Production: 166 cases