What We Say 2006 Napa Valley Zinfandel
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s selection from Grgich Hills Estate deserves special recognition as a really outstanding wine. If you love delicious Zinfandel, please consider this fabulous wine for your personal cellar.
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Mission Codename: In Harmony
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Revisit our friends at Grgich Hills Estate to acquire their delicious Napa Valley Estate Zinfandel
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Grgich Hills Estate
Wine Subject: 2006 Napa Valley Estate Zinfandel
Winemaker: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
Backgrounder: In 1976, Mike Grgich rocked the wine world by creating a California that beat out French Chardonnays in the now famous Judgment of Paris. The French were outraged, and Mike Grgich earned the respect of wine drinkers and critics, worldwide. Today, Mike continues to oversee production of what have been heralded as “the finest wines in the world”. We are very proud to be able to bring you today’s fantastic Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Zinfandel.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby red with a slight burgundy tinge, with perfect clarity and color that remains concentrated out to the edges of the wine. This wine has a tight and springy surface that settles very quickly when swirled, leaving behind widely-spaced and skinny legs that move quickly down the glass
Smell – A deep inhalation delivers a delightful rush of layered fruits of juicy raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, and plum jam, with plenty of spice, dark forest floor, soft cocoa, black pepper and soft earth
Feel – Medium bodied right out of the gate, softly grippy and mouth-coating, a plush tannins take hold all around the palate
Taste – Delicious and very flavorful, but balanced and not at all overpowering. This wine shows off tasty layers of dark berry jam, raspberry, strawberry, mixed spice, a hint of sweetwood and softest dried meats
Finish – Deep layers of flavor taper off very slowly, leaving behind a slight dryness and sweetness that makes you jump right into your next gulp of this delicious wine
Conclusion – This is another fantastic wine from our old friends at Grgich Estate! This is the sort of wine that is delicious and delightful on it’s own, but pair it with your favorite meal for a real treat. This is a big and flavorful wine, but it has enough balance and acidity to make it food-friendly. I encourage you to sample it both ways for a varied experience with the wine. Once again, Mike Grgich and his entire winemaking team strut their stuff – and show off the virtues of Biodynamic farming – with this delicious Zinfandel. We tip our spy hats to you, Mike and Ivo!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
DATE OF BIRTH: April 1st, 1923
PLACE OF BIRTH: Desne, in Croatia’s coastal Dalmatian region
WINE EDUCATION: Attended University of Zagreb. Field of study, viticulture and enology
CALIFORNIA WINERIES EXPERIENCE: Christian Brothers Cellars, Souverain Winery, Robert Mondavi and Beaulieu Vineyard (with André Tchelistcheff)
FOUNDED NAMESAKE WINERY: Grgich Hills Cellar, founded 1977, renamed to Grgich Hills Estate in 2006
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: To, “… year after year, is to improve the quality of [the] vineyards and [the] wines” and to, “… remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity”.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Chardonnay
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: In 1976, Mike Grgich’s Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won the infamous Judgement of Paris tasting, to become the best Chardonnay in the world. The fact that a California wine won the tasting shocked the wine world – and spurned Mr. Grgich on to great success with his own winery
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: On March 7, 2008, in recognition of his impact and contribution to the wine industry, Mr. Grgich was inducted into the Vintner Hall of Fame. The honor coincided with his 50th vintage of winemaking in the Napa Valley
GRGICH QUOTE: “For years, everybody in the world believed that only French soils could produce great wines. We shattered that myth. That was probably the most significant result of the Paris tasting. Our victory pumped new energy into the California wine industry, particularly in the Napa Valley.”
BLACK BERET: Mr. Grgich wears an ever present black beret. It is rumored that the beret is imbued with magical energies that power his winemaking talents. Further investigation is required…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Grgich Hills Estate can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Grgich Hills Estate
About This Wine:
We age our Zinfandel in large oak casks so the flavors are well integrated but not overwhelmed by oak. The result is an irresistible mix of strawberries and raspberries with a hint of allspice that keeps evolving as the wine sits in the glass. Nicely balanced between acidity and alcohol, this medium-bodied Zinfandel’s forward fruit and soft tannins make it a great match with grilled meats, pizza and pastas with tomato sauce.
VINTAGE: 2005 will be remembered for its long, cool growing season. The year began with heavy rains, and then a spell of 80-degree weather in early March triggered budbreak. The generally cool summer allowed the grapes to ripen smoothly and completely, without any major heat spikes to confuse them. Mildew was not a problem for us as in some cool years due to our Biodynamic® farming practices.
VINEYARD: We grow our Zinfandel using organic and Biodynamic farming techniques at our estate vineyard in Calistoga, nestled in the northern tip of Napa Valley. The reddish soils here are gravelly loam that provide excellent drainage and the cloudless days and cool nighttime temperatures are perfect for sun-loving Zinfandel. The vines are head pruned to protect the grapes from sunburn. All of these factors contribute to produce concentrated, complex ﬂavors in the wine.
About The Winery:
Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen Mike’s 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.
The Paris Tasting served notice to the world that the California wine industry was on the move, and it laid the groundwork for the creation of Grgich Hills Cellar. After his victory in Paris, Mike sat down with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they gave birth to Grgich Hills. It was an ideal partnership. Austin owned premium vineyards in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley, and with his extensive background in business, he put the winery on its financial feet. Mike, with his fierce commitment to making wines of the highest quality, began producing what immediately became our signature wine: the exquisite, richly complex Chardonnays that win awards and delight wine lovers across America and throughout the world.
Today, we remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity. We are proud that world leaders such as Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand chose our wines to serve at state dinners, but we are just as proud that every single day discriminating wine drinkers count on Grgich Hills to turn their own dinners into special occasions.
As always, we treat each of our six different wines as a special child, carefully nurturing their development and character. Our main pride and joy is our Chardonnay, an elegant example of the varietal displaying rich flavors and exquisite balance. As a complement to the Chardonnay, we also produce a refreshingly crisp Fumé Blanc, a rich and spicy Zinfandel, a Cabernet Sauvignon with tremendous depth and complexity, a lush and richly fragrant Merlot, and a luscious dessert wine named “Violetta,” in honor of Mike’s daughter, Violet.
Now 85 years old, and still sporting his signature blue beret, Mike was inducted into the Vinter Hall of Fame in March 2008 in honor of his many contributions to the wine industry. While many other Napa wineries pursue strategies of expansion, Mike, along with his daughter, Violet, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, prefer to stay small. Their aim, year after year, is to improve the quality of their vineyards and their wines, relying on Mike’s unique artistic and intuitive touch. This strategy continues to pay significant dividends. Many wineries buy their grapes from outside vineyards. Grgich Hills now owns all of its own vineyards, all of which are certified organic and Biodynamic. Beginning with the 2003 vintage, all Grgich Hills wines are labeled “Estate Grown.” This guarantees a consistently superior level of quality, and it guarantees that Grgich Hills will remain a shining symbol of prestige and good taste. In recognition of that important milestone, the winery changed its name in 2007 to Grgich Hills Estate.
Alcohol: 14.9% by volume
Fermentation: indigenous yeast; pressed off skins early to retain fruit character
Harvest date: October 10-28, 2005
Sugar: 25.7° Brix average
Bottling date: December 12, 2006
Release date: October 1, 2007
Total acid: 6.1 g/L
Time in oak: 12 months
Type of oak: large French oak casks
Production: 5,500 cases (12/750 ml.) 325 cases (12/375 ml.) 10 cases (6/1.5 L)
Blend: 98% Zinfandel 2% Petite Sirah