Sausal Winery (closed)

2006 Private Reserve Zinfandel

Zinfandel •Estate Vineyard

California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley

Offer Expired:Jan 27, 2010 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


Today’s wine represents an exceptional value, garnering it a QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) alert.


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Mission Codename: Ninety and Spry

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Infiltrate Sausal Winery and secure a high-value Old Vine Zinfandel for our Operatives around the world

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Sausal Winery

Wine Subject: 2006 Private Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel, Alexander Valley

Winemaker: Dave Demostene

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. Alexander 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 – Dark cherry juice, with deep color concentration right through the wine’s darker hear and out to it’s light ruby edges. This wine shows a tight surface that snaps back to still, when swirled. As soon as it settles, ropey legs appear, making their way slowly down the glass

Smell – Soft and fragrant, with perfumed aromas of cherry, blackberry, raspberry and cassis. These sit atop earthen dried leaves, soft vanilla and subtle toasted oak

Feel – Soft and wet on initial attack, then a mineral dryness spreads across the palate, from the tip of the tongue to the back of the mouth. The wine takes on a lush and full-bodied feel

Taste – Tart and bright, initially. Then softer and more fruit-driven flavors of jammy raspberry and black berry emerge. After a few moment, additional flavors of soft spice, sweetwoods and subtle dark chocolate make a tasty appearance

Finish – Big, bright and juicy flavors taper off slowly, leaving behind a mineral dryness and a balanced tart-sweetness that entices you to take another long sip of this great wine

Conclusion – This thrilling Old Vine Zinfandel is made from vines that are more than ninety years old. Any fan of fruit-driven Zinfandel will enjoy this balanced and very delicious wine. On the palate, flavors evolve and emerge, to reveal a wine that is different than on initial entry. I enjoyed experimenting with this wine, taking sips of different sizes, allowing the wine to sit in my mouth – and giving it ample time to aerate. The experience was one that was varied, fun – and delicious!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Dave Demostene

DATE OF BIRTH: 12/1939

PLACE OF BIRTH: Healdsburg, CA

WINE EDUCATION: After graduating from Cal Poly and completing the wine oenology program at Davis, I worked for 17 years with my father who was a winemaker

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Sausal Winery, Winemaker since 1973

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: The less you do to the wine the better


CAREER HIGHLIGHT: 1986 Sausal Family Zinfandel was featured as the 2nd “Great Buy” in 1989 Wine Spectator. At the time it retailed for $6.75 a bottle.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: 2003 Sausal Century Vines Zinfandel was featured as the Zinfandel of the Year with 96 pts in the Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine

WINEMAKER QUOTE: It takes good grapes to make good wine


AGENT RED: Greetings, Dave. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

DAVE: You’re welcome!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

DAVE: I grew up in the wine business, watching and helping my father make wine… this was way before it was popular. It was just our way of life then: Growing grapes and making wine.

RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

DAVE: I learned by watching my father and in those days if someone made a good wine you’d ask them how they made it and they would tell you. It was a small industry then and everyone shared what they did or would be happy to help you out.

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

DAVE: I try to get away from the heavy fruit and high alcohol wines. I like a more balanced wine.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

DAVE: My Dad

RED: How long have you been making wine?

DAVE: I’ve been making wine all my life. I started working in the winery when I was 14 years old, after school and on weekends. I did everything: Shoveling pumice, pumping over, and racking wine.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

DAVE: I make wine that I like and our customers seem to like that too.

RED: Tell me, what makes the Alexander Valley so special?

DAVE: The soil and micro climate make this a good area. We have well drained soil, warm days with cool nights and a breeze that blows through the valley. Perfect growing conditions.

RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?

DAVE: Get your basics at school, but then find a winery that makes wine you like to get your apprenticeship from. Work a harvest there to learn how its done.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

DAVE: Lately I’ve been blending the 2008 vintage wines and checking barrels.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today

DAVE: The Private Reserve Zinfandel is made from vines that are 90 years old and are dry farmed. So the fruit in this wine is concentrated.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

DAVE: I love lamb with the Private Reserve

RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know

DAVE: I like to hunt. Mostly pig, deer and elk

RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

DAVE: You can’t go wrong with our Sausal Family Zinfandel

RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

DAVE: Our wines are ready to drink when they are released and are made to be enjoyed with food.

RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?

DAVE: Sausal Century Vines Zinfandel. This wine is made from vines that are over 130 years old. It’s soft and elegant. A perfect afternoon sipping wine.

RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?

DAVE: Can Zinfandel age? It depends on the grapes and the vintage, but as a rule old vine Zinfandel can age. The older vines, maybe because their yield is so low, make wine that ages for a long time.

RED: 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!

DAVE: Thank you very much, and I hope you enjoy our wine.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Sausal winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

The 2006 Private Reserve Zinfandel is made entirely from estate grown grapes. These vines average 90 years old, and impart a rich Zinfandel character indicative of the soil in the eastern foothills of the Alexander Valley. These vines are dry farmed, creating concentrated and abundant fruit; the end result being a big bold Zinfandel.

This vintage greets you with a light garnet color, with raspberry and The nose is full a hint of floral and vanilla. You will find a touch of pepper on the palette. Nice balance, soft tannins and a clean finish continue in this 2006 vintage, matching the high standards you have come to expect from this wine.

Due to the well balanced structure of this wine, it will drink well now or continue to impress through the next decade. Enjoy with beef stew, or hearty grilled or roasted dark meats!

About The Winery:

Just outside of Healdsburg on Hwy 128 in the heart of Alexander Valley you will find Sausal Winery, a small family owned winery that produces award winning wine. Owned by the Demostene Family, Sausal Winery consistently produces premium estate bottled Old Vine Zinfandels (Family Zinfandel, Private Reserve Zinfandel, and Century Vine Zinfandel), Estate Sangiovese, and Estate Cabernet at reasonable prices.

Family History:

The Demostene family history reads like a short course in the history of the Alexander Valley from the turn of the century. In 1901, Manuel Demostene, a native of Genoa Italy, began work on a ranch in the Valley. Soon thereafter, another Italian immigrant Abele Ferrari (pictured left) accepted work at Italian Swiss Colony in nearby Asti.

A mechanical whiz, Ferrari soon purchased the Healdsburg Machine Shop and began manufacturing winemaking equipment. Most notable was the Healdsburg Crusher for which he held 11 patents. During prohibition Abele’s business faltered along with all other wine-related industries.

Abele never lost faith and in 1923, after a steady decline in property values he seized the opportunity to purchase Soda Rock Ranch and Winery in the Alexander Valley. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the enterprising Abele Ferrari completely rebuilt the old stone winery using recycled materials.

Romance brought the first two generations of Italian immigrants together. In 1936, Manuel Demostene’s son, Leo married Abele Ferrari’s daughter, Rose. The young couple established their new home at Soda Rock Winery where Leo took over duties as winemaker.

Leo’s dream was to have a winery of his own one day and in 1956 Leo and Rose took the first step by purchasing Sausal Ranch. A 125 acre property planted to prunes, apples and zinfandel wine
grapes. Many of the original vines were quite old and clearly established prior to the publication of an 1877 atlas of the area.

For old-timers like Leo it was a simple fact of life that the Alexander Valley was best suited for growing red wine grapes. With the help of his four children – Dave, Ed, Peachie and Cindy- scores of acres of new zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon plantings were installed over the next decade. During this time the entire family continued to help their grandfather at Soda Rock Winery aware that the knowledge gained there would be of real benefit someday.

Leo’s dreams of converting an old prune dehydrator into a winemaking facility at Sausal Ranch were not realized before his death in 1973. That same year however, after a remarkable effort from his children Leo’s sogni d’oro, his “golden dream”, was fulfilled.

This brings us to the third generation of this winemaking family. Dave, Ed, Peachie and Cindy have turned their father’s dream into a reality and each play a key role in keeping the dream alive.

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