Selections for March 2017

Great Napa Valley . . . Zinfandel?

2014 GIRARD ‘Old Vine’ ZINFANDEL – Napa Valley

There’s been a higher-than-usual incidence of Zinfandel in your club of late.  That’s not on purpose.  We’re not on a campaign to redeem the reputation of an often improperly grown / made wine at the expense of other just-as-deserving varietals.  It’s all about opportunity.  We’ve just had higher-than-usual exposure to good Zin at great prices of late and you’re the thoughtful winner.  – But don’t worry:  I’m sure a flood of delicious Cabernets is just around the bend!

While Girard is no stranger to “broader” markets we feature this because we can compete, and because wine lovers should know this bottling:  Zinfandel with structure and balance, resisting the “pancake syrup” style in favor of a drink accommodating good food (steak or a lamb chop).  Sourced mainly from old vines in Calistoga, the Zin fruit is accompanied by a 3% Petite Sirah contribution.  Girard deserves respect for its work with these grapes from Napa.  It is more lucrative to rip out the old, shy-bearing vines and plant new plots of Cabernet.  This Zinfandel preserves varietal diversity in a wine valley where that’s becoming rare.

Raspberry tart, baking spice, and vanilla greet the nose.  Vivacious fruit is countered by a fairly “grippy” effect on the palate.  Acids and tannins get the palate restless . . . your salivary glands are activated.  You’re headed toward your Weber for a protein treatment!        

Reveling in time-tested wine . . .

2007 DERBÈS PINOT NOIR -          Russian River Valley

The color:  Fading.  The scent:  Heading from red fruit to coffee, vanilla, potpourri, bing cherry, and burnt orange peel.  The palate:  Soft, juicy, silky.  This is a rare look at 10-year-old Pinot Noir which will be appreciated by most but, perhaps, misunderstood by a few who are rarely shown “library” wine.  I think it’s a pretty cool thing to provide.

There is little evidence that this winery still exists.  The all-knowing Internet is of no help, featuring a winery website showing no vintages newer than 2009.  There’s an impressive winemaker résumé with nods to Champagne, Carneros, and the Golan Heights plus some great-looking recipes I must attempt.  As I sniff and sip this beautiful Pinot Noir I sense a swan song:  Here is a winery we’ve never heard about and the story probably ends there.  This was shown to us by a broker whose specialty is relieving burdensome inventory.  These are often going-out-of-business deals, and I suspect that’s what’s happening here.

Meant to cost over $35, we hope you will find a soothing, sultry, and exotic wine experience from this older Pinot – of which we can unfortunately say very little more!