Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2005
Zinfandel from California
The 2005 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel is crafted from grapes from 35 to 80 year old vines. Rich, dark berry flavors from the small grape clusters are balanced with French, American and Hungarian oak, which creates layers of plum, pepper, cola and chocolate. This luscious combination provides a lingering and spicy finish. This wine pairs well with barbecue, pizza, hearty pastas, chili and ribs.
Gnarly Head Winery
My first impression, as the truck pulled up to the eighty year old Zinfandel vineyards, was, "Wow, those vines sure have some gnarly heads!" Thus began a fifteen year love affair with the Old Vine Zinfandel.
The older Zin vineyards in California were planted before the use of modern trellising techniques and were "head pruned", meaning the shoots that eventually produce the grapes grow directly out of the head of the trunk. The resulting vines look more like a bush than the normally well-manicured rows of neatly trained along posts and wires – and they do have "Gnarly Heads".
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About Other California
California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
4 ratings, 4 with reviews
I was looking for something new to try and stumbled upon this at the wine and spirits shop. Needless to say I'm very glad I picked it up as it has become my favorite all around wine. It's a nice full bodied wine, but far from over powering. The first time I had this was while eating Chinese food, and I was surprised at how well it paired with the spicy and citrusy foods I was eating.
The wine is easily drinkable with a number of dishes. I find it is nice with Thai food, Mexican food, meats, cheeses, and pastas. Everyone finds it agreeable. The only problem is the cork...it's a plastic cork that sometimes has the tendency to have the corkscrew come right out without having pulled the cork out with it....annoying.
This is one of our favorite zins. My wife and I like to cook spicy foods, such as Mexican and BBQ... Gnarly Head stands up well to the spice each time. It's good to drink by itself too!
I was looking for an inexpensive zin that I could pick up in my local grocery store so I bought this one. The longer it sat in the glass, the better it got. It's missing a little heat up front, which I absolutely love in a good zin, but that's OK since I only paid $9.00 for the bottle.
Alcohol By Volume Guide
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.