Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2009
Zinfandel from California
- red wine
- Big & Bold
- 14.9% abv
Gnarly Head 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel is made from gnarled 35 to 80 year old head trained vines. Fruit from these unruly branches is intense and powerful, and as some of the oldes in California, these brash old vines produce exceptional, full flavored grapes. This intrepid Old Vine Zinfandel has a gnarly core of rich, dark raspberry and black cherry flavors with layers of spice and chocolate balanced by complex French and American oak toast. Try pairing this wine with braised short ribs, chicken enchiladas, or dark chocolate.
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".
View all Gnarly Head Wines
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.
7 ratings, 4 with reviews
- Earthy & Spicy
I have really enjoyed the wines from Gnarley Head, but this is my favorite from them so far.
- Big & Bold
- Pair With
- Beef > BBQ
First of all this is California cabernet sauvignon like. It has a nice clear color. This is a big, bold, and dry bottle of wine. On the nose, I get ripe black fruits, blackberries, a hint of strawberry, jammy flavor (which is Zin-like), a hint of vanilla. HOWEVER, the oak is all over the place! It is very oaky. On palate, i get something very much consistent with what I get on the nose. Nice black fruits, jammyness, there is also a hidden sense of pepper. Surprisingly, this wine is off balance! It has acidity that is not compatible with the character of this wine. It is too acidic and harsh to the point where you feel the acidity is at one place and the flavor and bouquet are at another place! The oak and acidity are off-balancing this wine. I gave it 2 stars taken into account that you pay $10 for it, which is acceptable, IMHO. I am 84 on this effort. I might consider buying it again. Happy drinking!
Great Zin- nice balance of fruit and dryness with a sort of old world feel to it.
Extremely rich in flavors it comforts your pallet and mind. Who doesn't love the rich taste of plums and vanilla with a hint of American oak. Incredible!
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.