The Grgich Hills Zinfandel, which normally carries a "Sonoma County" appellation, is a little different this year. Due to the acquisition of some prime Napa Valley Zinfandel grapes from the Calistoga region, we were able to produce a 50/50 blend of two counties. Not only is it a different appellation, but you will also notice a change in the label.
A late harvest in 1998 produced highly-extracted wines with concentrated, yet elegant, fruit flavors. These conditions resulted in an enticing Zinfandel with great balance and depth. All of the desired elements are there in perfect harmony; delicious, clean, fruity flavors of red currants and ripe berries, a touch of oak and a long, warm, comforting finish. Try this one with your favorite pasta dish.
Grgich Hills Cellar Winery
Mike Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated "Paris Tasting" of 1976 in which 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 the results where in, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen Mike’s 1973 Montelena Chardonnay as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike Grgich a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.
Today, in Grgich Hills' 30th year, they remain committed to creating richly flavored, distinctive wines from certified organic Napa Valley vineyards that are farmed biodynamically. By all accounts they have succeeded. The new release of Cabernet Sauvignon just received a whopping 94 rating from Wine & Spirits and the Wine News awarded "Chardonnay of the Year" honors to their 2004 vintage. These world renowned Estate grown wines from prime Napa Valley vineyards are unique, delicious, and allocated.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
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.
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 & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.