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Bianchi Vineyards Paso Robles Heritage Selection Zinfandel 2009
Note that 11% of the blend comprising some Estate Syrah as well as Zin from some of the oldest vines in Paso Robles, some older than 80 years, are all there for color and depth. The 5% older vintage wines bring a mellow aged quality. So in the evolutionary history of Bianchi Zins, the 2009 is complex, lavishing lodes more layers of flourishing flavors.
Blend: 96% Zinfandel and 4% Syrah
Situated on a gentle rise, the new Bianchi Winery has a commanding view looking west over undulating vineyards dotted with ancient oaks. The state of the art stainless steel fermentation tanks provide the winemaker the latest computerized monitoring system and the option to make select, limited production wines. Similarly, the new barrel room for the French and American oak has the capacity to allow blending and aging of small lots. It is here at our new home in Paso Robles that the Bianchi renaissance is taking place as we expand into the super and ultra premium categories with estate grown and hand crafted wines.
Paso Robles has made a name for itself as a source of supple, fruity, and powerful wines. With 11 smaller sub-AVAs, there is quite a bit of diversity to be found in this inland portion of California’s Central Coast.
This is mostly red wine country, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel standing out as the star performers. Other popular varieties include Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Rhône varieties both red and white. There is a fairly uniform tendency here towards wines that are unapologetically bold and opulently fruity, albeit with a surprising amount of acidity thanks to the region’s chilly nighttime temperatures.
Unapologetically powerful, heady, and fruit-forward, Zinfandel is often thought of as a truly Californian grape, though in fact it is anything but. This variety has followed an intriguing trajectory to reach its adoptive home, beginning, surprisingly, in Croatia. Originally known as Tribidrag, it first made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. From there it eventually migrated to what is now unarguably its most successful outpost, in California, and has thrived throughout the state. Of course, this is also the grape of White Zinfandel, a sweet pink wine that enjoyed great popularity in the 1980s and 90s. Though White Zin still has a significant following, today the variety is increasingly associated with the red version.
In the Glass
Zinfandel commonly features a bold, plush texture and notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, black pepper, dark chocolate, leather, and licorice, and can often be described as “jammy” and a little bit sweet. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig, or prune. Despite its significant alcohol and weight, Zinfandel has very smooth, gentle tannins.
Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs, or anything barbecued. If care is taken with regards to alcohol levels, Zinfandel’s hint of sweetness can work well with milder Indian-spiced dishes like lamb curry.
Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding vines tend to produce wine that is concentrated, complex, and elegant.