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Burgess Russian River Zinfandel 1999
Burgess Cellars has been family owned and creating wines with mountain distinction since 1972 on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. When our founder Tom Burgess purchased the 1870’s era winery in 1972 he established himself as a pioneer of mountain side wineries. Today, the second generation is building on Tom’s legacy. Brothers Steven Burgess and James Burgess took over as President and Vineyard Manager respectively. In 2013, Winemaker Kelly Woods, a UC Davis graduate, completed the new team, and together the trio has fined-tuned the vineyards and cellar to highlight mountain grapes. The new direction of the estate is taking Burgess Cellars to the pinnacle of Napa Valley wine quality. At almost 1000 feet, far over the valley floor, we produce wines from our two estate hillside vineyards, Winery Ranch Vineyard and Haymaker Vineyard. Our hillside grapes tend to be smaller, with more concentrated flavors and tannins, varietal intensity and excellent aging properties. A visit to Burgess Cellars begins with a panoramic vista that offers real perspective on the Napa Valley. One can see the length of the Mayacamas range, from Calistoga to the hills beyond Napa.
A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel is often thought of as California’s flagship grape. And it fact it owns this title by having the ability to adapt to the states’ many microclimates and landscapes, producing unique expressions of the grape throughout. Zinfandel thrives in California’s Central Coast, as well throughout Sonoma County, parts of Napa Valley, the Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Paso Robles.
Zinfandel was born in Croatia and later made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. The astute imperial nursery of Vienna collected specimens of the vine and acted as the source of its importation to New England by George Gibbs, probably in 1829. Eventually, making its way to California around the Gold Rush of 1849, Zinfandel found its new home, parading the true American spirit.
In the Glass
Zinfandel commonly expresses powerful notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, dark chocolate and licorice. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig or prune. But Zinfandel grown in cooler, coastal zones often expresses red fruit, black pepper and fresh herbal characteristics of juniper and menthol.
Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs or anything barbecued. More delicate Zins work with pork, lamb curry and even Ceasar Salad or Salad Nicoise.
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, ancient vines tend to produce wine that is deeply concentrated, delicately perfumed and decidedly complex.