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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 which flows through the region. 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, further 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 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.