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DeLoach Saitone Zinfandel 2001
"Italian in style, this smells like a Barolo, then breaks out into a California dream that may make you heartsick for the Sonoma coastline. Like several of its siblings from De Loach, this cool zin has captured the Russian River Valley in a bottle. It's coastal scrub and moss, low-bush blueberry with tannins carved out of stone. The black spice, anise and dried fig complexities that come up with air give a Porty edge, but the wine remains completely frresh, lifiting all those flavors into a zesty, zinny, purely delicious finish. This is what California does best. Grab it if you can; enough people understand to make this kind of site-expressive zin hard to get, but evidently not enough to drive up the price."
-Wines & Spirits Top 100 Wines of 2003
Food Pairings: Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry Reduction Sauce, Tomato & Black Olive Risotto and Pizza with Pepperoni, Sausage and Mushrooms.
DeLoach Vineyards has been a pioneering producer of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley since 1975. DeLoach seeks to produce exceptional wines that spotlight the singular personality of the Russian River Valley, with its rare and bountiful convergence of the sea, the soil and the stars. The Boisset family of Burgundy has stewarded winegrowing and winemaking at DeLoach since 2003, bringing the techniques and approaches of Burgundy to winemaking in the Russian River Valley, which they believed to be California’s most expressive terroir for cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Under Boisset, DeLoach has grown its small-lot vineyard designate wine program, become a certified organic and Biodynamic estate vineyard, and implemented traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques such as open-top wood fermentors, native yeast fermentations, and hand punch-downs. Wine & Spirits magazine has named DeLoach Vineyards a Top 100 Winery twelve times.
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 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.