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Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2009

Zinfandel from California
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    Winemaker Notes

    Gnarly Head 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel is made from gnarled 35 to 80 year old head trained vines. Fruit from these unruly branches is intense and powerful, and as some of the oldes in California, these brash old vines produce exceptional, full flavored grapes. This intrepid Old Vine Zinfandel has a gnarly core of rich, dark raspberry and black cherry flavors with layers of spice and chocolate balanced by complex French and American oak toast. Try pairing this wine with braised short ribs, chicken enchiladas, or dark chocolate.

    Critical Acclaim

    Gnarly Head

    Gnarly Head

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    Gnarly Head, , California
    Gnarly Head
    My first impression, as the truck pulled up to the eighty year old Zinfandel vineyards, was, "Wow, those vines sure have some gnarly heads!" Thus began a fifteen year love affair with the Old Vine Zinfandel.

    The older Zin vineyards in California were planted before the use of modern trellising techniques and were "head pruned", meaning the shoots that eventually produce the grapes grow directly out of the head of the trunk. The resulting vines look more like a bush than the normally well-manicured rows of neatly trained along posts and wires – and they do have "Gnarly Heads".

    One of the most iconic regions of Italy for wine, scenery, and history, Tuscany is the world’s most important outpost for the Sangiovese grape. Ranging in style from fruity and simply to complex and age-worthy, as well as in price from budget-friendly to ultra-premium, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano trailing far behind. Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines are produced in their respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Bolgheri, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, with the hillside locations hosting the best vines, as Sangiovese ripens most efficiently with maximum exposure to sunlight.

    Sangiovese at its simplest, often carrying a regional designation of Chianti or just Italy, produces straightforward pizza-friendly wines with bright red fruit and not much more, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity. In top-quality Sangiovese-based wines, expressive notes of sour cherry, balsamic vinegar, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise, tobacco smoke, and cured meat fill the glass. Brunello in particular is sensitive to vintage variation, performing best in years that are not too hot and not too cold. A more recent phenomenon as of the 1970s is the “Super Tuscan”—a wine made from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, or Syrah, often grown in Tuscany’s Bolgheri region, with or without Sangiovese. These tend to be big, bold, and modern in style, often with noticeable new oak, and sold at super-premium prices.

    Sangiovese

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    The perfect intersection of bright fruit and savory earthiness, Sangiovese is the backbone variety in Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino. Elsewhere throughout Italy, it can make inexpensive wines for daily consumption ranging from inoffensive to deliciously easy. On the French island of Corsica, under the name Nielluccio, it produces excellent bright and refreshing red and rosé wines with a personality of their own. Sangiovese has also enjoyed moderate popularity in California and Washington State over the last few decades.

    In the Glass

    Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with savory flavors of tart cherry, plum, tomato, fresh tobacco, anise, thyme, oregano, and dried earth. High-quality, well-aged examples will take on notes of smoke, clay pot, leather, gamey meat, potpourri, and dried fruits. Corsican Nielluccio is distinguished by a subtle perfume of dried flowers.

    Perfect Pairings

    Sangiovese is the ultimate pizza and pasta red—its high acidity, moderate alcohol, and grainy tannins create an affinity with tomato-based dishes, spicy meats, and anything off the barbecue.

    Sommelier Secret

    Although it is the star variety of Tuscany, cult-classic “Super-Tuscan” wines may contain no Sangiovese at all! Since the 1970s, local winemakers have been producing big, bold wines (with price tags to match) that are typically monovarietal or a blend of one or more of several international varieties—usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or Syrah—with or without Sangiovese.

    SOU116082_2009 Item# 107720

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