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Jeff Runquist R Primitivo 2015

Primitivo from Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    Medium garnet, with a bit of orange. Nice nose of earthy spices, including allspice and wood notes. Rich and deep-flavored on the palate with dark flavors such as tobacco, soy, and black cherry lead. Texture is medium-bodied, but on the rich side, with firm acid balance. Finishes well, with moderate grip, low tannins, and graphite notes.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Jeff Runquist

    Jeff Runquist

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    Jeff Runquist, Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
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    Jeff Runquist started his adventure in the wine industry in 1977 when he interned with Seagrams at their Paul Masson Sherry Cellars in Madera while studying enology at UC Davis. Upon graduating in 1980, he worked in the cellar at Montevina in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley and was promoted to winemaker in 1982. After a three year stint at the Napa Valley Cooperative Winery from 1987 through 1990, Jeff became the winemaker for the J. Lohr winery in San Jose. It was during his tenure at J. Lohr that it became clear that he was going to have to make wine for himself.

    Jeff produces wines from grapes grown throughout California. At last count he was planning to crush over twenty different varieties from nine different appellations for the 2013 vintage. Most of these wines are produced in very small limited quantities. However, there are four principle wines that the winery strives to have available throughout the year and they are: Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Barbera, and Petit Verdot. ll of Jeff's wines share a theme of fresh fruit reflective of the varietal flavors inherent in the grapes. Jeff selects grapes from vineyards that provide rich full flavors without loads of astringent tannins.

    As the lower part of the greater Sierra Foothills appellation, Amador is roughly a plateau whose vineyards grow at 1,200 to 2,000 feet in elevation. It is 100 miles east of both San Francisco and Napa Valley. Most of its wineries are in the oak-studded rolling hillsides of Shenandoah Valley or east in Fiddletown, where elevations are slightly higher.

    The Sierra Foothills growing area was among the largest wine producers in the state during the gold rush of the late 1800s. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking was totally abandoned, along with its vineyards. But some of these, especially Zinfandel, still remain and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.

    Most Amador vines are planted in volcanic soils derived primarily from sandy clay loam and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nighttime temperatures typically drop 30 degrees and the humidity is low, making this an ideal environment for grape growing. Because there is adequate rain throughout the year and even snow in the winter, dry farming is possible.

    Primitivo

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    Responsible for inky, brambly, and ripe-fruited wines, Primitivo bears more than a passing resemblance to Zinfandel—and there’s a very good reason for this. Depending on whom you ask, the two varieties are either one and the same, or extremely similar clones of a third variety—the Croatian Tribidrag. Primitivo was brought to Italy from Croatia in the late 1800s and became an important variety in the hot, dry region of Puglia in the country’s south. Primitivo is sometimes labeled as Zinfandel for export.

    In the Glass

    The flavors of Primitivo are, naturally, very similar to those of Zinfandel, but often it is somewhat earthier, leaner, and more structured, with lower alcohol. Typical characteristics include ripe berry fruit, plum, black pepper, fresh earth, and sweet baking spice.

    Perfect Pairings

    Primitivo pairs best with full-flavored, hearty meat dishes like roasted lamb, beef brisket, hamburgers, or anything barbecued. Alcohol levels tend to be lower than those of Zinfandel, which means it can pair with slightly spicy cuisine like Indian curries, meatballs with Moroccan seasonings, or beef fajitas.

    Sommelier Secret

    The link between Primitivo and Zinfandel is quite a recent discovery. The two were believed to be siblings until 2001, when grape geneticists at UC Davis identified them as identical. While European producers are allowed to use the two names interchangeably, the US does not yet permit this.

    AUT15RUNPRIMINVV_2015 Item# 279087