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Limerick Lane Russian River Zinfandel 2012
Gutsy but delicate, the 2012 Russian River Zinfandel combines bright raspberry and brambles on the nose. The clarity of the nose is echoed by fresh acidity on the palate and balanced with a full mouth-feel and chewy finish. This wine is not shy in regards to structure and rustic charm: it is classic Limerick Lane Zinfandel.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In 1977, the Del Favas sold their thirty-acre property to brothers Michael and Tom Collins. Like the Del Favas, the Collins brothers saw the potential inherent at Limerick Lane, and set about improving and replanting the vineyards, including a twenty-five acre field blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Grenache--the iconic Collins Vineyard. The brothers brought tremendous passion and enthusiasm to the property, selling some of the grapes as vineyard designates to preeminent local wineries including De Loach, Chateau Souverain, Ravenswood, Davis Bynum and Gary Farrell. In 1985, Limerick Lane Cellars was created to market wines produced exclusively from grapes grown on the estate for the first time under the Limerick Lanes label.
By 2009, Mike Collins was ready to sell, but was unwilling to see the beautiful old vines and all his hard work absorbed into a corporation or fall into the hands of investors just out to make a quick buck. Instead, he approached his neighbor Jake Bilbro and asked if Jake would like to buy Limerick Lane Cellars and the Collins Vineyard. Jake had grown up in the wine business, a member of a family renowned for principled vineyard stewardship and sustainable winemaking. Jake and his young family had moved in across the street from Limerick Lane Cellars in 2007, drawn to the place from which his father, among others, had sourced exceptional fruit. For two years Jake pitched nearly every bank in California before a local bank in Healdsburg finally agreed to give him the loan. Jake’s brother Scot signed on as winemaker.
“The original homestead where Mario Del Fava was born is where my wife, three kids, and I live today,” Jake says. “Literally the day after escrow closed, with our third child on the way, we picked our first grapes of the 2011 harvest. As only the third owners in its hundred and five year history, we feel privileged to steward the Limerick Lane legacy. Pairing modern farming and winemaking techniques with the incredible fruit that only the historic Collins Vineyard can produce, we create wines that live up to the heritage that preceded us--wines noted not only for their exceptional balance and elegance, but wines with a sense of history and place as well.”
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.