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Neyers Tofanelli Vineyard Zinfandel 2003
In 1999, Bruce and Barbara Neyers purchased and renovated a winery on a thirty-acre parcel in the Sage Canyon area of Napa Valley. Over the next 14 months they built a modern, highly functional winery designed for traditional winemaking practices. They produced their first vintage in this state of the art facility in 2000. In 2002, Wine and Spirits Magazine named Neyers Vineyards the Artisan Winery of the Year.
About 25% of our production is Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grown on Bruce and Barbara’s 50-acre, Conn Valley ranch. They purchase additional grapes from a select group of growers, among them the Sangiacomo family of the Carneros District, Will Nord of Napa, the Rossi Ranch of Sonoma County, Markus Bokisch and the Evangelho family.
Even though Neyers Vineyards sits in the heart of the Napa Valley, Bruce's experience with French wine importer Kermit Lynch has had an undeniable influence on their wines. Many of the French producers Bruce has worked with farm organically, make their wines naturally without use of cultured yeast or laboratory designed malo-lactic starter, and bottle their wines without fining or filtration. Neyers barrels are made in France, to our specifications, from wood that we buy in bulk and air dry for three years, two years longer than normal. All of the grapes are picked by hand, into small bins that hold only one-half ton. They are then laboriously hand sorted and inspected at the winery as winemaker Tadeo Borchardt gently guides the winemaking process along. As Bruce says, “No expense has been spared in our grape growing, winemaking practices, or processing equipment, yet customers repeatedly tell us that our wines represent great value in today's highly competitive wine market.” Bruce Neyers produces his own content for the company blog, “Vintner Tales.”
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960's, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.
The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those is the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
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.