Neyers Vista Luna Zinfandel 2017
This is our tenth vintage of Vista Luna Zinfandel, a wine that Tadeo has enjoyed turning into a benchmark success story for Neyers Vineyards. The Bokisch Vista Luna Vineyard sits in the Borden Ranch AVA, on a mound of quartz in western Calaveras County, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range. The site is exceptional for the hard, rocky soil – largely quartz – brought to the surface from a mile or more below when the mountain range was formed. Moreover, while the area is normally thought of as a warm appendage to the Central Valley, a wind phenomenon known as the Sierra Rotor is constantly bringing in cooler ocean air through the Golden Gate, effectively lowering the ambient temperature several degrees. The parcel is planted to an heirloom selection of Zinfandel that is small clustered and as a result ripens evenly, even when harvested at 23° Brix. We are thus able to keep the natural alcohol level around 14% in most vintages, yet still have bright, fresh flavors. The rest of the blend comes from the Fanthom Vineyard in the Mokelumne River AVA in Lodi from vines that are over 40 years old and produce concentrated, robust Zinfandel. Here’s a wine that will charm even the most demanding Zinfandel enthusiast. The wine spends about 10 months in neutral French oak barrels, then is bottled without either fining or filtration in the summer following the harvest. It’s sturdy, rustic, and loaded with flavor
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.”
Originally a source of oenological sustenance for gold-seeking miners of the mid-1800s, the Sierra Foothills was the first region in California to produce wines from European grape varieties. Located between Sacramento and the Nevada border, this area’s immigrant settlers chose to forgo growing the then-ubiquitous Mission grape and instead brought with them superior vines from the Old World to plant alongside mining camps.
Zinfandel has been the most important variety of this region since its inception, taking on a spicy character with brambly fruit and firm structure. Amador and El Dorado counties, benefiting from the presence of volcanic and granite soils, are home to the best examples. Bold, robust Rhône Blends and Barbera are also important regional specialties.
Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel is often thought of as California’s flagship grape. And it fact it owns this title by having the ability to adapt to the states’ many microclimates and landscapes, producing unique expressions of the grape throughout. Zinfandel thrives in California’s Central Coast, as well throughout Sonoma County, parts of Napa Valley, the Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Paso Robles.
Zinfandel was born in Croatia and later made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. The astute imperial nursery of Vienna collected specimens of the vine and acted as the source of its journey to New England, carried by George Gibbs circa 1829. Eventually, making its way to California around the Gold Rush of 1849, Zinfandel found its new home, parading the true American spirit.
In the Glass
Zinfandel commonly expresses powerful notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, dark chocolate and licorice. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig or prune. But Zinfandel grown in cooler, coastal zones often expresses red fruit, black pepper and fresh herbal characteristics of juniper and menthol.
Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs or anything barbecued. More delicate Zins work with pork, lamb curry and even Ceasar Salad or Salad Nicoise.
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, ancient vines tend to produce wine that is deeply concentrated, delicately perfumed and decidedly complex.