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Porter-Bass Dot's Garden Zinfandel 2014

Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    This block is a steep south facing hill that can only be worked by hand. The last of the hundred year old vines grow here and tie Porter Bass to their personal history and the history of the vineyard. The vines produce very little fruit and the flavors are intense and exotic. Half way up the hill runs the path that connected grandma Dot’s house to the main house, a bench sits between two small but ancient vines for her to rest and enjoy the view. The hill became known as Dot’s garden. This wine will only be made in vintages that Luke & Elena believe that it will live up to the name.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Porter-Bass

    Porter-Bass

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    Porter-Bass, Russian River, Sonoma County, California
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    The Porter Bass Estate sits just up in the hills that overlook the small town of Guerneville, CA (below the fog line, 9 miles from the Pacific Ocean). The vines struggle to ripen each year, providing the perfect environment to make balanced expressions of Coastal Russian River Valley wines. The property is 25 acres under vine (primarily planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with a 2 acre Zinfandel parcel named Dot’s Garden). The Estate dates back to the late 1800’s: planted to Zinfandel & Palomino (while the Palomino is long pulled up, some of the original Zinfandel vines still exist in Dot’s Garden).

    The Bass family found this run-down, century-old, vineyard in 1980 and began the arduous process of reviving the vines. Decades of farming-induced erosion had left the soil sustaining only poison oak and blackberries. They looked to Biodynamic and organic farming strategies to create life in the soil and renew the vineyard's vitality. This restoration requires time and patience and the rewards have come over generations rather than years. They replanted most of the original Zinfandel, and all of the Palomino, leaving only a small mother block of Zinfandel. The original budwood from these vines was used in order to maintain the vineyard character.

    In the winemaking the human influence is limited as much as possible. When the grapes arrive at the winery they ferment with indigenous yeasts. This imparts a greater sense of place in the wine. In the red wines the fruit is not crushed, only the stems are removed, leaving the whole berries. This gives a slower start to the fermentation and results in a greater expression of freshness. As the wines age they gain complexity but do not suffer from the premature aging that comes with over-ripe fruit. Gentle handling of the wine, using gravity flow, and minimizing the use of machines in production helps to preserve the vitality of the wine. The amount of new oak is limited to less than 40 percent. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.

    Russian River

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    A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. 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, farther 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.

    Zinfandel

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    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.

    Perfect Pairings

    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.

    Sommelier Secret

    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.

    TEWT04305_2014 Item# 332587