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Renwood Winery Amador Ice Wine Zinfandel (half-bottle) 2003
The growing season of 2003 offered very cool springtime conditions. The cool temperatures delayed bud break by approximately three weeks, which prevented any problems with early season mildew or frost damage. The cool spring conditions led directly into summertime heat as temperatures were above normal in June and July. This allowed the vines to catch up from any delayed growth during the cool spring. Below average temperatures in August and September, followed by a dry and warm October, allowed the fruit to develop excellent color, sugars and phenolic flavors due to the long hang time prior to harvest. The fruit was harvested in late October.
The Amador Ice Zinfandel is the result of a vision Robert Smerling, Founder and Chairman, had when he started Renwood in 1993. The Zinfandel fruit is left on the vine allowing the fruit to become slightly dehydrated and highly concentrated. We harvest the fruit once the sugar levels are over 30 degrees Brix. Just after harvest the fruit is cryogenically suspended (frozen) to obtain maximum concentration. The fruit is then pressed while frozen in our bladder press resulting in a very concentrated Zinfandel "syrup" that is racked to tank and inoculated using a select isolated yeast strain durable enough to handle very cold fermentation temperatures. The result is a unique dessert wine that is the essence of Zinfandel.
Wine production has grown from 2,500 cases in 1993 to over 100,000 cases today. The critics all agree Renwood produces consistently exceptional wines that cover the spectrum from big, bold, jammy Zins to wonderfully balanced Syrahs and Barberas.
Renwood's Grandpere Zinfandel which comes from their Grandpere Vineyards is the oldest known clone of Zinfandel in America. All grapes are handpicked and fermented in small lots, then aged in oak barrels to preserve the unique character of each vineyard.
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.
Apart from the classics, we find many regional gems of different styles.
Late harvest wines are probably the easiest to understand. Grapes are picked so late that the sugars build up and residual sugar remains after the fermentation process. Ice wine, a style founded in Germany and there referred to as eiswein, is an extreme late harvest wine, produced from grapes frozen on the vine, and pressed while still frozen, resulting in a higher concentration of sugar. It is becoming a specialty of Canada as well, where it takes on the English name of ice wine.
Vin Santo, literally “holy wine,” is a Tuscan sweet wine made from drying the local white grapes Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia in the winery and not pressing until somewhere between November and March.