At 143 years of age, the Original Grandpere Vineyard in the Sierra Foothills is the oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard in California, and it still produces wines of high quality.
2005 Domenico Aglianico, Sutter Creek Vineyard, Amador County contains 8.3% Petite Sirah from Lodi. Like the 2006, it was whole berry fermented, underwent extended maceration and spent 11 months in French and American oak. This wine offered a mature bouquet of cinnamon/nutmeg notes, floral, oaky hints and a vague hint of VA. In the mouth, it was faintly sweet, with very forward and mature flavors of very light briar and tobacco pouch. The body was remarkably light for the alcohol level. Structurally, it was supple, not too grippy and with high acids. A shorter, drying, finish of mature flavors and subdued fruit followed. On the second day, jammy, almost brambly fruit aromas were laced with a vague floral hint. Vague brambly fruit over light, hints of sweetness and light tannins, bright acids and light heat followed in the mouth. The finish, again, was lightly drying with light brambly fruit, oak notes and warmth. This wine was unobtrusive with brisket and the BBQ ribs but heat came through a bit. (15% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, 266 cases made)
The 2008 Terra d'Oro is 100% Aglianico from the Shenendoah Valley in Amador County. The wine was fermented in half-ton bins and was pressed directly into barrels after seven days of skin contact. It spent 16 months in 100% second fill American oak. The initial aromas consisted of a smoked bacon note up front, oak notes and, fainter berries in background. In the mouth, slight sweetness embellished fleshy, sweet red fruit. This lower medium-bodied wine was round, rich and plush with a velvet-like texture, good acids, a bit of heat. An upper medium-length finish started with heat and transitioned to some juicy red and dark fruit. On the second day, the fruit aromas were more distinct and consisted of vague, plummy fruit accompanied by spice and vanilla oak notes. The character of the fruit carried onto the palate. Tannins remained fine and velvet-like, but were rather drying, initially. Acids become more declared after a short delay. A pruny note lingered at end of the finish. This riper, somewhat mature-tasting wine was unobtrusive with brisket and the BBQ ribs. (14.2% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, 308 cases made)
This wine was whole berry fermented, underwent 10 to 12 day maceration and spent 11 months in French and American oak. Aromas of candied cherry aromas up front suggested a little VA. The aromas of brambly blackberry and cherry had a slightly jammy character and gained in presence with a little air. In the mouth, a slight sweetness bolstered very light, fleshy sweet red fruit flavors. Medium-bodied, this wine was tangy with bright acids, not too astringent or too grippy. The medium duration finish was tangy and scintillating with red fruit. Overnight, this wine came into full stride, exhibiting mature and more youthful characteristics, It became quite smoky, with jammy bramble aromas and floral hints. In the mouth, brambly flavors were reminiscent of an aged Zinfandel. Hints of oak were also detectable. Finely-grained, minimally drying tannins and very juicy but appropriate acidity made for a dry, slightly warm structure. The wine finished with juicy blackberry. This Aglianico worked with the brisket, but the BBQ ribs were more challenging for the wine. (15.4% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, 234 cases made)