This week, I’ve selected Grgich Hills Estate’s 2011 Zinfandel for you to explore. Though their pride and joy is their Chardonnay, I encourage you to enjoy a bottle of this Zinfandel over dinner when you join us in Downtown Greensboro this week. We have many excellent small plates, appetizers, and entrees from our dinner menu that will pair wonderfully with this oak aged wine.
Many of you already know about the historic “Paris Tasting” of 1976 that earned Mike Grgich accolades from a panel of French Judges. For those of you who don’t, I encourage you to take a few minutes and learn more about this award-winning Napa Valley winery and the famous ’76 tasting.
I look forward to seeing you soon and hearing your thoughts on this Napa Valley wine.
Grgich Hills Estate proudly farms five estate vineyards without artificial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, and rely on wild yeast fermentation. They also switched to solar power in 2006 and are committed to natural winegrowing and sustainability.
Wine Maker’s Notes
Alcohol : 14.5% by volume
Fermentation: indigenous yeast; pressed off skins, early to retain fruit character
Harvest date: October 13-19, 2011
Sugar: 25 ̊ Brix (average)
Bottling date: March 12, 2013
Release date: Fall 2014
Total acid: 5.5 g/L
Time in oak: 15 months
Type of oak: large French oak casks
Production: 7,370 cases (12/750 m l.)
Blend: 98% Zinfandel, 2% Petite Sirah
Thanks to cool weather and unexpected rains, 2011 was a demanding but, in the end, rewarding vintage for us. The wet winter and spring delayed the start of bloom and then cool temperatures slowed grape development, pushing the start of harvest back by two weeks. More reminiscent of France than Napa Valley, this vintage fashioned elegant wines with great aromatics, and the lower level of sugars from the cool growing season translated into lower alcohol.
Our 34-acre vineyard in Calistoga is the warmest of our five vineyards and the sole source of our Zinfandel. Its northeast exposure catches abundant morning sun but is shaded from the hot late afternoon sun, and combined with the vineyard’s gravelly loam soils, this forms the perfect spot to grow this varietal. We farm all of our vineyards naturally, without artificial pesticides or herbicides, and they are certified organic.
We co-fermented the Zinfandel with a touch of Petite Sirah to add complexity and structure, and then aged the wine in large oak casks so the flavors are well integrated but not overwhelmed by oak. This food-friendly Zinfandel’s pure flavors of strawberries, raspberries, and a hint of white pepper make it the perfect match for grilled meats, lasagna, pizza topped with tomato sauce and beef stews.