From the Chiles Valley nestled in the Vaca Mountains on the northeast side of Napa Valley. The appellation has a warmer and more continental climate than other portions of Napa. This is because the cooling fog and winds that moderate night temperatures in Chiles Valley retreat earlier then most of Napa after sun rise and thus grapes are allowed long hang-time and freedom to develop full concentrated flavors and complexities in an ideal Mediterranean climate.
Planted in 1975, the vines used in our wines are some of the oldest in the Chiles Valley. They are planted on a hillside and dry-farmed, so no additional irrigation is used. This ensures the vines are stressed and, therefore, produce rich, concentrated flavors in the bottle. The vines are also head-trained and pruned to one ton-per-acre.
In 2013, a warm, dry Spring brought early bud-break, and helped to moderate canopy vigor and berry size. The dry Spring season kept the berry size smaller than usual so the 2013 vintage offers significant structure. Smaller berries mean a higher ratio of skins-to-juice, leading to higher levels of color and tannin. While there was one heat spike in late June/early July, the weather was generally dry, warm and consistent throughout the season. Pickers moved into the vineyards on August 1, making it the earliest harvest in recent record. The cooler, sunny weather throughout October allowed the final grapes still on the vine to linger longer without alcohol levels soaring, making the end to the harvest unusually leisurely.
These grapes were treated to 25 days on skin-contact during fermentation to allow for maximum concentration and extraction from the skins and seeds. A small-lot fermentation and extended maceration is something typically done in highly rated boutique wineries to allow the tannins and complex structure from the grapes to break down slowly into the juice alongside fermentation. Then there was a second fermentation - 100% malolactic - in barrel to soften the acid and round out the mid-palate.
The wine was aged for 18 months in 100% American oak (85% new and 15% once-used and all medium toast). This provided the final structure needed for this extraordinary Zinfandel.
Ruby red in the glass with a concentrated center moving outwards toward the rim. With a bramble nose, the wine exhibits caramel candy-apple, molasses and a hint of black cherry. On the palate, there is an experience of cherry licorice, smoky cedar, and black peppercorn followed by sweet oak, dill and black cherry-cobbler. The wine finishes with a lengthy, spicy finish.
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