OK, so as I get a little older, I like to point out (especially to our kids) that my age has brought on a maturity that needs to be ‘respected’! OK, so that’s probably pushing it a bit, probably since I don’t think I’ll ever mature past 12 years of age. But when it comes to wine, especially well-made wine, a hint of age does definitely bring out something in the wine that deserves respect (and enjoyment).
Why is this on my mind right now? Well, we have just re-released our 2010 Signature Zinfandel to our Wine Club in the February club selection.
As many of you may know, the 2010 Signature Zinfandel is one of my all-time favorite wines. Expressive, interesting, elegant and bold (which all remind me of my ‘dream-state’ self), this wine has it all. In its youth, it was a star in the lineup of wines in the tasting room. No palate could ignore its suave entry, luscious fruit, great balance and authentic finish.
“So why age this out?” you may ask.
Well, that’s a good question. As you already know, Madroña wines are made in a style to showcase food and cellar well. That’s not something that can be said of most super-ripe and plush Californian wines made today. So I suppose aging out a Zinfandel for 8+ years could bring bragging rights, especially when it tastes like this wine does.
But really am I that shallow that that is what makes me smile? (Maybe some days, but that day is not today!)
OK, so the next question would be, “Why age out a Zinfandel at all?” It’s true that as Zinfandel ages, it loses its bold Zinfandel fruit and melds more into a beautiful wine of Cabernet-like characters. But if you’re going to do that, why not drink Cabernet instead?
That’s a great question! The hints of tobacco spice, the subtle blackberry (which is not Cabernet-like), the body built up by mature fruit characters (rather than tannin structure) and the lingering notes of anise and molasses on the finish are just a few of the reasons. Although one might confuse it for a 15-year-old, $120 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, this 2010 Zinfandel is strutting its stuff quite nicely!
Ah, but you ask, “Why age out a 2010 vintage? Wasn’t 2010 a cold and rainy summer/fall, leaving many wineries to declassify the vintage?”
I’m amazed at your insightful questions. Not many people remember the weather patterns of past vintages and their impact on the wines. It is true that 2010 was a late spring (and late bud), a cooler summer with some rain, and the fall had more significant rainfall during harvest. And this forced many wineries to pick early before phenolic ripeness thus producing lackluster and somewhat green characters in their wines. Or they didn’t leaf-thin the vines enough to provide the airflow through the vines to dry out the fruit after the rains (leaving the fruit to rot in the dense canopy).
But if you knew what you were doing in the vineyards, and you knew how to work with the fruit in the winery, and you cropped the vines properly, the 2010 vintage made some of the most amazing wines of the decade.
In fact, I would go as far as to state that anyone can make a good wine out of a good year. But the truly world-class wines come from the challenging years!
But is that why we decided to hold this wine back and cellar it for an additional 6 years? Really? Because that’s expensive to do.
And now the truth. It’s a bit of all of those things. I believe the 2010 Signature Zinfandel is a world-class wine, showcasing the complexity of the variety from a great year. And with a bit of age, that spectacular edge would surprise and delight palates even more. There’s always risk in trying to find the perfect time with age to release a wine, but with this Zin I think we nailed it.
And if we’re going to hold back 80 cases of wine to surprise and delight anyone, it’s going to be for our Wine Club family who has kept us in business for all these years.
So, cheers! Here’s to you, a mindful selection from our cellar. And may you love this wine as much as we do!
(By the way, this isn’t the only wine we’re cellaring for our Wine Club. Just wait and see, and then taste something at it’s perfect time!)