There are an overwhelming number of wine producers out there. That leads to countless bottles on shelves all over the world. Some of those labels have a neat little story on them about the winery, the grapes, or something else. Too often, those stories are marketing spin, created to make a wine more appealing. It doesn’t mean anything is particularly wrong with that wine, but if the wine I’m drinking has a story attached, I want it to be real, not from the land of make-believe. Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is fortunate to have quite a few real stories. It’s an area dotted with family wineries, some fairly new, others generations old. One of my favorite stories and wineries for a variety of reasons is Puccioni Vineyards.
The Puccioni Wine story starts way back when Glenn Proctor’s great-grandfather Angelo Puccioni planted zinfandel more than 100 years ago. In fact, zinfandel has been grown on the site without interruption since 1904. The original iteration of Puccioni as a winery was in 1919. That version lasted through 1935, even surviving Prohibition with a government license. Selling grapes to home winemakers during that period helped as well. This is a practice they continued for many years after Prohibition ended.
Moving forward to modern times, Glenn and his wife Laurie founded and run the current incarnation pf Puccioni Vineyards. They farm the family ranch sustainably, doing everything with an eye toward producing great grapes for another 100 years — and beyond. Part of that has included planting new vines in a similar manner to the ones that have thrived for more than 100 years. As a child, Glenn worked this property on weekends with his grandfather. His dream was to one day produce wine from the family ranch. He’s made that dream a reality by producing small quantities of (truly) old vine zinfandel and petite sirah. Here’s a look at the current releases of these wines.
Puccioni Vineyards 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel ($30)
Two hundred and forty-five cases of this wine were produced in 2012. After fermentation, aging took place over 18 months in a combination of French and Hungarian oak. The heady nose is stuffed with black cherry, blackberry, and a core of spices that all invite you in. The palate is loaded with oodles of sweet, and measured, fruit flavors that come at your senses in wave after wave. Dark, deep, and juicy flavors continue on the lengthy finish, and they’re joined by bits of sweet chocolate. There’s a depth to this offering that would be impressive in any wine, but that’s certainly all too rare in zinfandel. Puccioni’s 2012 zinfandel is delicious and eminently drinkable right now; however, its proportionate style and fine structure assure it will age well for the next eight to 10 years. If you were going to make a list of the four or five best zinfandels in Dry Creek Valley, this one would have to be on the list.
Puccioni Vineyards 2012 Petite Sirah ($30)
The petite sirah at the Puccioni Ranch is planted on steep hillsides. A mere 104 cases were made in the 2012 vintage. Barrel aging took place over 18 months in French and Hungarian oak. In the glass, this wine is deep and dark, with intense color. The brooding nose of this petite sirah is loaded with violet and plum aromas. A hint of leather is present as well. Blackberry, plum, black cherry, and bits of spice mark the delicious palate. Tobacco and cocoa notes emerge on the finish along with plum pudding spices, chicory, and a dusting of earth. The Puccioni Petite Sirah has an elegance that is rare for this varietal. Firm acid and approachable tannins add to what is a wonderful mouthfeel. Unlike some petite sirahs, this does not necessarily need to be paired with big, bold foods. It’ll work perfectly well with pasta in red sauce, preferably Grandma’s. Drink it now, or age it for 15 years; either way, your taste buds will be happy.
When I daydream about old vine zinfandel and petite sirah, it’s precisely wines like those Glenn Proctor makes at Puccioni Vineyards that I hunger for. These are honest wines made from an old family ranch with a genuine story. More importantly, they are delicious, well made, and very reasonably priced. This is a true boutique family winery run for love of their property, family heritage, and good wine. If you want to know what real Dry Creek Valley zinfandel and petite sirah taste like, these are some of the very best examples out there. They only make a small amount each year, so grab them before they’re gone; you’ll thank me later.