Quivira 2011 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley (SRP: $22)
The Quivira 2011 zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley is aromatic, with notes of black cherry, raspberry, vanilla bean, pencil shavings, and anise. Backed by a firm acidic backbone and moderate smooth tannins, the palate has notes of juicy fresh strawberry, minerality, cracked black pepper, clove, and a lengthy wild berry finish, with a little heat. Overall, the wine is well-made, demonstrating restraint and finesse, and it’s a good value for money. You can enjoy now but it will hold for a few years. Pair with pulled pork sandwiches, braised beef short ribs, or pulled barbeque chicken tacos.
The core of the 2011 zin came from three organic and biodynamic estate vineyards: Wine Creek Ranch, Anderson Ranch, and Goat Trek. To add complexity and acidity, winemaker Hugh Chappelle blended in several other zinfandel lots, including some old vine, as well as a combination of grape varieties for a varietal mix of 80 percent zinfandel, 10 percent petite sirah, 7 percent carignane, 2 percent cabernet sauvignon, and 1 percent syrah.
According to The Wine Institute, the zinfandel crush was up 30 percent in 2012 from 2011, and zinfandel is the third-leading grape variety in California, though the majority of it is still used for white zinfandel. Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County has a reputation for taming and showcasing this unique variety, which can be problematic. Bunches ripen unevenly, requiring careful grape selection to avoid over-ripe grapes and elevated alcohol levels.
To achieve their goal of a balanced zinfandel, Quivira had a crew drop suspect fruit on the day before harvest. On harvest day, the fruit was hand harvested and sorted at the winery. The lots were kept separate. Fermentations were kept on the shorter side to produce a wine with aromatics and balanced tannins. The wine was aged for 9 to ten months in a mix of French, American, and Hungarian oak, with the intent to match wood style and origin to the characteristics of the lot.
Quivira’s 2011 zinfandel is available in most states and all major U.S. markets and has some chain store distribution such as Whole Foods.