2012 Dry Creek Valley Grist Vineyard Zinfandel
This wine could be exhibit one in an argument that site matters as much as vine age when it comes to growing great zinfandel. The vines aren’t particu-larly old in the context of California zin. They were planted in 1974 on a hilltop that looks down on Dry Creek Valley on one site and toward the rugged, often impassable ridges of the Coast Range in the other. In 2012, the vineyard’s red volcanic soils nour-ished a wine with unmistakable purity: vivid and tart, with lifted hibiscus and sumac aromas drawn out by the delicate touch of winemakers Micah Wirth and Adrian Manspeaker. Tasted over four days, this wine continued to evolve without flagging in the least. It builds toward a woodsy red-berry flavor that’s silken yet firm. This is the genius of great California zinfandel: that it can feel simultaneously striking and simple, it’s pleasure more immediate than intellectual, irresistibly compelling. You could decant this now, or better yet, buy a case and watch it evolve over the next decade or more. (200 cases) 96 Points Wine & Spirits 6/16
“In 2007, while on the hunt for fruit for our budding winery (pun intended), I tagged along for a vineyard tour with the winemaker Gary Farrell (my employer at the time). Gary always had an eye for extraordinary vineyards, and when we arrived at Grist Vineyard, it was no exception.”
– Micah Wirth, Co-Founder & Co-Winemaker
Thus began a beautiful tradition here at Joseph Jewell Wines with the storied Grist Vineyard. Since that first vintage in 2007 (which yielded 91 points from Wine Enthusiast), the zinfandel from this site has been a highlight of our production year after year.
Most recently, our 2011 Grist was rated at 94 points by Wine & Spirits in 2015, as it was described as “a zin focused on spice and tangy acidity, bursting with a springy red plum tone that lifts toward aromas of peppercorn and lavender.” And just last month, the 2012 Grist was honored as one of Wine & Spirits’ Top-100 Wines of 2016, locking down a 96-point rating and these glowing words:
“This is the genius of great California zinfandel: that it can feel simultaneously striking and simple, its pleasure more immediate than intellectual, irresistibly compelling. You could decant this now, or better yet, buy a case and watch it evolve over the next decade or more.”
And while the cases of the 2012 have flown from our cellars, we are beyond excited to announce the release of our 2013 Grist Vineyard Zinfandel.
The 2013 Grist is a wine of elegant purity, no doubt the result of the rich terroir high above the Dry Creek Valley on Bradford Mountain. The 42-year old vines brought forth a wine that beckons with aromas of raspberry, cranberry and clove with a slight air of mesquite at the edges. The palate is equally alluring, with a full mouthfeel headlined by flavors of red plum, bramble fruit and cinnamon, which are bolstered by fine spine of acidity and silken tannin—making this wine a certain crowd-pleaser.
About the Grist Vineyard: Grist Vineyard is located at the top of Bradford Mountain, the tallest crest of the coastal range along the border of Dry Creek Valley just west of Healdsburg in Sonoma County. The vineyard got its name from the old Grist Mill on the property. It was originally planted to Zinfandel over 100 years ago. The Hambrecht Family replanted it in 1974 using cuttings from the mother vines. It has been certified organic since 2003. The vines are head-pruned, which helps maintain low-yields and acidity during ripening. One of the many benefits to being planted at the top of Bradford Mountain is that the vineyard is above the fog line, which decreases humidity and increases hours of sunshine. The cool afternoon breeze from the Pacific Ocean just 15 miles to the east keeps the grapes from getting overheated, which helps us achieve a more delicate style of Zinfandel.