The 2014 Carreras Ranch Zinfandel is a chance to see how well a Zinfandel can age when made in the tradition style with minimal intervention.
On the nose the fruit is showing as black cherry and plum with earthy notes of oak and tobacco. The ripe boysenberry and strawberry is more subdued on the palate while the savory spices are coming to the forefront. The tannins and acid have balanced nicely to complement the aromas and flavors of this wine that leaves you with a long soft finish.
Selecting when to harvest a vineyard block is always a critical winemaking decision and there are many factors to consider. When making a harvest decision on a field blend vineyard it is even more challenging because the different varietals ripen at slightly different rates. If you are not going to go back to the same block multiple times to pick you need to harvest when you can get the best out of all the grape varietals.
This Zinfandel is made using many traditional techniques with modern touches to maintain quality. The fruit is fermented in small fermentation bins where the color, flavor and aromatics are extracted from the skins and delicate punch downs are done by hand. Using native yeasts from the vineyard gives a further sense of place to this wine, fermentation was monitored closely and complete after two weeks. After pressing the juice from the skins and seeds, secondary fermentation commenced to soften the acidity of the wine. A combination of French and American oak was used to give the finishing touches over 21 months before bottling in July of 2016.
The Carreras Ranch Vineyard reminds, Jim Demuth, the founder of Gregory James Wines of his love of farming and tradition. The vineyards were first planted by Italian immigrants to the Dry Creek Valley, in Sonoma County, over 100 years ago. Planted on the east side of the Dry Creek Valley, the Carreras Ranch Vineyard is situated on bench lands with volcanic soils that are rich in iron. The original vineyard blocks were planted as “field blends,” meaning the vineyard was not planted to just one varietal. The majority of the vines that are sourced for Gregory James Wines are Zinfandel, although there are some Carignane, Napa Gamay, Golden Chasellas, Petite Sirah and Grenache vines mixed in. Mixing in these blending varietals, even a few vines, has a big influence on the flavor and balance of the wine.