Red Hills - Lake County
This is Cakebread Cellars’ first Zinfandel since 1994. The fruit comes from Snows Lake Vineyard in the increasingly celebrated Red Hills appellation of Lake County (about an hour northeast of Napa), which was planted to three special clones of Zinfandel, including Primitivo and heritage clones from Amador and Mendocino counties. With an elevation over 2,100 feet, a perfect southwestern exposure, and magnificent, rocky, red volcanic soils, it’s a perfect site for Zinfandel, which further benefits from the vineyard’s warm, sunny days and cooling afternoon and evening breezes from nearby Clear Lake. In 2004, the fruit was harvested in perfect condition between August 31st and September 10th.
In 2004, a warm late winter, mild spring and summer temperatures, and several late-summer heat spells resulted in one of the earliest Northern California harvests on record. Given the early start to the season, however, and generally light crop levels, our Snows Lake Zinfandel grapes developed very concentrated flavors, enabling us to produce a wine of ample structure, lush ripeness and impressive depth.
Six different lots, delineated by clone and vineyard block, were harvested, fermented and aged separately. (The use of multiple, high-quality clones helps us produce a more complex, layered wine.) After a short, warm fermentation in stainless steel tanks to fully extract color, flavor and tannin, the wine spent another 16 days on the skins to further enhance color and flavor while softening tannins. After being pressed off the skins, the various lots were transferred to French oak barrels, 45% new, where they aged 9 months before being blended and barrel-aged another 7 months prior to bottling in February, 2006.
This fine Zinfandel exudes lush black plum, blackberry, boysenberry and fig aromas framed by scents of dark chocolate and coffee. On the palate, the wine’s rich, dark fruit flavors have a seductive chocolate-y tone, coupled with a pronounced spiciness that appears in the long, savory finish. Bolstered by firm tannins that lend structure to its lavish fruit, our 2004 Zinfandel should age beautifully in the bottle for another 5-7 years, although it provides great pleasure now with barbecued ribs, grilled steaks, spicy sausages and hearty red-sauce pastas.