This is our second vintage of Zinfandel from Snow’s Lake Vineyard in the Red Hills appellation of Lake County, an increasingly heralded wine region northeast of Napa Valley. Our Zinfandel vines at Snow’s Lake, representing three distinctive clones of the variety (heritage clones from Mendocino and Amador counties and a Primitivo clone) are planted at an elevation of over 2,000 feet in magnificent, rocky, red volcanic soils with a perfect southwestern exposure. The site also benefits from an ideal microclimate for Zinfandel of warm, sunny days tempered by cooling afternoon and evening breezes from nearby Clear Lake.
In 2005, a warm late winter spurred early bud break, but cool, wet spring weather set back vine development. Unseasonably cool temperatures continued throughout much of the summer, slowing ripening and prolonging the growing season. Warm weather in September and early October, however, got the harvest into high gear and brought it to a successful conclusion. Because the season began early and ended late, our Red Hills Zinfandel grapes enjoyed a long hang time on the vine, developing intense, concentrated flavors. Reflecting the late season, we harvested the fruit between September 21st and October 1st.
Each of our three Zinfandel clones at Snow’s Lake was harvested and fermented separately. After a short, warm fermentation in stainless steel tanks to fully extract color, flavor and tannins, the wines remained on the skins for another two weeks to further enhance color and flavor extraction while softening tannins. After pressing the wines off the skins, we transferred the lots to French oak barrels, 35% new, where they aged before the final blend was assembled in July, 2006. Our Zinfandel then aged another 9 months in barrel before bottling in April, 2007.
Our 2005 Red Hills Lake County Zinfandel displays lavish blackberry, black plum and fig aromas mingled with sweet oak, dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes. The palate is lush and mouthfilling, with deep, dense, blackberry, black raspberry and dark chocolate flavors supported by ripe, youthful tannins and a savory, toasted oak tone. While this big, strapping Zinfandel is a pleasure to drink now with hearty foods, it will benefit from another 5-7 years of bottle age.