The 2010 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin is sourced from 35 to 80 year old vines in several vineyards located in the Lodi AVA of Northern California (Lodi is east of San Francisco). Why is “Old Vines” important? As the grapevines get old they struggle, like everyone else, to get by, they don’t create as many grape clusters as they used to and the internal plumbing of the vines have a harder time getting the sap to the grapes. As a result, the grapes mature slowly and with the extra time to develop comes intensity of flavor. All wine grapes have to struggle to produce excellent wine, a young happy vine produces too many grapes too quickly with none of the complex flavors wine lovers enjoy. The best vineyards in the world are on soil that can barely keep the vines alive, Old Vines create the same effect. The Lodi AVA is well known for top quality Old Vine vineyards, there is no legal definition of how old, old vines must be, and the climate in Lodi is closer to land near the Mediterranean Sea than any other California grape growing region. The alcohol content is 14.5%.
The color is dark, intense purple with black highlights. The nose rich dark berries, menthol, baking chocolate brownies and soft Christmas spice. It starts with soft ripe raspberry, blackberry and blueberry, Snickers chocolate and a slice of gumdrop spice (not candy sweet, this is a dry wine). The mid palate adds some less intense strawberry with whipped cream on top, curry spice and final hit of tart cranberry. The tannins provide good structure, but they do not get in the way and the acidity waits until the finish to make itself known and helps the berry and spice finish go on and on.
I have noticed a trend lately to try to turn Zinfandel into a more upscale wine, you see single vineyard bottlings from fancy AVA’s, at higher and higher prices. But, if there was ever a wine that did not need to be dressed up to hit its stride, it is Zinfandel. Juicy and spicy, with a touch of a rugged edge, this is blue jean wine, casual every day people wine. I know Zinfandel has its roots in Croatia and Italy, but Zinfandel is an American wine, there is absolutely no need to turn it into a replica of a wine from Bordeaux or Tuscany. The 2010 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin is a first class taste of real American Zinfandel.