The Boneshaker Old Vine Zinfandel 2019 is sourced from two vineyards in the Mokelumne River AVA inside the Lodi AVA in the Central Valley of California. Boneshaker is one of the Hahn Family Vineyards wine brands. They purchased the Smith and Hook vineyard in 1979 and soon had a winery located in the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey.
The grapes for the Boneshaker Old Vine Zinfandel 2019 came from a family-owned vineyard that Hahn contracted for 20 years. The age of the vines ranges from 60 to 100 years old. There is no legal definition for “old vines“; it is generally accepted that the vines need to be over 40 years old to qualify.
Why are “old vines” important? Wine grape vines need to struggle to reach their peak. Rocky, almost barren soil, with just enough water for the grapes to survive, is ideal for growing grapes. Happy grapes from good soil with plenty make for excellent jelly and table grapes.
Commercial vineyards need good enough conditions to produce a grape crop to meet demands, but the grapes still need to struggle. Older grapevines are less vigorous than vines in their prime. The years cause them to struggle; it does not matter if the soil conditions are properly poor.
Old vine vineyards have a markedly smaller yield than vineyards in their prime. Commercial vineyards have a replanting schedule that keeps most vines in the ideal age group by pulling the vines as they slow down and plant new vines.
Almost any grapevine if they are cared for and allowed to age, but it is usually grapes that were not all that popular that become old vines. They have to be in demand to the point that they are not pulled out and replanted to a different varietal but not popular enough to go through the effort of keeping the vines in their prime.
So old vine wines like Boneshaker Old Vine Zinfandel 2019 are the result of Zinfandel being profitable enough to keep the vineyard going, but that is in the past. Today Zinfandel is one of the main California Red grapes and these old vineyards are responsible for their popularity.
Zinfandel from California and Primativo from Italy are clones of the same grape, but if you have ever tasted both wines, they do not taste the same. The Zinfandel grape ripens uniquely; not all the grapes in a bunch are ripening simultaneously. A bunch can have grapes that are too ripe or not yet ripe.
The old struggling grapevines and the erratically ripening grapes give wines like the Boneshaker Old Vine Zinfandel 2019 unique characteristics. And on the plus side, wine drinkers get all this from Lodi Zinfandel at an affordable price. Small production Lodi Zin can get a little pricey. Still, plenty of top-quality producers offer excellent old vine Zinfandel at prices that can be considered a bargain compared to other wines.
The Boneshaker Old Vine Zinfandel 2019 is certified sustainably farmed and the alcohol content is 15%.
Boneshaker Old Vine Zinfandel 2019 Tasting Notes
The color is a bright, shiny black cherry red. The nose is ripe cherry, spice, sweet wood smoke, saddle leather, meat on the outdoor grill, and vanilla. The Boneshaker Old Vine Zinfandel 2019 is a medium-plus-bodied wine with a nice mix of smooth and rough flavors.
It tastes like blackberry, sharp spice, cola, black cherry, black pepper, and dusty chocolate powder. The mid-palate brings raspberry, a slight pull from the tannins, oak spice, dark chocolate, and juicy plum. Other than a jolt from the spice, all the flavors are well-balanced and rather tasty.
- The Boneshaker Old Vine Zinfandel 2019 is an excellent old vine Zin.
- I am a fan of Lodi Zinfandel, bold, with loads of flavor, but with finesse and balance.