The Crimson Roots Old Vines Zinfandel 2013 is a $9.99 ALDI exclusive sourced from grapes grown in the Dry Creek Valley AVA of Sonoma County in Northern California ALDI is very good at hiding the actual producer of the wines they sell and rarely provide technical notes, so that I will come up with my own. Why are “old vines” important? There is an adage in winemaking that states that grapes have to struggle to make great wine; in fact, some of the best vineyards in the world are on land that can barely sustain vegetation. Lots of rocks in the soil and not much water seem to agree with wine grapes. By their very natural, gnarled, and twisted, Old Vines are not efficient at bringing nutrients and moisture from the soil to the grapes. The struggle is good for winemaking, and old vine grapes do struggle. So what makes a grapevine old? There is no legal definition; every producer is on their own to decide the age when a vine becomes old. But with Zinfandel, finding vines that are 40 to 100 years plus is actually fairly easy. During Prohibition, the Catholic Church in California was given the ability to grant exemptions to vineyards to provide communion wine, and they were very, very generous with their exemptions. Plus, Zinfandel vines are very hardy, and vineyards that were not used and neglected during Prohibition were still functional after Prohibition was repealed. And Zinfandel vineyards that were planted during the White Zinfandel craze to meet the demand are now well-respected and old enough to be considered “Old Vines” (40 years+). Dry Creek Valley (fun fact: Dry Creek isn’t dry, they installed a dam that keeps water flowing year-round) is the home to some of the top names in Zinfandel wine, and a Dry Creek Old Vine ZIN usually sells in the $20 to $40 range. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a dark, barely see-thru black cherry red with an almost clear halo. The nose is ripe fruit, with a touch of spice fudge brownie and a smoky edge. This is a rich yet balanced overall ZIN, with good acidity and a tart finish. It starts with raspberry and then some ripe blackberry, followed by black pepper—the mid-palate shows caramel apple, some exotic spice, and a late hit of tart cranberry. The tannins are smooth, and the acidity gives this Zin some length. The finish is full and long.
The Crimson Roots Old Vines Zinfandel 2013 is a pleasing mix of elegant Zinfandel and more “rough and ready” Zin elements. There is a tasty fruit, interesting spice, and solid structure. I do not usually have Dry Creek wines on CWF since wines from the likes of Ridge and Seghesio are out of our intended price range. It sure is nice of good old ALDI to give us a taste of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel for a bargain price of ten bucks.