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2009 Quivira Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley

I like Zinfandel. As a 5th generation Northern Californian, I suppose fondness for that grape may be in my blood. I don’t like all wines made with Zinfandel though. While Zinfandel wines tend to be high in alcohol, some are allowed — perhaps encouraged — to become more powerful than they ought.

The most common defense for this is that “the wine is balanced.” But Zinfandel is not a very tannic grape, nor is it high in acid. So, that balance is sometimes achieved through substantial artificial acidification and extended aging in a high percentage of brand new oak barrels. Yes, the drink is balanced. But the charms of the Zinfandel itself have been lost in a raisiny haze of alcohol, sugar, coconut and chocolate.

The 2009 Quivira Vineyards and Winery Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley is balanced. But it reached balance through moderation rather than unsubtle additions. In the words of a fellow taster, Quivira’s 2009 Zinfandel “is actually quite beautiful.” And the alcohol is below 15%. You could have a glass with lunch.

flowers-at-quiviraThe majority of the fruit in this wine came from Quivira’s own vineyards. They are certified biodynamic and organic. Quivira also maintains biodynamic gardens (photo at left, taken in August). There are flowers, a wide variety of produce, a lily pond, chicken coop, greenhouse and more. Visitors to Quivira can wander through the gardens on a self-guided tour.

Apart from whatever environmental benefits biodynamic growing brings, it necessitates that the vines be carefully watched and tended. It discourages pushing for excess ripeness. And I suspect that wineries which foster a balance of nature in the vineyard are more likely to seek natural balance in their wines.

This wine isn’t just a case of good vineyard practices being allowed to shine though. The 2009 Quivira Zinfandel is also the result of excellent winemaking. That includes a complex but restrained barrel regime and somewhat unusual blending. A mixture of French, American and Hungarian oak was used, but the amount of new oak was small. More than 50 different component wines were evaluated when assembling the final blend. There’s some Petite Sirah in the mix, not unusual for a Zinfandel “varietal” wine. There is also Syrah and Grenache. But, the largest non-Zinfandel component is Cabernet Sauvignon. It works.

Medium-plus ruby in color, the 2009 Quivira Dry Creek Zinfandel has a pretty nose of blueberry, blackberry and huckleberry accented by cocoa and oak notes. The wine is medium-plus in body with integrated tannins of similar weight and pretty flavors of blueberry, blackberry, chocolate, vanilla and sweet spice. The finish is smooth and lengthy. Drink now through 2015. Highly Recommended.

2009 Quivira Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley
zinfandel_dcv_thRating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2015
Release Date: August, 2011

Closure: Cork
Production: 5363 cases
Retail Price: $20.00

Winemaker: Hugh Chappelle

Blend: 83% Zinfandel, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Sirah, 3% Syrah, 2% Grenache
Origin: Dry Creek Valley
Fermentation: Open top fermenters, punch down by hand

Aging: 14 months in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels, <20% new

Alcohol: 14.8%

The wine was provided for review by the winery.

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This article is original to Copyright 2011 NorCal Wine. Photo by Fred Swan. Label art courtesy of Quivira Vineyards and Winery. All rights reserved.