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2009 Black Sears Estate Zinfandel Howell Mountain

Black Sears is a Howell Mountain vineyard and winery. Its owners, Joyce Black and Jerre Sears purchased the property in 1979, were married there in 1981 and it has long been a source of acclaimed Zinfandel grapes. The fruit has been featured in Black Sears’ own wines, but also top-scoring bottles from Turley and others. There are just 17 acres of the Zinfandel, planted in 1975 and dry-farmed.

Black Sears wines are made on site at the top of Howell Mountain by Thomas Rivers Brown. A highly sought-after winemaker of highly sought-after wines, Brown started out at Turley 15 years ago. Now, his projects include Schrader, Outpost, Seaver Family and his own brand, Rivers-Marie.

Black Sears has a history of excellent winemaking. Ted Lemon of Littorai made both the Black Sears and Littorai wines there, up on the hill, for a dozen years until he constructed his own Sebastopol winery in 2007.

The 2009 Black Sears Estate Zinfandel Howell Mountain is a wine with power and personality. It is medium-plus ruby in the glass. Aromatic intensity is just beyond medium, but there is plenty of dark complexity. Black pepper and a melange of other dark spices float above black cherry, blackberry preserves and blueberry. The palate is focused. Dark and briary fruit provide a smooth welcome. The medium-plus body is driven by tannins — at first lightly grainy then, with some air, powdery. They quickly build a structure that organizes the fruit and sends it marching in orderly fashion with just enough time to grab black pepper, a square of chocolate and a tin of moist, dark tobacco.

This is serious, Howell Mountain Zinfandel. It will add complexity with ten years in the cellar. But, you can easily enjoy it now with 30 minutes or so in a decanter and a slab of juicy ribs. Very Highly Recommended.

You can taste a barrel-sample of the 2010 Black Sears Zinfandel and hundreds of Zinfandel wines this week at the ZAP! Festival. Take a look at this article for more information.

2009 Black Sears Estate Zinfandel Howell Mountain
black-searsRating: Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2022
Release Date: Fall, 2011

Closure: Natural cork
Retail Price: $45.00

Winemaker: Thomas Rivers Brown

Blend: 100% Zinfandel
Origin: 100% Howell Mountain
Aging: ~ 18 months in French oak barrels

Alcohol: 15.6%

This wine was purchased for review.

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This article is original to Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. Black Sears emblem courtesy of the winery and includes a painting by J. Beauchamp. All rights reserved.