2010 Ottimino Vineyards Zinfandel Biglieri Vineyard Dry Creek Valley
 
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Biglieri Vineyard An Old-Vine Handshake with Pio Biglieri

Bill Knuttel knew Pio Biglieri's old-vine Zinfandel parcel like the back of his hand. As did every other serious Zin-maker in Sonoma County. But Knuttel also knew that the odds of his making a single-vineyard Biglieri Zinfandel were close to nil. For decades, every Biglieri cluster had been locked up by a big name winery -- with some of the deepest pockets in the valley.

Just prior to the copious harvest of 2005, Knuttel caught wind of the scuttlebutt. With the large crop, Pio's client was purportedly squeezing suppliers for lower prices, and threatening to walk away from grape contracts with suppliers that didn't comply. The smaller the farmer, the tougher the winery is said to be. That afternoon, Knuttel figured he had nothing to lose. He hopped in his 4x4 and headed up 101 to see the old-vine Zinfandel farmer whose small berry clusters he'd coveted for a decade.

Not surprisingly, Knuttel found Pio Biglieri in his vineyard. The conversation began pleasantly enough, Knuttel dancing around the question he was dying to pose. Finally, an hour after shooting the breeze, Bill dropped the bomb.

Pio's response was typically understated, yet resolute. Indeed, his client was putting on the squeeze, something the farmer found to be unacceptable. Before Knuttel hopped back in the car, he'd secured the most reliable 'contract' he'd ever negotiated. There would be no signatures. No documented terms. There was no paper! For Pio Biglieri, a look in the eye and a handshake would be sufficient.

"People tend to think Zinfandel is easy to grow," Bill said, as we smelled the fabulous wild berry aromas of the majestic 2010 Ottimino Biglieri, "but that's BS. Zin is notorious for its uneven ripening. In most vineyards, it's not uncommon to see green berries and raisins on the same bunch. But Biglieri isn't like most vineyards. In 2010, I barely needed the sorting table."

The 2010 growing season was one of the coolest on record on the coast. A couple heat spikes in July and August accelerated the maturation cycle at Biglieri. The last weeks of summer and early fall turned mild. Daily highs stayed in the 80s. Nights were crisp. When Bill Knuttel finally made the call to harvest in early October, Pio's sugars measured a near perfect 25.5 Brix. pH was a refreshing 3.7. Acid balance was striking.

Brilliant dark ruby to the rim with exotic wild berry aromas, tinged with sweet herbs and violets. Rich, effusive and lavish on the attack, marrying tremendous old-vine opulence with the wonderful high-tones of the cool 2010 vintage, we spent 72 hours with the 2010 Biglieri -- and it was still putting on weight at the end of night three.



Tasting Notes

2010 Ottimino Vineyards Zinfandel Biglieri Vineyard Dry Creek Valley
"Brilliant dark ruby to the rim, with exotic wild berry aromas, laced with sweet spice and violets. Rich, effusive and lavish on the attack, marrying tremendous old vine opulence with the wonderful high-tones of the phenomenal 2010 vintage, we spent 72 hours with the 2010 Biglieri -- and it was still coming on at the end of night three. Drink now for its primary fruit plushness or, far better, lay this one down for 7-10 years. Pio Biglieri's ancient vine Zin can always use the rest."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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