2012 Rudy Von Strasser Zinfandel Napa Valley
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Von Strasser Vineyards The "King" is Back

One thing about Robert Parker, Jr.: The guy has always had a flair for the dramatic.

Over a year ago, Parker stunned the wine world when he announced that he had sold the Wine Advocate for untold millions to an Asian investment group. As the publication added more writers to its staff, many conjectured that the most influential wine critic in history was set to hang up his spurs. Parker, many predicted, was riding into the Mt. Veeder sunset.

Yesterday, when we logged onto erobertparker.com and then clicked on the link for Issue #209, we couldn't help but smile. One more time, Parker had played his audience to Shakespearian perfection. In just a few hundred words — many focused on the staggering 2012 vintage in Napa Valley — Mr. Parker sent importers, distributors and retailers scrambling. The title of Parker's missive? What else? "Curtain Call (The Return of the King)"!

The first we heard about the 2012 harvest was from Chuck Wagner at Caymus, who called 2012 "a watershed vintage" in Napa Valley. When we then polled our winemaker friends up and down the Silverado Trail, there was near-perfect consensus. Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and — perhaps most of all — capricious Zinfandel reached perfect physiological maturity with minimal intervention in the vineyards. The top reds were "deep, dark, brooding and plump." Most exciting, after four consecutive short vintages, both quality and quantity were sky-high.

Parker would go on to publish nineteen 96-100-point reviews, and the following vintage synopsis:

"2012, which I had the opportunity to taste at 12 months of age, looks spectacular. This is a vintage for followers of classic, big, fruit-dominated Napa wines. Not a hot year by any means, it was warmer than 2011 or 2010. It was also not a rainy year, and with the exception of a few heat spikes, it was trouble-free. The resulting wines are exactly what we have come to expect from top years in Napa Valley — exuberant and boisterous, filled with oodles of ripe fruit, exceptional purity and fleshy, succulent, mouth-filling, crowd-pleasing personalities of considerable character and richness."

As we scoured the valley last week, barrel tasting from Oakville to Calistoga, we stopped in on Rudy Von Strasser, the guy many believe is making the most long-living wines on Diamond Mountain. Von Strasser, whose reds are often closed in youth before exploding a decade or so after bottling, may have put it best: "If you want hard edges, big shoulders, and firm acid backbone, 2012 may not be for you. But if your taste is for sheer black-fruit power, silken texture, and youthful suppleness — this may be the finest, most plentiful harvest in the last 30 years."

In 2012, Von Strasser's typically ultra-sturdy Diamond Mountain Cabernets can be slurped up with a straw right from the barrel. But at this stage, the most irresistible 2012 in Rudy's cellar is a small-production Zinfandel drawn entirely from a Calistoga Zin hotspot at the junction of the Silverado Trail and Crystal Springs Road. Harvest came in mid-October in the shadow of Chateau Montelena. The Zinfandel clusters, typically sporting irregularly sized berries on the same bunch, were remarkably in balance. Seeds were perfectly brown and ripe. Berries were ultra-sweet. Acid backbone — so often astringent with Zin — was supple and sumptuous.

The 2012 Rudy Napa Valley Zinfandel is purple/black in color, infused with juicy, primary aromas of black raspberry and sweet spice. The attack is big, rich and surprisingly plump, packed with crushed red-fruit preserves, braced by refreshing Calistoga vibrancy.

Tasting Notes

2012 Rudy Von Strasser Zinfandel Napa Valley
"The 2012 Rudy Napa Valley Zinfandel is purple/black in the color, infused with ultra-ripe, juicy, primary aromas of black raspberry and sweet spice. The attack is big, rich and marvelously plump, packed with crushed red-fruit preserves, braced by refreshing Calistoga vibrancy. A 2012 hedonist's delight, drink now for its primary fruit opulence — or lay down for 3-5 years in a cool cellar."
-- WineAccess Travel Log


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