2011 Three Wine Company Old Vines Zinfandel Contra Costa County
 
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Winemaker Matt Cline Top-Rated Ancient Vine Zinfandel in WineAccess History

In 1890, on an ancient alluvial sandbar where the Sacramento River meets the San Joaquin, Italian and Portuguese immigrant families carved thousands of 4-inch Zinfandel cuttings into white Delhi sand. Over a century later those initial plantings — the Evangelho, Lucchesi and Spinelli Vineyards — would enjoy the coolest summer on record. Vineyard crews hand-harvested sweet, small-berry clusters in late September. There would be no sign of shrivel or blistering. While sugars were high, acids remained firm. Matt Cline has long contended that it's in these mild summers that his 100+-year-old Zinfandel really sings — something we'd learn firsthand at the tasting table three months ago.

One more time, at The Grill at Meadowood, the lineup was predominantly Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Phil Titus, the winemaker at Chappellet, again took the time out to join us. So did Phil's über-talented #2, Ry Richards. Pierre Paillardon, the former #1 Young Sommelier in France, also took a seat at the tasting table.

Matt Cline arrived late — toting a ringer.

Cline's ancient-vine Zinfandel, drawn from hand-trimmed 100+-year-old vineyards, stole the afternoon thunder, besting a dozen $60+ Napa Cabs. Matt described the 2011 Three Old Vines Zinfandel as "a throwback," a return to the glory years of Ridge Geyserville and Ravenswood Pickberry. Even Paillardon, whose Bordeaux palate is renowned, fell in love with this extravagant Claret-like Zin, holding on to his glass throughout the afternoon, sipping and swirling in oversized Riedel. Matt Cline explained why.

"It's never been a challenge to get the old vines ripe in Contra Costa. In fact, the risky years are the hottest ones. The old vines are head-trained and the leaf canopies aren't very dense. A few hundred-plus-degree days in a row and the clusters blister. So, while other parts of Northern California struggled with the cold summer of 2011, it was the best vintage I've seen since 1982 in Oakley. The Zinfandel ripened slowly. There was no desiccation. Sugars were plenty high at harvest, but more importantly, acids were firm — making for a finished pH of 3.53 — the lowest I've ever seen."

The 2011 Three Old Vines Zinfandel Contra Costa is a voluptuous blend of 80% Zinfandel, 14% Petite Sirah, 3% Carignane, 2% Mataro, and 1% Alicante Bouschet. The average age of the vines is an incredible 104 years! Deep purple/black to the edge with luscious aromas of crushed black fruits, tinged with violets and sweet spice. Rich and polished on the attack, densely concentrated yet still light on its feet, the core features a juicy mix of boysenberry, crème de cassis, and cool-vintage white pepper, all braced by the dusty old-vine tannins.

This was a tiny harvest in Contra Costa, down nearly 30 percent from 2009. Total production was just 1100 cases.

Tasting Notes

2011 Three Wine Company Old Vines Zinfandel Contra Costa County
"The 2011 Three Old Vine Zinfandel Contra Costa is a voluptuous blend of 80% Zinfandel, 14% Petite Sirah, 3% Carignane, 2% Mataro, and 1% Alicante Bouschet. The average age of the vines is an incredible 104 years! Deep purple/black to the edge with luscious aromas of crushed black fruits, tinged with violets and sweet spice. Rich and polished on the attack, densely concentrated yet still light on its feet, the core features a juicy mix of boysenberry, crème de cassis, and cool-vintage white pepper, all braced by the dusty old-vine tannins. Drink now-2020."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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