2011 Three Wine Company Zinfandel Live Oak Contra Costa County
 
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Live Oak Vineyard A Nightmare at Live Oak

As the day approached, Matt Cline's anger turned to complete befuddlement. The vineyard the apartment developer planned on razing was one of the most historically significant Zinfandel parcels in California. Planted in 1885 by Italian and Portuguese immigrants, in copious vintages the 120-year-old vines at Live Oak eked out just two bunches per shoot. Now it seemed — for nothing more than crass profit — the Caterpillars were ready to rumble, ripping through the Delhi Sand, then depositing the ancient vines in a dump truck.

Erin Cline told us that her husband rarely misses a day of work. But that morning, instead of heading to the winery, Matt jumped into his truck and headed for Contra Costa without a bite to eat. "He couldn't sleep and he couldn't eat. I'd never seen him that way before," Erin said. "He got up early, drank a cup of black coffee and walked out the door like a zombie. Had he not been wearing work boots, you would have thought he was going to a funeral. I guess, in a way, he was."

An hour later, a knot in his stomach, Cline whizzed by Mac's Old House. He could hear the Caterpillars and prepared himself for the nightmare to follow. By the time that familiar patch of Delhi beach sand came into view, 8 of 10 acres had been ripped out, leaving nothing behind but a field of mangled, uprooted old-vine torsos.

As we'd learn in 2010, Cline spent the better part of five years securing all the fruit that came off the last 2 acres of Live Oak. The greatest vintages in Contra Costa are cool growing seasons that spare exposed clusters from the blistering East Bay sun. 2010 and 2011 were two such phenomenal vintages.

In September 2011, the now-126-year-old, gnarly, head-trained vines eked out just one cluster per shoot of ultra-concentrated small-berry Zinfandel. Sugars were a lusty 27 Brix, yet finished pH came in at a vibrant 3.6!

Matt and Erin Cline continue to fight with the California Department of Water Resources to save the historic vineyards of Contra Costa, the oldest of which, like Live Oak, were planted in 1885. Their case would be iron-clad if only the government agency thought to pop a cork of the magnificent 2011 Live Oak.

Jet black/purple to the edge with powerhouse aromas of wild blueberry and boysenberry preserves. The attack features a luscious gumbo of crushed black fruits, dark plum and lavender, drizzled with crème de cassis. While finished alcohol is just a hair over 15 percent, the tremendous ancient-vine opulence is braced by refined, dusty tannin backbone — arguing elegantly for a decade's slumber in a cool cellar.



Tasting Notes

2011 Three Wine Company Zinfandel Live Oak Contra Costa County
"Jet-black and blue to the edge, with lavish boysenberry/violet aromas, splashed with crème de cassis. Massively concentrated on the attack, packed with signature crushed-black-fruit preserves — dense, silken and high-toned. Despite all the textbook Live Oak opulence (just 1 ton per acre was harvested after the cool summer of 2011!), at harvest, the 126-year-old-vine fruit retained marvelous acid structure. A hair over 15% in alcohol, yet finished pH is a vibrant 3.6. Wow!"
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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