When we first discovered Bill Knuttel’s single-vineyard Ottimino Zinfandels, we knew what we had in hand. Knuttel had already made quite a name for himself as head winemaker at Saintsbury and Dry Creek. But as we’d been told by Zin gurus Matt Cline and Joel Petersen, Bill’s heart was always at Ottimino.
For two decades, Knuttel has been one of the most talented Zin-makers in Sonoma, fashioning rich, juicy, wild-berry Zinfandels braced by cool-climate vibrancy. It’s a style that speaks to Zinfandel’s glory days, and of the wines of Knuttel’s mentors, Joel Peterson at Ravenswood and Paul Draper at Ridge. But between his head winemaking job at Dry Creek and his consultancies, Knuttel had no bandwidth for sales calls.
In 2010, Bill agreed to let us offer his Ottimino Zinfandels on WineAccess. “I’ll give you an exclusive on special pricing if you keep me out of airports and Marriott Courtyards.” We went all in, treating many of you to a steady diet of some of the most talked-about old-vine single-vineyard Zinfandels on the coast. Buyers lit up the WineAccess scoreboard like a Christmas tree, dropping over 500 5-star ratings on Ottimino Zins — not one of which eclipses this beautifully balanced new release of the 2013 Ottimino Estate.
Robert Parker praised the “crisp acids” of the “top-flight” 2013 vintage in Sonoma, with wines that are “more European in style with restraint.” In the Russian River Valley, the spring’s fruit set was perfect with no shatter. A healthy crop — “the best damn looking stuff I’ve seen,” as Bill put it — was aided by a long and moderate growing season, which allowed Knuttel to push the envelope on hang times. He brought his tiny crop to perfect maturity in the second week of October.
Beautifully structured and almost Claret-like, the 2013 Ottimino Estate Zinfandel calls to mind Paul Draper’s Ridge Vineyard Zins of the 1980s and 1990s. It’s vivid ruby in color, and infused with explosive aromas of blueberry preserves, ripe raspberry, and flamed orange peel, sprinkled with cool-climate white pepper notes. Rich, lush, and juicy on the attack, with raspberry bramble notes and beautifully integrated French oak spice. Supple and textbook round Russian River tannins are buttressed by vibrant acidity. Drink now through 2026.
$35 from the winery. A razor-sharp $19.99 today on WineAccess — if only to keep Bill Knuttel out of airport Marriott Courtyards, and in the vineyards where he belongs.
Ottimino is one of my favorites. A friend and I always order and share a case when it is available. A wonderful peppery flavor yet still smooth.
This full body Zinfandel is an excellent value. We enjoyed our 2012 case so much, we purchased the 2013 as soon as it came out. Very smooth on the pallet and rich in BlackBerry and Blackcurrent Cassis flavor, we find this wine pairs very well with Indian curry and spicy stew dishes.
I have been a red Zinfindel friend for years. This is one of the finest I have ever tasted. When I received my case I took two bottles to an event the following day and the positive feedback by all who tasted it was overwhelming. I trust Wine Access will introduce it again.
Pretty much everything a good zin should be - fruity, not over extracted, and with a level of complexity that sets it apart. Very pleasurable bottle.
Excellent wine... lush, velvetty, with lots of fruit... lovely bouquet, nice on the palette, with a nice strong finish. One of the best wines I have gotten from Wine Access.... Not sure I can give it a five star rating, but it's darn close...
Nice color and hearty flavor. I like things little spicy and this fit the bill.
Have been buying this zin regularly. Never disappointed.
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