Merryvale Vineyards2003 Zinfandel, Jan Vineyard
(St. Helena ~ Napa Valley)
This was one of longtime Merryvale winemaker Steve Test’s last wines before going out on his own. What a wine it is, too. Everything you’d expect from a Napa Valley Zinfandel is in place here. It’s big, and given time, this purports to be a great wine. There’s juicy blackberry and wild cherry. It’s simply beautiful. Hold onto it for a couple of years and then love it for the next 20 years.
According to the technical notes on the wine, the vines at the Jan Vineyard on Mills Lane in St. Helena are “very old.” They are head trained and dry-farmed – the way Zinfandel used to be grown and tended to. In the cellar, the wine was made with minimal invasiveness including native yeasts and no fining or filtering. The grapes were picked at a very low 22.9 degree brix, but the final listed alcohol is a surprising 15 percent. However, the latter is hardly noticed.
The wine was aged for 17 months in 22 percent new French oak barrels. There were only 202 cases produced.
This Zinfandel was also selected as an Appellation Signature Wine by a panel of St. Helena winemakers in an Appellation Discovery tasting on June 22, 2006.
Reviewed September 15, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.
Other Awards & Accolades
AppellationAmerica - "Appellation Signature" selection
Great color with cedar, bittersweet chocolate, black currants, strawberry, cinnamon, allspice aromas; mineral overtones and very tannic, but nonetheless, it’s well-structured, albeit a touch out of balance at this point with a bit too much acidity and drying on the finish. But a classic zin.
(St. Helena Appellation Discovery Tasting: June 22, 2006)
Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.