Girard Winery2004 Old Vine Zinfandel
Why can’t they all make Zinfandel like this, for gosh sake? Why does it have to be 16 percent alcohol and a pectin-laden jelly jar? But thank goodness for winemaker Marco DiGiulio and the folks at Girard. What we have here is a Zinfandel that’s got all the elements – great fruit and relatively (especially for a Zinfandel) low alcohol. In other words, it’s a Zin with the convertible top down so that you and your senses aren’t assaulted. Instead, as you wend your way through a bottle, you’re in for a smooth, yet joyful ride.
Thank goodness too, that Girard found the wayward Blue Ridge Vineyard. Located on the backside of Mt. Vaca eight miles east of the city of Napa as the crow flies and east of Vacaville on the Solano County side. At 2,700 feet, Bob Harris’ vineyard is perhaps the highest in the Napa Valley.
What it produces from its 35-year-old vines (that astonishingly used to go into Beringer’s white Zin!), is a wine of great restraint made from fruit that’s brilliantly grape-y without being overblown. The wild blueberry/blackberry flavors are brambly and what you’d expect from a high-altitude, poor-soil spot with vines that may or may not be considered old, depending upon with whom you speak.
The wine is sweet without being too sweet. The wine is big, without being too big. The wine is full of tannin, but not too much that you can’t touch it for a century. It has enough acidity to go with that tannin to keep it going for about 10 years. In other words, what we have here is an almost perfect Zinfandel.
In addition to the Blue Ridge fruit, there is Petite Sirah from a variety of vineyards. The wine was unfiltered and unfined and spent 18 months in French, American and Hungarian barrels (35-40 percent of which were new). Perhaps best of all, at 24 bucks, it’s the steal of the year from the Napa Valley.
Reviewed September 18, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.
Other reviewed wines from Girard Winery
2003 Cabernet Franc
(Napa Valley)Alan Goldfarb 10/4/2006
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.