When considering the quality of a vineyard site, one important thing I look for is good soil drainage. It is pretty much a universal quality of the top vineyard sites in the world (with a very few exceptions in certain vintages). As I said last year in context of the low rainfall years, these well drained sites soak the water deep into the soil profile making very efficient use of what rainfall there is. The flip side to this is that in wetter years, excess rainfall is able to move through more quickly and allow oxygen into in the root zone. In short, these well drained sites are less affected by extreme conditions. It’s not rocket science, it’s more common sense. Vineyards like my father’s that have stood the test of time tend to have these characteristics.
When I wrote about this wine for the Futures offering last summer, I was very excited about its potential. Upon re-evaluating this wine on the way to the bottling tank and at bottling, my enthusiasm has only grown stronger. These well established vines on well-drained soil are in perfect balance with the environment, producing no more fruit than they can bring to maturity in a given year (sometimes less). In dry years the grapes have amazing concentration and structure to deliver great pleasure over many, many years. Not only did this vintage lend itself to our stylistic pocket of relative restraint and balance of elements, but it has sufficient ‘juicy, up-front fruit’ to allow earlier term enjoyment, especially with foods that pair well with wines having good structure.
Antonio Galloni recently visited and tasted thru the lineup. I’ll let him describe his take on the wine from barrel prior to bottling: “The 2014 Zinfandel Old & Mature Vines Scherrer Vineyard is a wine with tremendous potential. The flavors are bright, focused and wonderfully nuanced throughout. Hints of lavender, violet and plum add further complexity, but it is the total package that really impresses here. (91-94 points)” What it may lack in quantity is made up for it in concentration.