2005 Reserve Zinfandel
Zinfandel • Chiles Valley Estate Vineyard
California: St. Helena (Napa)
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Mission Codename: 2000 by 1000
Operative: Agent Red
Objective:Send Agent Red back to RustRidge Ranch and Winery, where he has been granted exclusive access to their private library. Sample their secret selections and choose the finest one for our deserving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: RustRidge Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Reserve Zinfandel – Napa Valley – Chiles Valley
Winemaker: Susan Meyer
Backgrounder:The Chiles Valley AVA is a very distinctive grape growing region the northeastern part of the Napa Valley. It is a small, narrow and very steep growing region that sits between St. Helena to the west and Lake Berryessa to the east. The region warm climate and well drained soils provide great growing conditions for Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes for today’s Gold Medal-winning wine was grown at 1000 feet above the valley floor.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby hues, with a slightly darker core. Coloring is evenly concentrated, from core to edge. When swirled, the wine instantly leaves behind tight clusters of branching, wine-colored legs.
Smell – Vibrant red fruit, spice and bramble leap from the glass. Cherry, smoky blackberry jam, bramble bush, dried leaves, mocha and anise take the lead. These are underpinned by exotic spice, sweetwoods, cured meats and black pepper.
Feel – Instantly grippy on the attack and smooth across the mid-palate where it feels almost silky. Fine-grained tannins and a bright acidity give the wine a mouth-filling feel. As the wine settles onto the to palate, is takes on a chewy feel that is felt along the gums and lips.
Taste – Darkest cherry and smoky blackberry make a powerful initial appearance. These bold flavors merge with mocha, dried fall leaves, bramble, slate, spice and toasty oak. Black pepper shows off a piquant tang at the very end.
Finish – Very long and very flavorful, with black fruit yielding to red fruit and the wines earthen components of bramble, oak and spice. At the very end, these give way to slate and pepper notes.
Conclusion – This impressive Zinfandel is a dark, bold, mouth-filling wine that drives big fruit, spice and earthen components into a long, chewy finish. Once again, RustRidge impresses us their ability to craft great Chiles Valley Zinfandel. If you love big Zins, this one is sure to please. We loved how easily it paired with our exotic-spiced Shishkabobs, complimenting them, beautifully. Today’s 2005 Estate Reserve Zinfandel from our friends at RustRidge is a highly-recommended delight.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Susan Meyer
WINE EDUCATION: On the job while I took on RustRidge from Merry Edwards and Ken Rosemblum
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Always here at RustRidge
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Handle the grapes as little as possible and let the fruit shine through the wine.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Wine with the spirit of a thoroughbred.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1992
AGENT RED: Greetings, Susan. We are thrilled to be showing your delicious 2005 Reserve Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
SUSAN MEYER: Thanks, Agent Red. It is good to be back with you, once again!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
SUSAN: Wine has always been a part of my life and RustRidge specifically since 1972
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
SUSAN: Kent Rosemblum
RED: Who do you make wine for?
SUSAN: The people – our fans
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
SUSAN: Our 2005 Reserve Zinfandel proves that a really BIG Zin can also be a well-balanced food wine. It has loads of delicious, juicy fruit, perfectly complemented by ripe tannins that give it backbone, which other big Zins just don’t have.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
SUSAN: This is a Steak Zin. Drink it with a grilled Porterhouse and you’ll be amazed how perfect a food wine Zinfandel can be.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley sub-appellation of Chiles Valley so special?
SUSAN: It’s the altitude and the soil. We’re about 1,000 feet above the Napa Valley floor, which gives us hotter days and colder nights. During the summer, we sometimes have a 40 degree difference from day to night! We get delicious, concentrated fruit flavors and ripe, grippy tannins from the heat and juiciness from the cold. The Chiles Valley soil is something really special. It gives a spice to our wines that nobody else has.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
SUSAN: I’m still very hands-on with the 2011 vintage. The grapes came in really late this year, so it’s going to be until January before I get a chance to rest at all.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
SUSAN: With good company, good food and a warm heart.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
SUSAN: The real passion here at RustRidge begins in our vineyards: by committing to both dry and organic farming, we’re allowing the most honest and true characteristics to shine through in each of our wines from the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnays to varietal Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the RustRidge Ranch and Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Silver Medal Winner – Orange County Fair Wine Competition 2009
About This Wine:
Aromas and flavors of black raspberry and roasted red chile, with a touch of cinnamon , earth and saddle leather. An elegant and complex wine with a sweet fruit core and a smooth dry finish.
About The Winery:
The secluded property, once a large thoroughbred horse ranch, was purchased by Susan Meyer’s family in 1972. Now it reflects Jim & Susan’s two passions: wine and horses. They continue to breed and race thoroughbreds and each spring; just about the time new buds form on the grape vines, new foals are born.
The grape vines were planted in the mid 70’s to Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The winery was founded by Stan and Grant Meyer in 1985. It is housed in a renovated cattle barn. Winemaker Susan Meyer and her husband, Jim Fresquez, took over the reins of the operation in 1990.
Helping Susan handcraft the estate-bottled wines produced by RustRidge is distinguished consultant winemaker Kent Rosenblum. Vines are organically grown and dry farmed. The grapes are used by Susan and Kent to create RustRidge’s spectrum of award-winning wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
The region’s special microclimate is integral to the character of RustRidge wines. The Chiles Valley lies approximately 1,000 feet above the Napa Valley floor.
The day time climate here is similar to that of the Oakville and Rutherford areas; however, the temperature is several degrees cooler at night. The cooler nights and the higher elevation delay bud-break which occurs two to three weeks later than the rest of Napa Valley. As a result, the grapes are harvested later than most other grapes from Napa Valley which, in part, lends distinctive flavor and quality to the wines. The reds are redolent of black cherry, raspberry and spice, while the white wines show distinct flavors and aromas of green apple, ripe pear, pineapple and citrus.
TA: .70 g/100 ml
Alcohol: 14.8% by volume
Brix at Harvest: 26 degrees
Barrel Type: French oak barrels
Barrel Aging: Aged over 3 years
Date Bottled: April 10, 2009
Production: 392 cases