Jaxon Keys Winery
2009 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
California: Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)
What we say
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Mission Codename: Purple Keys
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Jaxon Keys, secure an exclusive allocation of their Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel our Zin-loving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Jaxon Keys Winery
Wine Subject: 2009 Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley
Winemaker: Fred Nickel
Backgrounder: Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels, which are characterized by their refinement and balance, are the most popular with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest ruby hues, with a slightly darker core. Coloring is evenly concentrated, from core to the fine pink line at the edge of the glass. When swirled, the wine leaves behind tall, skinny, wine-stained tears.
Smell – Lush black fruit, earth and spice leap from the glass. In even proportion, the wine presents bold blackberry, black cherry, bramble, leather, tobacco, dried fall leaves, mocha, smoky brown spice, dried meats and black pepper.
Feel – Instantly grippy on entry. At the mid-palate, it feels smooth and softly round. Plush tannins and a bright acidity give the wine a mouth-filling feel. As the wine settles onto the palate, it gradually takes on a chewy feel.
Taste – Darkest cherry and smoky blackberry, dark spice and dried wild fennel make a powerful initial appearance. These bold flavors then give way to cocoa powder, dusty bramble, dried fall leaves, slate, bold and softly toasted oak. Black pepper appears 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 is an impressive Zinfandel at a terrific price. Jaxon Keys has come a long way since we first sampled them a few years ago. The addition of winemaker, Fred Nickel, is a welcome one. Fred, who has long made wines for some very prominent California wineries, has been called a winemaker, a scientist, a farmer and a wizard. Whether there is magic involved in his winemaking or not, we can simply say that we are impressed. Today’s spicy, darkly fruity wine is delicious, and classic Dry Creek Valley. Enjoy now, or cellar a few bottles for the next few years.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
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What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Silver Medal – Sonoma County Harvest Fair 2011
Silver Medal – San Francisco Chronicle 2012
About This Wine:
A beautiful combination of bright blackberry, ripe cherry and brambly fruit flavors is integrated with tannins and highlighted by cedar cigar box aromatics.
The first vintage off Warm Springs 110R rootstock planted in 1994 and budded over in 2008 with fruitwood off Sawyer vineyard Zin on Dry Creek Rd.
Harvest: Hand picked from Wilson’s Warm Springs Ranch, el 1600’ Morning grapes, Oct 9th approx 13 tons, 25.2/5.2/3.95
Winemaking: Stemmed and lightly crushed, no SO2, cold soaked for 4 days. Fermented with BM-45 yeast, max temp 82F. Gently pressed after 14 days on skins. To barrels in late Oct, one aeration rack in April, 17 months in Fr/Am oak. 12% new oak, unfined.
About The Winery:
Jaxon Keys’ wine making philosophy is to produce wines and brandies grown only from their estate vineyards. We believe our wines should showcase the unique characteristics of the vineyards, while building upon the classical interpretations of each varietal.
Jaxon Keys; A Historical Perspective on Grape Growing in Mendocino County
Tucked in the rolling hills of Mendocino County, just north of sleepy little Hopland, California, lies a rare gem of a winery. Combining knowledgeable tasting room staff with genuinely friendly service and great wines, Jaxon Keys Winery and Distillery provides Northern California travelers and wine tasters a grand tasting experience.
This family winery is comfortably small, but has all the amenities of a larger commercial winery. They offer wines in a variety of styles from big, full reds, to delightfully lighter wines such as their new release Barbera Rose and Sauvignon Blanc.
As noted in the Wine Spectator from January 9, 2009, Ken and Diane Wilson, the owners of Sonoma-based Wilson Winery and Mazzocco Winery, recently purchased this beautiful winery and its 1,200-acre property in Mendocino County. This new acquisition, which includes 121 acres of vineyards, adds another property to the Wilsons’ growing list of wineries.
Staring out in 1844 as a Mexican Land Grant, Don Fernando Feliz located his headquarters here. In 1858 Don Fernando sold 1580 acres to a Scottish immigrant to the United States, John McGlashen, who had come to California during the Gold Rush. He named his new property “Burnee Hill Ranch” (Burn in Scots meaning “on a hill”.) The ranch was used for sheep raising, and the original house, which will soon be the tasting room, was built then.
In 1889 John married Chicago native Ana and they had daughter Jeanne Wilson McGlashen (Interesting to note this is not the first time the “Wilson” name has been associated with this property. Jeanne married Ern Hawn, and the two ran the ranch after her parents passed away. Their son Floyd was an employee of the County of Mendocino, and said that his father liked the agricultural part of running the farm, and was the first person to put grapes in on the property, to use in home winemaking. In the 1950’s the ranch was sold to Bill Cook.
Bill held this for investment property and never lived at the ranch. The Lucchetti family then became involved, and planted the French Columbard in the vineyard alongside Hwy 101, that is used for the brandy making. These vines grew to be six feet tall, mimicking the prune trees that grew alongside! Eventually other varietals were planted and the winery established in 1985.
Now, Jaxon Keys is planted in Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, French Columbard, Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, Viognier and Grenache Noir. Our featured Zinfandel from Etta’s Block, comes from the 8.97 Zinfandel acres planted on the gentle south-east facing hillsides of the property.
Acidity: 6.3 grams/100 ml
Production: 164 Cases bottled 6/8/09