Fritz Underground Winery
2005 Estate Reserve Zinfandel
Zinfandel • Fritz Estate Vineyard
California: Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)
What we say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Fritz Winery.
Mission Codename: Underground Atrisans
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate the Fritz – and uuncover their winemaking secrets
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Fritz Winery
Wine Subject: 2004 Dry Creek Valley Estate Reserve Zinfandel
Winemaker: Christina Pällmann
Backgrounder: When The Wine Spies learned of Fritz Winery, we were instantly attracted by their tag line, Underground Winery. Every good spy knows that its necessary to go underground from time to time, not only as a means of evasion from baddies, but also a means of effective wine aging. Today, join Agent Red as he visits the Fritz subterranean Winery – and discovers today’s amazing Zinfandel
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – A beautiful-looking wine that starts clear at the edges, then turns a deep and luscious garnet with a dark heart. When swirled, the wine has a tightness that settles the wine very quickly, leaving behind skinny legs that crawl down the glass
Smell – An aromatic and earthy rush of deep smoky plum, blackberry, black cherry, mushroom, leather and cedar with mildest cigar
Feel – Initially delicate and light with a slimness and a coolness, then the wines soft tannins take hold and provide a more rich and full feel
Taste – Cranberry, briar and jammy mixed berries with nettle, mild oak and soft earth with slight spice
Finish – Starts tart but then sweetens as it softens, with lingering flavors and a slight dryness
Conclusion – This is not a monster Zin as can be found in many California offerings. There is no heavy-handed oak, brash pepperiness or syrupy berry here, just fine fruit, a terrific mouth-feel and a balanced and more delicate flavor profile that I find both not usual and very delicious. Artisan Crafted can seem like marketing hyperbole, but in the case of Fritz Winery, where winemaking is treated as fine art, the term works.
“Do you smell BBQ?”, I asked.
“Shhhh. I’m calculating soil density. If I’m off by just a little, our tunnel could cave in on us!”
My companion on this particular mission, codename: The Mole, is an Asset I have worked with before. Usually, he’s reliable and calm. A model asset indeed. Today, however, I’m afraid he’s gone off the deep end.
As I raised my binoculars to my eyes, I said, “Honestly, Mole, I don’t think it’s necessary to tunnel into the Fritz wine cave. I know these people, they’re happy to share their wines with us. Besides, they’re expecting us for lunch. Do you smell that? Definitely BBQ.”
The distance meter in my wine-oculars (clever name, _right?) read, ‘500 meters’. At this distance, the mound that marks the entrance to the subterranean wine cave is clearly visible. Further scanning reveals the object of my immediate desire, Fritz Winery’s fabled outdoor Barbecue. Fritz’ invitation to lunch and Zinfandel was something I had been looking forward to all week.
In his nasal voice, The Mole asks, “But, Red. Er, I mean Mr. Agent… SIR!”
“Its okay to call me ‘Red’, honest,” I reassured him for the umpteenth time.
“But Sir Red, I already requisitioned the drilling rig, and hybrid dump trucks,” he said.
As patiently as I could, I explained that we were invited by Fritz Winery and that his reinforced system of tunnels would not be necessary.
He started to protest, but was interrupted by a low growl. He froze. I grinned.
“It’s my stomach,” I said. “Don’t you smell that? Let’s go!”
He harrumphed annoyingly but followed along. This was supposed to me a reward for The Mole, for ‘job well done’ on previous missions. If it were not for The Mole’s resourcefulnesses and dedication to our tradecraft, I would have left him behind, leaving more food for me.
We arrived at the winery, just in time for lunch, beginning with their amazing Estate grown Reserve Zinfandel. the food was excellent, the wine was better, and the people here at the winery are warm very sincere about producing exceptional wines – in small quantities.
The Fritz approach to making wine is one that I have deep respect for; their dedication to winemaking as a form of artistic expression shows in their wines and in this beautiful winery.
Thank you, Fritz Winery! The Wine Spies are now lifetime fans.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Fritz Winery Estate Vineyards, where today’s Zinfandel was born and crafted, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
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Awards & Accolades:
91 Points – Wine Enthusiast – Fritz has a good track record with Dry Creek Valley Zin, one of the variety’s best natural homes in California. This is their most expensive bottling in years, and it’s quite good. Rich and savory, with fine, ripe tannins, it shows flavors of raspberries, cherries, cassis, licorice and Asian spices, with a meaty, leathery edge. Best now and for the next several years. — S.H. (2/1/2008)
About This Wine:
Our second vintage of Reserve Zin is just as bold as our first. With a deep burgundy color and spicy tar aromatics this wine can withstand hearty fare. The palate boasts full black fruit with soft tannins and balanced acidity for a lingering finish.
Winemaker’s Tasting Notes:
VISUAL: Red, black, burgundy.
NOSE: Tar & spices with black fruit.
PALATE: Full black fruit. Big but soft tannins. Good acid balance drives the long soft finish.- Christina Pallmann
About The Winery:
Pretend that you are far away in the Northern California wine country tucked away in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. High upon a hill nestled into the side of a hill is our subterranean winery. Jay and Barbara Fritz purchased this pristine property in 1970. After spending get away weekends from San Francisco at this rich Sonoma property for many years, the Fritz family decided to build a winery in 1979.
Today our credo is to approach winemaking as an art form. Art, in its truest sense, inspires a shift in consciousness. Our mission is to create wines of genuine artistry, capable of transforming the way we think about the potential of Sonoma County’s premier appellations.
The new generation of Fritz wines began with a commitment to unequivocal quality. Since 1996, changes at Fritz Winery have been swift and dramatic: Volume has been slashed by two-thirds to only 12,000 cases per vintage. New winemaking equipment is both esoteric and state-of-the-art. An underground cave ages all red wines. The vast majority of wines are vinified on native yeast. All white wines are currently single-vineyard designates, with red wines now in barrel soon to follow suit.
The result? Cognoscenti now rank Fritz wines among California’s top tier producers. Our limited edition wines now command a following among serious collectors. One hundred per cent of Fritz wines are sold on allocation. And the best is yet to come.
Keep in mind that our vineyards are our greatest asset. Like the most celebrated wines of France, our limited edition single-vineyard wines showcase the singular expression of each superb viticultural site.
From the perfect microclimate of the Dry Creek Valley, we produce Sauvignon Blanc, Old Vine Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Since we have the best of both worlds, we also have property in the very cool growing region of the Russian River Valley where we produce world class single vineyard Chardonnays.
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley
Special Designation: Barrel Select
Varietal: Zinfandel Church and Shenandoah clone
Harvest Date: October 1st, 2005
Processing: Open Top Fermentors with Punch Downs, Partial Whole Berry.
Aged: 7 months in 100% French Oak, 60% new
Bottled: May 22nd, 2006
Acid at Bottling: 0.754g/100ml
Residual Sugar: Dry
Production: Only 278 cases produced