Hawley Winery and Vineyards
Zinfandel • Ponzo Vineyard
California: Sonoma County
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 even better than that, as is the case with today’s wine from Hawley Winery.
Mission Codename: My Cousin Zinny
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Rove the hills and valleys of Sonoma County, recover an outstanding Zinfandel for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Hawley Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel
Winemaker: John Hawley
Backgrounder: Winemaker John Hawley has been making wine for some of the most prestigious wine brands in industry. In 1996 he built his own winery in the hills above the fabled Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. Today, John and his two sons handcraft small lots of exceptional wines that express the unique character of their region.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep dark, almost blood red, but clear with concentrated color right up to the edges of the wine and the slowest-moving and tightest leg-spacing we have ever seen on a Zinfandel. Very unique
Smell – Big white pepper with fruits of jammy raspberry, strawberry, and candy apple. Also present just beneath the surface are earthen aromas of forest floor and cedar bark
Feel – Slick across the lips and then springy and round on the tongue with medium mid-palate tannins
Taste – Deeply concentrated with intense sweet flavors of mixed berry, pepper, vanilla custard and baking spices
Finish – Sweet and extremely long with a warm dryness that heats the soul and invites more sipping!
Conclusion – This is a gigantic Zinfandel with over-the-top flavors and a rush of aromas that tell you that this wine is not messing around. Let it enjoy some time in the air, and a softness creeps in that tones the wine down, softening it up a little without making it lose its exciting and unique character. With its bold and concentrated flavors, this wine is a big-zin lover’s dream come true.
Live mission update : : Voice transcription stream capture : :
Lab tests of our proprietary handheld W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) Portable have been successful and I was given the honor of taking the device into the field for real-world testing.
The Top Secret W.I.N.E. Portable is a simple device; It uses a combination of sophisticated mass spectrometer sensors, GPS and Wine AI to scope out exceptional wines. Connected, real-time, to our W.I.N.E. mainframe at Central Command (Agent White really needs to stop calling it H.Q.), the new Portable promises to be an invaluable tool.
I’m here in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, where some of the best Zinfandels on record have come from. So far, this new device seems to be operating to spec. GPS systems check out, as do the GPS/Mainframe data-sharing. Each time I pass a vineyard or winery, the system accurately displays all publicly available data – along with our own, deeper, private intel.
I am now standing on a hillside that overlooks this gorgeous valley and am switching on the Mass Spec.
The built-in Mass Spec will take readings from the air and will literally sniff out our target wine. The data it collects will be collated and cross-compared against private and public records. In 60 seconds or less, it should point me toward the object of today’s desire, the perfect Zinfandel!
(audible beeps ensue)
Wait a minute. This can’t be right. According to these readings, the wine that was found is fraught with contradictions.
First, the quality rating is simply too high. Then there are genetic markers that suggest ‘this-century vines’. This last fact, when considered on its own is not odd, but the reading that says that the wine was made using 120 year-old winemaking techniques – which pre-date the grapes – and this cannot be correct.
I had high hopes for this device but I guess that its back to the lab with it.
Just for fun, let’s follow the device’s direction and see what wine – if any – it leads me to. Switching off recording.
[time elapsed : 18 minutes]
I am at the gate of the Hawley Family winery. According to the handheld, John Hawley and his sons make incredible wine. Bill himself has made wines in the area for more than a quarter century, for the likes of Clos Du Bois and Kendall-Jackson where he was founding winemaker and chief winemaker respectively. I’m going in for a closer look.
[elapsed time : 36 minutes]
The handheld works!
As I drove closer to the winery, the reason for the last-century reading was resolved: There, on the crushpad, antique manual basket press. Remarkable.
I got out of the car and was greeted by Austin, one of John’s 2 sons that work here at the winery. I revealed my identity and asked him if he would show me the Zinfandel I had been led to find. After tasting the wine I knew without a doubt that the device works!
This Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel is a total masterpiece. We sampled just-opened bottles and bottles that had had a full day of airing opened-then-sealed bottles. Both examples were great, but the opened one was fantastic.
For proof that the W.I.N.E. Handheld works, pick up a few bottles of this great wine.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Hawley Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
*"Corked", a film by Paul Hawley and Ross Clendenen, to premier at Sonoma Valley Film Festival. *
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About The Wine:
This Zinfandel is soft and juicy with aromas of white pepper, raspberries, strawberries and vanillin oak notes.
About The Vineyards:
Ponzo vineyard is located just outside the town limits of Healdsburg, along the Russian River at the mouth of Dry Creek. It’s gravelly bench-lands have produced many award winning wines. The 2006 growing season began with a late, wet spring. September rains caused a lot of concern and cool temperatures extended the ripening season into late October. The long “hang time” allowed for the development of exceptional flavors in the 2006 Zinfandel. Brix at harvest 24.5.
The Zinfandel grapes were crushed and de-stemmed into one-ton, open top fermentors. The juice was chilled with dry ice for extended maceration. After one week, the fermentors were moved outdoors to warm up and the wild yeasts begun the fermentation. Commercial yeast was later added to insure the wine fermented to dryness. We punched down the skins every couple hours to maximize extraction. When fermentation was nearing dryness we pressed out directly to barrels. The wine was aged for nine months in a mixture of French and American oak barrels and was racked from barrel to barrel every three months to soften the tannins, develop fruit character and clarify the wine. 5% Petite Sirah from Dry Creek Valley was blended before bottling.
Appellation: Sonoma County
Varietal Composition: 95% Zinfandel 5% Petite Sirah
Harvest Date: October 13, 2006
Bottling Date: July 12, 2007
Cases Bottled: 640
Release Date: Jan 1, 2008