Grape: 91% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah
Region: Amador, Mendocino and Sonoma County, California
Hess Collection winery, a significant Napa Cabernet Sauvignon producer, came out with their first Zinfandel release few years back. I remember tasting this first vintage with its winemaker, and I still see his face full of excitement. It was a huge hit among us, the wine sales crowd, and our customers as well. I think Zinfandel was a grape that was poking Randle for quite some time, until he finally accepted the challenge.
The result was a wonderful, full bodied Zinfandel, full of classic jammy fruit seasoned with spicy tones like nutmeg or black pepper. The first vintage of Artezin Zinfandel had 14,5% alcohol level (this is back in 2005, when high alcohol wasn’t so common yet), but it didn’t lack elegance and complexity. A new Artezin was a very impressive, affordable wine and a huge compliment to already high quality Hess family’s portfolio.
At that time we asked Randle Johnson why he decided to make Zinfandel (until then Hess produced top notch Cabernet Sauvignon wines and Chardonnays only). With his passion for Californian heritage he told us with a smile on his face: “I just had to try it.” Well, we were glad he did. What I didn’t know then was the fact, that prior his work for Hess Collection winery, he was producing Zinfandel in Mount Veeder. He knew the traditional Californian grape well and it was only question of time for him to let it shine again.
Few weeks ago I was excited to taste a newest vintage of this, now well established, wine. Indeed, I wasn’t disappointed. Artezin, the art of Zinfandel, is a showcase of warm Amador County, where the most of the fruit came from. Combined with Sonoma valley fruit that enriches the blend with noticeable spice, this Zinfandel is balanced, rich and jammy. Grapes were harvested from 3 family owned, sustainably-farmed vineyards. The final blend then aged in 100% French oak barrels until its current release.
Dark ruby color with a strong aroma of ripe dark fruit, dried plums and black cherries. On the palate I tasted a very pleasant, rich fruit like dark cherries, blackberries, ripe plums with a spicy notes. Generous tannins are a typical for Zinfandel (it creates its mouth-feel sensation), but not always this velvety and creamy as in this wine. Enough acidity to balance it all out. Lovely, very impressive Zinfandel for upcoming winter.
Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $ 18.00