Here I am, writing my 25th Brandlin Zinfandel fact sheet. Needless to say, it is a very emotional, evocative, and humbling experience. More than anything else, this vineyard and the wines I have produced from it truly define my life and career in the wine business. I can’t help but recall the hundreds of visits I’ve made up the bumpy gravel road to this spectacular property, and the hours I spent with Chester and Richard Brandlin, and all the others who accompanied me on those visits over the years.
I feel honored and rewarded to have savored those experiences that in the not too distant future will sadly disappear from the fabric of Napa Valley.
I remember my first Brandlin harvest in 1991, driving my 4WD Nissan pickup that was new that year. Fearing that sugars might be a little too high (24 brix!!) Chester and Richard knew exactly where to go for something a little less ripe to balance things out. Yes, the good old days.
2015—a dry and warm spring resulted in early budbreak and one of the earliest harvests on record. The drought and uneven fruit set produced crops that in some areas of Napa Valley were half of normal. Remarkably, these old dry-farmed vines on Brandlin yielded tonnage virtually identical to that of 2014.
I like to ferment our Zinfandels at temperatures slightly lower than those for Bordeaux reds to accentuate the zesty and forward fruit character of the variety. Aging exclusively in Burgundian French oak barrels adds complexity as well as refinement to the wine.
Brilliant dark ruby, the nose of our 2015 is pretty, fun, and serious all at the same time. Berries and cream, cardamom, and rose petal entwine in this complex package. Lush and mouth-filling while the perfect tannins and weight lift the spice flavors to a lengthy and refreshing finish. Destined to last for many years.
Happy 25th to all of you! I am pleased to share with you our 2015 Brandlin Zinfandel, a wine that I believe will be one of the gems of the decade.