As my mother used to say when I would take her up to Brandlin Vineyard, high in the hills of Mount Veeder,“ this is as close to heaven as I am going to get.” It’s a magnificent and magical setting that ultimately finds its way into the wine. There are many well-made technically sound wines out in the marketplace, but few can capture the soul and personality offered by Brandlin. Since 1991 I have worked with this vineyard, and each vintage I can feel the energy and excitement because I know these are grapes that will never disappoint!
In the early 1920s, Henry Brandlin and sons Richard and Chester began planting vines on an eastern exposure hillside 1200 feet above the Napa Valley floor. They adhered to the regimen of “filed blend”—a mix of different varieties. Today these are probably the oldest vines on Mount Veeder, and they continue to produce intensely flavored grapes, growing for all these years without any irrigation other than the winter and spring rains. The vines are head-trained, independent of any trellis, and do not require much manipulation.
2018 was a marvelous growing season. Beautiful spring conditions followed abundant rainfall in the winter, resulting in even fruit set. We couldn’t have asked for more ideal summer and fall weather--moderate temperatures throughout. Neither heat spikes nor rain interfered at harvest, resulting in long hang time and beautiful and balanced fruit that we could pick at our leisure. One of the best vintages of the decade.
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.
Once again, a classic expression of Brandlin Zinfandel. Youthful, vibrant, and medium ruby in color, the nose greets you with bramble fruits, white pepper, allspice, clove, and a touch of vanilla. The flavors reflect the nose with more wild berry notes, cranberry, and a hint of coffee. The tannins are subtle and integrated and lead to a lip-smacking finish. Plenty of pleasure here.
Here's another testament to the awesome 2018 vintage!