Alexander Valley

Further to the east, and thus far removed from the tempering effects of the Pacific’s ocean breezes, Alexander Valley Zinfandel excels in cooler years and can be marked by a certain degree of over-ripeness in the warmer vintages. The wines tend to be big and rich with supple tannins in a soft style. There is less spice and more black fruit in many Alexander Valley Zinfandels.

2007 Starry Night Alexander Valley Zinfandel Nervo Station Vineyard Old Vines 14.4%
Dark, creamy blackberry fruit is accented by top notes of licorice and smoke. This has a distinct caramel oak note running through it, as well giving the nose a rather patisserie quality to it. Seamless in the mouth, this is wonderfully well balanced with good acidity that slips by almost unnoticed and tannins that are merely a frame for the lovely fruit. This is full of creamy black cherry and blackberry fruit with a hint of strawberry thrown in for good measure. Big enough but bright and transparent at the same time. Simply wonderful fruit and excellent balance with a succulent, spicy, slightly stemmy finish. The stemmy/floral quality gains in intensity, adding attractive complexity. 92pts

2008 J. Rickards Alexander Valley Old Vine Zinfandel 1908 Brignoli Vineyard 14.5%
This is lovely on the nose with wonderful depth and complexity to the mineral, leather, black fruit and briary spice notes that are fresh and bright. Subtle floral and vanilla notes add additional depth and complexity. Smooth on entry with a slightly chewy feel. This comes at you in waves, with an initial burst of currant and strawberry fruit that quickly gains fine detailed notes of earth, a light gentle mossy tone, more briary wood and a slightly gamy top note. Really wonderful, energetic, aromatic finish. The wine seems almost a touch heavy in the mouth but then dances through the finish, though with nicely assertive tannins. Lots to like here, though the wine does have a slightly rustic edge to it, making it a good candidate for pairing with game and rich meats such as a nice thick rib-eye. 91pts

2009 Trentadue Alexander Valley Estate Zinfandel 14.8%

Rich on the nose with freshly crushed black cherry, mulberry and boysenberry fruit, framed with some vanilla and wood spice. Richly flavored with great fresh fruit notes that are well supported by judiciously used oak. Exuberant in the mouth and bursting with fresh berry fruits, though the wine remains fresh and precise in the mouth and onto the modest finish. Not the most complex or powerful but very well behaved. A wine I want to drink. 89pts

2009 Trentadue Alexander Valley Zinfandel La Storia 15%

Smoky yet subdued from the glass with a slow-to-emerge, layered nose that reveals woodsmoke, honey, crushed flowers, candied wild cherry and cedar aromas. Rich yet bright on entry, with very fine tannins offering excellent support to the fresh fruit. There is a subtle note of watermelon rind up front, which is joined by lovely spiced cherry notes on the mid-palate and a late balsamic note, lending this a Christmas spice character. It’s rather transparent on the palate with a restrained feel, though it is a full-bodied wine. The finish is both a touch hot and short with more of an oaked, shaved chocolate tone, yet the red berry fruits win out on the finale. 88pts

2009 Wine Guerrilla Alexander Valley Zinfandel Harris-Kratka Vineyard 14.8%
Brambly and chocolatey on first smell, with spicy blackberry and boysenberry fruit balanced by noticeably spicy toast and cinnamon notes. Liquory and meaty-smelling. Rich and soft on entry, with a broad feel in the mouth. The acid perks up on the mid-palate, which has nicely measured cherry fruit with attractive brambly elements and gentle woodspice notes that lead to the modest, earthy finish. 87pts

2007 J. Rickards Winery Alexander Valley Zinfandel Ancestor Selections 14.6%
High-toned black cherry and raspberry aromas are backed up by notes of dried fruits, leather and a hint of sweet flowers. This is rather big in the mouth, not a bruiser, just large-scaled and dense. The tannins are very soft and the fruit quite ripe but still feeling fairly fresh, with a slightly leathery palate full of dated, dried cherry and chocolate that tends to dominate the moderate finish. The tannins turn drying on the finale. A curious wine; seems a bit more mature than it should be and has an unusual blend of fresh feeling and mature flavors. 87pts

2007 Manzanita Creek Stealth Alexander Valley Zinfandel 16%

Intense and spicy on the nose with rich vanilla and sweet mocha notes over a confiture of cherry and blueberry. Soft and low amplitude on entry exhibiting a nice chewy character in the mouth with tobacco and coffee notes framing the blue-red berry compote fruit in the mouth. The finish is long, though it stays in the rather narrow band of flavors this shows on the palate. This is a big wine, well balanced, but without much detail. 87pts