Elyse Zinfandel Korte Ranch Vineyard 2013, St. Helena, Napa Valley, California

2013 vintage – 89% Zinfandel, 11% Petite Sirah, Carignane, Valdiguie, and Grand Noir. From old, head-trained vines near St. Helena comes this dense, intense young wine. It’s all Napa in the claret-like structure that’s built upon firm, refined tannins. Shows waves of blackberries, black currants, dark chocolate and peppery spices. Picking the grapes at the right time is crucial – acid and sugar levels of the fruit must find harmony so that the finished wine achieves similar balance. Zinfandel grapes are picked early in the morning at the peak of ripeness, and arrive at the winery while still cold and glistening with dew. Gentle winemaking captures intense fruit flavors. After the fruit arrives at the winery, the stems are removed and the berries are gently crushed. The crusher has been modified to allow whole berries into the fermenter and to keep the seeds from being crushed and releasing harsh tannins into the juice. Whole berries make wine with forward fruit flavors. Small open top fermenters allow more flavor and color extraction. While in the press, the wine is gently separated from the skins and seeds after maceration. A Bladder press is used to ensure that the grape seeds do not get crushed and release harsh tannins. The wine is placed in oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aging. The Zinfandel and Petit Sirah are racked into American oak (22% new), and aged for 10-1/2 months. This wine is deep garnet colored with generous aromas of raspberry, black plum, caramel, cinnamon, clove, and orange zest. It offers a smooth entry with a broad mouthfeel leading to bright and lively flavors of sweet blackberry, blueberry, cracked black pepper, cassis, and hints of coffee, licorice, and spice.