Each time I am in Napa, I visit a vineyard I have never been or try a wine I have never had. Today, I was able to do both. I arrived at Robert Biale Vineyards not knowing what to expect. I was surprised and delighted to see that we were tasting 3 Zinfandels and a Petite Sirah – some of my favorite grapes in the valley.
The first wine we tried was the 2013 Black Chicken Zinfandel. These grapes are grown on the property in the Oak Knoll District, from vines planted in the 1930’s. I love old vine zins and this did not disappoint. The wine is still “young” and I can imagine will only get better as it ages. “Black Chicken” got its name, when a young Aldo Biale started making and selling zins and needed a code word for customers to purchase the wine – since he was under age. The second wine was a 2013 Varozza Vineyard Zinfandel. These grapes are from further north in St. Helena. The team at Biale like to refer to the area as “Sexy St. Helena”. They grapes grown here are velvety and smooth. I’d say it was a little “fruit forward” than the first a little more mineral and dirt (which I certainly prefer.)
The last Zinfandel we tried as 2013 Monte Rosso Vineyard. Located in Sonoma Moon Mountain, this wine is produced from vines planted in 1880’s (yes…old vine zin again). The red soil in Sonoma provides a bold, dirty, spicy flavor – which out of the 3 this was my favorite.
At this point, we have had awesome zins, get distracted and venture off from our set tasting. Our generous hosts, open a bottle of 2013 25th Anniversary Field Blend. This wine is a throwback to a time when other varietals of grapes were grown in the same lots as the zinfandel. You couldn’t sort them, so they were picked and co-fermented together like a stew. This wine is produced with 6 different varietals, has a nice spice with an alcohol finish…when this matures, it is going to be amazing.