59% Zinfandel, 39% Carignane, 2% Petite Sirah
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Mazzoni Home Ranch
This century-old vineyard consistently produces one of our finest Advance Tasting Program wines. Rooted deep in gravelly loam, the vines survive on natural water resources—which were scarce this growing season. Moderate summer weather ripened a decent-size crop by late August. For eleven days, the fully crushed grapes fermented on naturally-occurring yeasts in a tank fitted with a submerged grid. (This nineteenth-century practice holds the skins a few inches under the surface of the juice, for gentle extraction.) Uninoculated secondary fermentation was complete by mid-October, and we racked to barrel ahead of schedule. Use of tempered two-, three-, and five-year old american barrels kept oak influence to a minimum. Zinfandel’s briary fruit dominates this superb field blend. Carignane adds elegance and bright acidity—petite sirah, spice and deep color. Delicious now, this exceptional vintage will be at its best over the next five years.
Giuseppe Mazzoni and his fourteen-year-old brother-in law, Abramo Trusendi, arrived from Italy in 1898 and went straight to work at the Italian Swiss Colony vineyard cooperative in Asti, California. In 1899, the two managed to acquire hillside acreage nearby overlooking Alexander Valley from the west. By 1910 they had built a winery and begun making wine. Except for the Prohibition years, the Mazzoni family produced wine there until 1978. They were great believers in the contribution each varietal in a field blend could make to the finished wine. Accordingly, their century-old zinfandel is interplanted with carignane, which adds elegance and lively acidity, and petite sirah, which provides spice and depth. The Mazzoni Home Ranch was purchased in 1988 by Niccolo and Flora Oltranti. They have replanted parts of the abandoned hillside, and in some years we will include a small amount from these young zinfandel vines.
Rainfall: 35 inches (below average)
Bloom: Mid-May (normal)
Weather: Dry spring, typical warm, dry summer, with no sustained heat spells.
Harvest Date: 27 August
Grapes: Average Brix 25.1˚
Fermentation: No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary, daily pump-overs. Pressed at eleven days.
Aging: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (0% new, 37% two years old, 63% three to five years old).
Time in barrel: Fifteen months
All Mazzoni vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum effective sulfur (25 ppm at crush; 80 ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Average Rating: 89.0
No. of Tasting Notes: 77
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