2014 Deep Sea Zinfandel, Arroyo Grande Valley
Tasting Notes: This Zinfandel is 100% varietal and nothing short of delicious from start to finish. Plush, rich seamless textures are folded into flavors of blueberry, chocolate, strawberry and plum. Smooth but firm tannins linger from the first sip to the last. Only 242 cases made.
Harvest History: The 2014 Deep Sea Zinfandel has finally arrived! John Conway really led the charge for us making another zinfandel from this amazing vineyard site. The delicious 2007 vintage, and the critically praised 2008 Zinfandel which won multiple awards including a Chairman’s award for best of Show, convinced John that we needed to revisit the varietal. John had a very specific style in mind, one that was true to form of the past vintages but also showcased the intense varietal qualities of this grape and this particular vineyard.
The Potrero vineyard in Arroyo Grande is planted at 1,200ft above sea level, betwixt two mountainous ridgelines. It is somewhat difficult to get to, because of the narrow road that leads up to the site.
The vines are planted in sandy loam soils, with no irrigation other than natural rainfall. This often means that the vines struggle for water. Lack of water has a positive effect on the quality of the grapes, because the vine is not spending its minimal resources on growing bigger, but rather into setting a small, concentrated crop of berries.
2014 was a very good year for the Potrero Vineyard despite the continuing drought. This vineyard site does a magical job of maintaining desirable acid levels while slowly building the sugars in the grapes. In fact, 2014 gave us spectacular flavors and textbook harvest numbers.
One of the finicky qualities of Zinfandel is its’ tendency for the cluster to ripen unevenly. All too often it gets harvested too early, and the finished wine shows green, unripe notes, or it is picked too late and the result is a non-descript red wine with too much alcohol. One of the interesting aspects of this dry farmed vineyard is that is ripens more evenly, and we were able to pick it at an optimum sugar levels. We pulled in a little bit more than 4 tons of our dry farmed Zinfandel. We use a whole berry fermentation regime which can be a challenge if the Zinfandel is picked ultra-ripe because the skin can break down and get mushy when hand sorting. That was not the case for this batch. Firm little black pearls were sorted through by hand, with no damage and were quickly moved into the fermentation vessel while still cold from the early morning pick.
We love two-stage yeast inoculations and this was no different. We choose Prelude yeast in the beginning and RP15 for the middle and end of the fermentation. The must was gently pumped over in the beginning then later switched into morning and afternoon punch-downs. The plan for this Zinfandel was to get it slowly fermenting at a tad lower temperature trying to avoid a prolonged period of high ferment temps which could lead to over extraction and potential bitter notes. From the beginning John wanted to match the unique creaminess we had with the 2008 vintage by using both new French oak and a small amount of new American oak. Our overall percentage of new oak was 40%. This blend was aged in barrel for roughly 16 months then bottled unfined and unfiltered.