Behind the Cork™ - Alexander Valley Vineyards Primitivo

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2013 Alexander Valley Vineyards Primitivo ($45)

This week’s Behind the Cork™ feature is a special one. During my last visit to Alexander Valley Vineyards I had the pleasure of spending time in the tasting room with Denise Gill, their Tasting Room Manager. And, I got to taste a bunch of really great wines.

This Alexander School Reserve Primitivo was one of several that I brought home.

The grapes are from their Wetzel Family Estate, located on the property settled in the 1840’s by Alexander Valley’s namesake, Cyrus Alexander. And, the Alexander School Reserve wines focus on some of the best and most unique lots of grapes that they harvest each year.

If you know Primitivo, you know that its DNA analysis proved that Zinfandel and Primitivo are the same variety. But, at the Wetzel Family Estate, they grow both side by side in a tiny hillside vineyard planted high above the winery, and they claim that flavors of each are dramatically different.

They state that the Primitivo has “loads of black fruit with great acidity, while the Zinfandel has jammy raspberry flavors and lots of spice.” I have to strongly agree!

This is a special one. Next time you are in Alexander Valley, you must stop at Alexander Valley Vineyards. In addition to a great bunch of wines offered in their tasting room, they have extensive wine caves that can be toured upon special request.

This Primitivo was a real pleasure. Look for it. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel

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2017 Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel ($16)

This handcrafted Old Vine Zinfandel from winemaker Randle Johnson comes from northern California’s Mendocino County.

Johnson has been the man behind Artezin’s wines since their inception in 2002. The vision behind Artezin is to honor the art of crafting Zinfandel from old vine plantings and to work with family owned, sustainable farms throughout Mendocino and Sonoma Counties.

This Zinfandel is blended with 15% Petite Sirah to yield a wine with nice fruit and subtle pepper notes. It is 100% barrel aged in one to two year old French oak. This results in soft tannin, and an easy finish.

The Hess Family Wine Estates portfolio is comprised of The Hess Collection, Hess Select, Artezin, Lion’s Head Collection all of which are from California as well as Colomé and Amalaya from Argentina.

This Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel fits right in with the Behind the Cork™ featured wines that are affordable and attainable. Look for this this one in your favorite wine shop and enjoy! Cheers!


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Donna White Communications

Behind the Cork™ - PARS Old Vine Zinfandel

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2016 PARS Old Vine Zinfandel ($8)

This was a recent unexpected fine. I really enjoy the wines of Amador County and that’s what caught my eye about this one. And, at $8, I had to give it a try.

The grapes of Amador County didn’t let me down. This is a nice Zinfandel, especially at the price. But it’s not typical. It’s not jammy or peppery. It quite light. Almost tending toward a Pinot Noir.

Unfortunately, there’s not much to be learned about this wine or the winery. The back label shows that it’s bottled by Avid Vineyard. And, the winemakers are listed as Robert Goyette & H. Namdar. Now, the fact that it’s “bottle by” Avid Vineyard would lead me to the conclusion they didn’t produce it. That’s Ok. Apparently, they bought the wine and put their own label on it. But, there doesn’t seem to be any trail to Avid Vineyard. Again, Ok.

But, a quick search for Robert “Bob” Goyette shows that he got started in winemaking in California in 1970 and, in 1979, he and noted winemaker Rod Berglund started La Crema Venera, known today as La Crema. Now, that’s a good label with a proven track record. Then, in 2005, he started his own wine brand, Robert Goyette Winery, producing wines from Sonoma Coast’s top Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Sonoma County’s top Cabernet Sauvignon.

Regardless of the origins of this PARS Amador County Old Vine Zinfandel, it’s a nice one and great value. If you happen to see this one, pick it up and give it a try. Cheers!

The Wines of Amador County

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California’s Gold Rush of the 1850s included the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. As fortune seekers flocked to the Sierras to prospect for gold, small wineries also began to appear. But the decline of gold mining in the late 1800s, followed by the start of Prohibition, brought devastation to this small wine community. But, some of the vineyards planted during that era survived and today are once again fueling the wineries of Amador County.

With some forty wineries in the region, there are some excellent wines being produced. Wineries such as Amador Cellars, Sobon, Turley, Helwig, Terra d’Oro (Montevina), Dillian and Renwood are just a few of the wonderful wineries producing great wines, some of which are distributed to wine sellers for your enjoyment.

Amador County wineries are focused on producing red wines including Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, and Petite Sirah, but you’ll also find a few whites and rosé wines being produced.

My ah-ha wine moment came years ago when I experienced an Amador County varietal that I’d heard of before my visit to Northern California. Upon learning it was a Barbera from Amador Cellars, my eyes were opened to more than just California Cab. And while finding a variety of Barberas continues to be a challenge outside of this region, you’ll “strike gold” in Amador County.

I’ll be featured a few of my favorites on Instagram (@EverWonderWine) in the coming days. But, if you are in Northern California, near Sacramento or Lake Tahoe, it’s worth a visit to Amador County, and it neighboring El Dorado County wineries. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the wines of these regions. Cheers!