I was fortunate to visit a very special block in California this summer- Rous Vineyard. Located in Lodi, California, this vineyard has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in the world. Planted in 1909 in the Mokelumne River sub-AVA of Lodi, this Zinfandel has survived 108 years on sandy loam soil. With a deep network of roots, these vines are grafted onto St. George rootstock, which is well-suited for dry farming and resistant to Phylloxera. As head-trained vines, they are short, knotted, and twisted, creating an almost chaotic free-for-all bush, in stark contrast to the typical well-trellised and manicured VTS (vine training system) employed in most vineyards in California.
You haven’t truly tasted Zinfandel until you have tasted heritage or ancient vines. Three winemakers produce distinctly different wine from this ten acre block – McCay Cellars (not yet released), Macchia ($25), and Ironstone Vineyards ($36). All three are elegant and vivacious wines, exhibiting the distinctive aroma of crushed violets, followed by tasting notes of ripe red cherry, blackberry, black plum, lavender, and a hint of spice, with a slightly oily and elongated finish, with medium tannins and medium plus acid. Very well integrated wines, that vary in intensity and prominence of fruit verses herbal notes. Three strings all the way!
I was lucky enough to visit this vineyard and taste these wines through the Wine Bloggers Conference of 2016. If you have a chance to get your hands on a bottle of truly “old vine zin” (check the wine’s tech sheet; there is no regulation of the term “old vine”) do not let go! Cheers!