Zinfandel – The fascinating history of ‘California’s grape’

Zinfandel – The fascinating history of ‘California’s grape’

By Allison Levine
Napa Valley Register


Croatian winemaking history began around 2200 B.C.; California’s winemaking history started in 1779. All of our vitis vinifera grapes in California came from somewhere else. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are from Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux, Tempranillo and Albariño from Spain, Barbera and Nebbiolo from Piemonte. But when it came to Zinfandel, for years we thought Zinfandel was “our” grape.

Zinfandel did not have a European connection like the other grapes mentioned above. There were no grapes in Europe named Zinfandel. In the 1970s, Primitivo, from Southern Italy, was thought to be Zinfandel. But, a couple decades later when they finally had the tools to do a DNA test on grapes, it was found that while Zinfandel and Primitivo were genetically identical, Zinfandel did not come from Primitivo. In fact, Primitivo, it was found, was probably introduced to Italy 200 to 300 years ago. But, where did Zinfandel/Primitivo come from?

This is where the story gets interesting. We know the origin of Zinfandel because of the hard work of Dr. Meredith, a grapevine geneticist. Today she makes Lagier Meredith wines on Mount Veeder, but for 22 years, she was a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the UC Davis.

During her tenure, she did ground-breaking research on the parentage of grape varieties. Using DNA typing, she and her team identified the lineage of Cabernet Sauvignon (Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc), Chardonnay (Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc) and Syrah (Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche). And, of course, she determined the origins of Zinfandel.

“Learning how grapes are related gives us information for deduction and enables us to dispel many myths,” Meredith explained when I had the privilege to meet her on a recent trip to Napa where she shared the story of Zinfandel.

“Zinfandel was thought of as the California grape, but that implied that it had no history,” Meredith said. “It was obviously a European grape but not from France, Italy, Germany, Spain or Portugal. It was from farther east in Europe.”

She also noted that because of the large leaves of Zinfandel, it had to be from Southern European, because Northern Europe grapes have smaller leaves. From Puglia, Italy, where Primitivo is from, they looked across the Adriatic to the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.

Meredith wanted to apply the DNA tools she had to find the home of Zinfandel. But, she did not know anyone in Croatia. She reached out to winemaker and Croatian vintner Mike Grgich for help.

Grgich introduced Meredith to Plavi Mali, the predominant red grape grown on the Dalmatian Coast. Meredith’s research found that Plavic Mali and Zinfandel are similar but are not the same.

Then, serendipity stepped in. Out of the blue, in the fall of 1997, Ivan Pejic, a plant geneticist from the University of Zagreb in Croatia sent Meredith an email asking for her help. He and his colleague Edi Maletic were asking for her DNA tools to understand indigenous grapes of Croatia. They began to work together. In 2000 they discovered that Plavic Mali is the direct offspring of Zinfandel and Dobričić, an ancient variety from the Adriatic island of Šolta.

Further research led them to a vineyard northwest of Split where they found, in one vineyard, nine vines out of 9,000 vines of Crljenak Kaštelanski, also locally known as Kratosija and Pribidrag. The grape was almost extinct and only a handful of vines were left in the entire country.

They also found preserved grapevine leaves, called Tribidrag, in a museum in Split. From 1998-2001, they tried to get the DNA out of the dried Tribidrag but with no success. Ten years later, another group was able to get the DNA out of the dried leaves and prove the heritage of Zinfandel.

Tribidrag is the ancient name of Zinfandel. A historian traced the grape’s history back to the 1300s where he found that it was one of the most prominent grapes in the entire Adriatic. Tribidrag/Zinfandel is more than 800 years old and, according to Meredith, “it is a noble grape. We should treat it well.”

Today, Zinfandel is the third-leading wine grape variety in California, with more than 44,400 acres planted, according to The Wine Institute. It is grown in 45 of California’s 58 counties!

Check out these great Zinfandel suggestions:
BELLA 2015 ZINFANDEL “LILY HILL” DRY CREEK
CARLISLE 2016 2016 ZINFANDEL “DUPRATT VINEYARD” MENDOCINO RIDGE
CARLISLE 2016 ZINFANDEL “MONTAFI RANCH” RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY
MIKE & MOLLY 2015 “R.W. MOORE” ZINFANDEL, NAPA VALLEY
HENDRY 2015 ZINFANDEL “BLOCK 7 & 22” NAPA VALLEY
BACIGALUPI 2015 ZINFANDEL “ESTATE” RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY
BIALE 2016 ZINFANDEL “BLACK CHICKEN” NAPA VALLEY
GB CRANE 2016 DISCIPLES PROPRIETARY RED, NAPA VALLEY (94 POINTS)

LAST CALL for SUPERB 5 barrel Napa Cab Franc

 


Trespass is a small 5 acre all estate property in northwestern St. Helena at the base of Spring Mountain. The wines are hand-crafted by Kirk Venge who has been making wine since he was a little child under the tutelage of his dad Nils Venge (the first 100 point winemaker in the US with his 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet).  Kirk has wowed us with many great wines (Beau Vigne, Macauley, Honeycutt, Igneous, Venge, etc). Nils told me that at pre-school age Kirk knew he was going to be winemaker

Trespass 2015 Cabernet Franc “Estate” St. Helena, Napa Valley
GGWC 89.99
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Mix & match with other Trespass wines


Our friends at Trespass crafted yet another remarkable wine! Kirk Venge does not skip a beat with this latest release. It is beyond awesome. I would almost rate this is the best Cabernet Franc in the Napa Valley, but who am I to say. This wine has an amazing dense purple hue and a touch of anise and black currant on the nose. Extraction would make you think it is Syrah, yet this wine is amazingly elegant and offers up a storm of gorgeous, elegant black stone fruit alongside its full-bodied armor. Great balance, with the right amount of fruit and acid. The wine’s finishes with a long silkiness. 125 cases produced.

Click here or on the links above to order!

100 Point Napa Cabernet

 

After the success with her own label, Helen Keplinger is out of control (in a very good way)! The latest releases of Carte Blanche Cabernet and Proprietary Red showcase Helen’s amazing talents.  Only a few hundred cases of this mindboggling wine was produced from this “next” Haut Brion of the Napa Valley!  After many high 90s, the wines received a 100 Point rating this time!

This family has been in the wine business for nearly a century, since his great grandfather, Clarence Dillon, acquired Chateau Haut-Brion in 1935 and the family company, Domaine. Clarence Dillon, subsequently purchased Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion in 1983. This was the inspiration to produce his own boutique label in Napa Valley.

Carte Blanche 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
GGWC 154.99
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OK to mix & match with Carte Blanche Prop Red

Jeb Dunnuck 100 Points: “Lastly, and pure perfection in the glass, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% varietal from two great sites: Missouri Hopper in Oakville and Las Posadas in Howell Mountain. Aged in 100% new French oak, it offers an incredible bouquet of crème de cassis, liquid rock, graphite, lead pencil shavings, and unsmoked tobacco, with searing minerality in the aromatics as well as on the palate. Offering full-bodied richness, terrific concentration, and building tannin, this backward, dense, yet perfectly balanced 2015 needs 4-5 years of cellaring and will impress for 2-3 decades. Bravo!”

Robert Parker 97 Points: “The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is made predominately from Cabernet Sauvignon from Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper vineyard. It gives a very deep purple-black color and is redolent of crème de cassis, blueberry compote, Indian spices and crushed rocks with touches of black soil, cigar boxes and Provence herbs. The palate is built like a brick house with a solid frame of firm, fine-grained tannins and plenty of freshness supporting the generous black and blue fruits and beautiful spice layers, finishing on a lingering mineral note.”

Winemaker Helen Keplinger Notes: “The 2015 Carte Blanche Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% varietal makeup. Cabernet Sauvignon was farmed mainly at Oakville’s Missouri Hopper Vineyard owned by Andy Beckstoffer. A small amount of Cabernet from Las Posadas Vineyard on Howell Mountain was used in the final blend. A super complex nose leaps from the glass, showing dark and red fruits, cassis, graphite, and lead pencil. A broad palate opens to reveal black fruits, hint of red currant, and fresh tobacco leaf, all leading to a mile long silky finish. Enjoyable now with air and built for cellar aging.”

Carte Blanche 2015 Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
GGWC 149.99
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OK to mix & match with Carte Blanche Cabernet

Jeb Dunnuck 98 Points: “Leading off the 2015s from this estate, the 2015 Proprietary Red is a much more Cabernet-dominated blend than the 2014 and is 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and the rest Malbec. Brought up all in new French oak, this monster effort boasts a deep purple color as well as sensational notes of currants, blackberry liqueur, graphite, espresso roast and leafy herbs. Full-bodied, ripe, opulent and incredibly concentrated, this killer effort needs 2-3 years to shed some baby fat, but it’s going to keep for 2-3 decades.”

Winemaker Helen Keplinger Notes: “The 2015 Carte Blanche Proprietary Red Wine is a Right-Bank inspired blend of 59.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petite Verdot and .5% Malbec. Select vineyards and blocks were chosen and farmed specifically to attain a dense, rich wine framed by delicate fine-grained tannins. Beckstoffer’s Orchard Vineyard Merlot offers a plump & full mid-palate while providing ample nuance. Beckstoffer’s Missouri Hopper Cabernet Sauvignon in Oakville provides a full spectrum of rich and dark fruit, while the Sage Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Franc from Sage Ridge Canyon offers nuances of tobacco, plum, and roasted poblano. The 2015 Proprietary Red shows blackberry, black cherry and espresso on the nose. The palate entry is silky and focused, showcasing currant, crushed blackberries, graphite, and roasted poblano pepper through an enduring finish. 150 cases produced.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

The Wine “Catch” of the Day!

Winemaker Phil Titus (Chappellet etal) is the new winemaker at the helm, and it seems like Coho is getting an extra shot in the arm with this new addition. Coho will continue to source from the same vineyards, but with adding Phil Titus, they might have gone from Coach to First Class!

Coho 2015 Piont Noir Stanly Ranch Carneros Napa Valley
GGWC 44.99
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This 2015 Coho comes three distinct Dijon clones of Pinot Noir on Stanly Ranch in Los Carneros. Ripe aromas of black cherry, wild berry and enticing ripe plum aromas mingle with floral violet scents with a toasted almond and vanilla-infused bouquet. Rich and mouth-filling on entry, where the opulent texture reveals layered black cherry, plum and red currant flavors and fine-grained tannins which builds finesse on the elegant finish. Only 340 six-pack cases produced.

Also check out these other great Coho Wines:
COHO 2014 “OLD POODLE DOG” CABERNET, NAPA VALLEY
COHO 2013 MERLOT “MICHAEL BLACK”, NAPA VALLEY
COHO 2014 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY
COHO 2014 HEADWATER CABERNET BLEND, NAPA VALLEY

Heidi Barrett’s First Ever Chardonnay – STUNNING

Heidi Barrett, the original Screaming Eagle winemaker just announced a brand new wine from La Sirena! Although she made Chardonnay a number of times for her clients over the years, she was not compelled to make her own until a special vineyard site became available in 2016. Well-known vineyard manager Ulysses Valdez told her he had a few tons available from the Rued family original vineyard planted in 1969. She was enticed to have a look, and from there this beautiful Chardonnay was born. Only 173 cases were produced – so hurry!

La Sirena 2016 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
GGWC 69.99
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Heidi Barrett says: “The first release of a very special Chardonnay from the original planting of the Rued clone. These vines were planted in 1969 and are magnificent, with large gnarly trunks and arms. The wine they produce is quite refined, golden light straw in color with aromas of apples, pears, lemon, and floral honeysuckle notes. The clone is known for its somewhat tropical aromatics – some even refer to it as the Muscat clone of Chardonnay. This one just hints at pineapple with a kiss of delicate French oak. Flavors are bright and clean across the palate with green apple, lemon and pomelo-like fruit character. Lower alcohol (13.2) and crisp acidity make for a delightful fresh old-vine Chardonnay of pure character.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

HOT FROM THE PRESS: A WHITE WINE FOR RED WINE DRINKERS

Arbe Garbe (pron. Arbay Garbay), literally “bad weeds”, is what they call the cover crops on the Friulian Colli Orientali (“eastern hills”). It’s the mid-nineties, same scenery; two philosophy students are paying for tuition by picking grapes in the Jermann vineyards. Long hours of hard work and dream-sharing, they find one too many ideas in common. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Kerouac, whispering incessantly in the back of their minds, they lift their deep roots and go. He picks up his guitar and she takes nothing but a flower in her hair and love in her eyes, and they come to California.

Those days are long gone, but they still have deep roots and their dreams. Never ceasing to work hard and with passion, they have eventually reconnected to their native culture through the winemaking tradition. All that they have seen and felt and envisioned they expressed in every step of the process that brings this wine to life. They’ve always been enamored with the big Friulian white blends (55% Malvasia, 30% Ribolla, 15% Tocai, sourced from three first-rate vineyards – Catie’s Corner, Tanya’s Vineyard & Pagani Ranch) and wanted to pay homage to their heroes and their dreamy creations. With the same hedonistic approach, they have created an ever-changing blend that embraces the melting pot they’re in and love, California, and the one they’ve left behind.

Arbe Garbe 2017 Proprietary White Blend, Russian River Valley
GGWC $39.99
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The Arbe Garbe White Blend (55% Malvasia, 30% Ribolla, 15% Tocai) is absolutely gorgeous. The wine is medium to full in body, offering bright, floral aromatics lead to apricot, lemon confit, jasmine and mint. Beautifully perfumed throughout, the wine offers a compelling interplay of exotic fruit, lifted aromatics and pliant texture. Not surprisingly, it has much in common with the white blends of Friuli. The latest Arbe Garbe White is all class.

Click here or on the links above to order!

Paul Lato 2016 Rhone Releases!

Dear Friends,

Paul Lato hardly needs an introduction. His wines have raised the bar among many California wines for over 10 years now and each release continues to impress. We received 5 cases each of his 2016 “Rhone” releases, IL Padrino Syrah, Cinematique Syrah and Ora Labore Grenache.

For those who need to restock his Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs, I have some left (see the links below)

PAUL LATO 2016 SYRAH “IL PADRINO” BIEN NACIDO, SANTA BARBARA
99.99

This has been one of the best California Syrahs for years in a row.  If Paul Lato was located in the Rhone Valley, he would put many of the big names to shame!  In a recent tasting Paul’s Il Padrino bottling beat out 100 point wines like Alban’s Reva, and others!  I only get 5 cases of this gem, so jump on it NOW, as this might be the year of a 100 Point Syrah from Lato! This wine gets  an average 95-98 points every release!

Paul Lato says: “This wine is the James Bond of 2016. Refined yet powerful, it’s integrated aromatics of fresh white pepper, rose petals and church incense travel effortlessly through the glass. Like a fine Italian suit covering a chiseled physique, bold flavors of roasted coffee and blueberry make a show stopping appearance on the palate. This wine while youthful and exuberant, will continue to evolve into something even more stunning over the next decade. Cellar potential 10+ years”

Jeb Dunnuck 2015 – 100 Points: “The 15 Syrah Il Padrino is another killer wine from this estate that will flirt with (or achieve) perfection – 100% from the Bien Nacido vineyard, it was fermented in stainless steel and spent 20 months in 80% new French oak. Black fruits, bacon fat, tapenade and smoke all flow to a concentrated, incredibly seamless, silky Syrah that has no hard edges, fine, elegant tannin and a great, great finish. It’s up with the finest examples of this cuvée to date.”

PAUL LATO 2016 SYRAH “CINEMATIQUE” LARNER VINEYARD, SANTA YNEZ
94.99

This is in my book “THE” best Cinematique to-date bar-none! I believe strongly that is equal, to the great 2015, 2014, 2012, 2008 and 2007 vintages

Paul Lato says: “This passionately aromatic Syrah reminds me of love at first sight. The intensity of color is hypnotic while the aromas of vanilla and gardenia enchant me further. Dark cherry and spicy fruit flavors bring together this incredibly smooth wine. The silky mouthfeel will only get better with age, just like true love. Cellar potential 10+ years.”

Jed Dunnuck 2015 vintage – 100 Points: “From the sandy soils in Ballard Canyon and scheduled to be bottled in August, the 2015 Syrah Cinematique sports a similarly deep, inky color to go with a more fruit-driven style in its violets, black raspberry and game scented bouquet. Like the Bien Nacido, it’s incredible on the palate, with a sensational texture, ripe, polished tannin and a blockbuster finish. Which of these two Syrahs you prefer will be due more to personal preferences than any difference in quality. Both are utterly incredible reds I wish every reader could taste.”

PAUL LATO 2016 GRENACHE “ORA LABORE” BIEN NACIDO
79.99

Paul Lato says: “The rich dark colors of cherry only foreshadow what is to come in Ora et Labora. This fine wine shows powerful body with flavors of bramble, cola and ripe red fruits. However, these bold flavors are softened by elegant floral minerality and fresh cedar with a long zesty finish. This wine needs 2-5 years in bottle to truly shine. Cellar potential 7-10 years.”

Tasting Notes:  A big, bold greanache that offers lots of cassis and black raspberry fruit to go with underlying notes of wet gravel, peppery herbs, licorice and pepper. Full in body, seamless, elegant and multi-dimensional on the palate, with a weightless mouthfeel, it’s acidity is nicely integrated and it never puts a foot wrong. Given its balance and overall purity, it’s a killer drink today, but it will evolve beautifully.

 

We also small amounts remaining of Paul Lato’s Chardonnay & Pinot Noirs 
PAUL LATO 2016 CHARDONNAY “BELLE DE JOUR” DURAVITA VINEYARD – 94 POINTS
PAUL LATO 2016 CHARDONNAY “EAST OF EDEN” PISONI VINEYARD 94 POINTS
PAUL LATO 2016 CHARDONNAY “SOUVENIR” SIERRA MADRE VINEYARD (95 POINTS)
PAUL LATO 2016 PINOT NOIR “ATTICUS” JOHN SEBASTIANO VINEYARD, SANTA BARBARA – 95 POINTS
PAUL LATO 2016 PINOT NOIR “CONTENDER” DRUMM CANYON - 95 POINTS
PAUL LATO 2016 PINOT NOIR “DUENDE” GOLD COAST - 94 POINTS
PAUL LATO 2016 PINOT NOIR “PROSPECT” SIERRA MADRE – 94 POINTS
PAUL LATO 2016 PINOT NOIR “SUERTE” SOLOMON HILLS  - 95 POINTS
PAUL LATO 2016 PINOT NOIR “LANCELOT” PISONI VINEYARD
PAUL LATO 2016 PINOT NOIR “SEABISCUIT” ZOTOVICH VINEYARD – 94+ POINTS

Click here or on the links above to order!

Three closure tales

Three closure tales

BY Bob Campbell MW in Three of a Kind


An aspect of wine bottle closures that is seldom discussed is there ability to protect the wine in less than ideal storage conditions.

I had a chance to compare the effectiveness of three different wine closures after a container of German riesling was affected by heat in transit to New Zealand.

The importer air-freighted control samples for comparison with wines in the container which were sealed with cork, Vinolock and screwcap. To see how each closure performed, read on.
 

Corks have a remarkable ability to form a tight seal in bottlenecks with variable internal diameters. (Photo: First for women website)

Cork

Bottles are made by putting a blob of glass in a mould then blowing air into it so the molten glass splatters to the outside of the mould and forms a bottle which is perfect on the outside but can be misshapen on the inside. Corks have a remarkable ability to form a tight seal in bottlenecks with variable internal diameters. Squeeze a cork and it doesn’t ooze out the other way, it tries to spring back to its original shape.

On the downside, when wine heats up and expands it puts pressure on the cork and will eventually start to force its way out of the bottle. When the wine cools down it can draw air into the bottle. Too much air and the wine may become oxidised and unsaleable.

The German riesling under cork showed clear signs of leakage and oxidation. It was unsaleable.
 

Vinoloks are easy to remove and reseal with a satisfying click. (Photo: DuPont website)

Vinolok

Vinolok (also sold as Vino-Seal) is a sexy little glass stopper with an inert O-ring. It claims to create a hermetic seal that prevents oxidation. My experience with Vinolok has been very positive. They are easy to remove and reseal with a satisfying click. They are relatively expensive to buy and to package, although in my view they enhance the overall bottle presentation and look smarter than a screwcap.

When compared with control samples, the heat-affected Vinolok-sealed wines from the container did show some deterioration, although they were better than the wines under cork.
 

Screwcaps are the obvious choice if the wine is likely to be exposed to poor storage conditions. (Photo: Drinks Business Website)

Screwcap

We could find no difference between the heat-affected and control samples. It is possible that the heat-affected wines may not cellar as well as the control samples, but that is sheer speculation and there was no evidence of any deterioration.

If that experience is a reliable indicator of closure resistance to heat, then screwcaps are the obvious choice if the wine is likely to be exposed to poor storage conditions. It is ironic that Asian countries around the equator, where heat damage can be a real issue, tend to have a conservative attitude toward closures, with many wine retailers preferring corks.
 



To keep your wine safe in transit regardless of closure type, remember that Golden Gate Wine Cellars offers Temperature Controlled shipping to select destinations during the hot summer months. With winter fast approaching though, cold can be just as damaging. Hot or cold. we can store your wine for you free of charge and ship it out when conditions are safe. Call for details! 415-337-4083

Enticing Russian River “White Bordeaux”

“Les pierres qui décident”
~The rocks that decide~

Shared Notes is the winemaking joint-venture between wife and husband, Bibiana Gonzalez Rave (Pahlmeyer, Wayfarer winemaker) and Jeff Pisoni (Pisoni, Lucia winemaker). Both had early desires of making wine, and spent most of their lives doing so. The year 2012, however, marked the first vintage that they produced together. Previously, during the grape harvest, Bibiana and Jeff were like the proverbial ships passing in the night. Early grape picks and late nights at the winery left them rarely crossing paths. Now, Bibiana and Jeff do cross paths—to discuss ideas and taste samples. You can sometimes catch them in front of a grapevine, the press, a fermenting tank, or a barrel… most likely with a glass in hand.

Shared Notes 2017 Sauvignon Blanc “Les pierres qui décident” Russian River Valley
GGWC 67.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
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This wine is both beautifully delicate and intense at the same time. The 2017 “Les pierres qui décident” is a focused and pure Sauvignon Blanc from two vineyards located in the heart of Sonoma County.  Aging was carried out in oak barrels and on the lees with minimal stirring.  The nose is extremely fragrant with notes of floral perfume, green apple, citrus oil and the classic bud of the cassis plant.  The palate is energetic and powerful, with lots of minerality, salinity, and a core for refreshing acidity.  This wine drinks great now, but can also cellar for at least a decade. Only 4 barrels of this wine were produced.

Winemaker Notes: “Enticing complexity meets dazzling linear acidity in the 2017 Les pierres qui décident.  Crisp granny smith apple, zesty lemon, and mouthwatering lemon meringue pie give way to a hint of lightly toasted French oak to tease your palate.  The long, persistent finish leaves you with the perfumed taste of bourgeon de cassis characteristic to this style of Sauvignon Blanc”

Click here or on the links above to order!

100 Pointer by Screaming Eagle owned next Cult Winery!

Stan Kroenke owner of Screaming Eagle is putting the next CULT winery on the map just a few hours south of the bay area! Stan is the mastermind behind many other great ventures.

Stan Kroenke is the owner of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which is the largest shareholder of English Premier League football club Arsenal and is also the holding company of the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League and the newly formed Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League, just to name a few.

FYI The Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche franchises are currently owned by his wife, Ann Walton Kroenke, to satisfy NFL ownership restrictions that forbid a team owner from owning teams in other markets… Ann is the daughter of Walmart co-founder James Walton.
So purchasing the land that is now Jonata winery is just peanuts…

All joking aside it still takes a good mind, lots of money and a great team to make great wine and I believe they have achieved this at Jonata!

JONATA 2015 EL ALMA PROPRIETARY RED, BALLARD CANYON SANTA YNEZ – 98+ POINTS
154.99

Jeb Dunnuck 98+ Points: “Showing awesome aromatics, as well as an incredible depth on the palate, the 2015 El Alma de Jonata (74% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Petit Verdot and Merlot) reveals an inky purple color as well as killer notes of blackcurrant, spring flowers, dark chocolate, bay leaf and licorice. Possessing full-bodied richness, gorgeous purity of fruit, lots of chalky tannin, and a great finish, this is easily a candidate for the finest Cabernet Franc made in America. It needs 4-5 years of cellaring and will keep for two decades.”

Winemaker Notes: “Impenetrable black color. Swirls out of the glass with deep, dark fruit and green cooling herbs. Classic cassis and black olive. Fleeting notes of lavender. Remains tight today, but can be coaxed out of its shell with air. Sweet bramble and ripe black plum. Opens to a monstrous and mouthwatering texture with tremendous concentration and freshness. Firm high quality tannins frame the fruit. A texturally thrilling and structurally intimidating Alma. One to lay down for a few years as it evolves into a classic”

JONATA 2015 EL DESAFIO PROPRIETARY RED, BALLARD CANYON SANTA YNEZ – 98 POINTS
154.99

Jeb Dunnuck 98 Points: “Another killer wine, the 2015 El Desafio de Jonata checks in as 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance equal parts Merlot and Petit Verdot. It offers sensational density and depth, as well as terrific purity and elegance. Black fruits, tar, smoked earth, violets and graphite notes all emerge from this full-bodied, concentrated, tannin beauty. Forget bottles for a decade.”

Winemaker Notes: “An unforgettable wine from two fermentation lots consisting of minuscule berries. Long and slow fermentations that allowed for maximum extraction under ideal conditions. Green mint, black cassis, pencil shavings. Black and red fruit with a creamy, expansive and sweet texture. Cedar and cigar notes. Voluptuous and packed with power. Tannins start early and build to an impressive intensity.”

JONATA 2015 LE SANGRE SYRAH, BALLARD CANYON SANTA YNEZ – 100 POINTS
154.99

Jeb Dunnuck 100 Points: “Even better than the crazy-good 2007, the 2015 La Sangre de Jonata is sheer perfection in a glass and up with the finest Syrahs ever made in California! Checking in as a blend of 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier, aged in barrel, its saturated purple color is followed by out of this world aromatics black raspberries, smoked earth, graphite, game, violets and freshly crushed rock-like minerality. Possessing huge concentration, building tannin, and yet a seamless, ethereally pure texture, it needs 2-4 years of bottle age to become approachable. It is unquestionably the finest vintage for this cuvée today and hats off to the team at Jonata for this beauty!”

Winemaker Notes: “We’ve never seen a Sangre like the ’15. Tough to put in to words. Unmatched complexity with ripe blackberry, charred tri-tip and green peppercorn. Luxurious texture. Perfumed, exotic and supple. Creosote, tar, violets and truffle. Such is the power and density of this wine that the formidable tannins on the finish appear merely as soft, dusty and balanced. Everything on a higher level and nothing out of place. Similar only to the 2007 Sangre in which both wines were seamless and gorgeous from the moment the grapes were harvested to the moment we put them in bottle. Very special and rarified air.”

FYI: Jeb was a long time Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate reviewer!

Click here or on the links above to order!