The Prohibition Story about Black Chicken: Going back to the early 1900’s … Hey Aldo, when you come by on Friday, bring me a couple pounds of walnuts, some fruit and vegetables, two dozen eggs and a “Black Chicken”. And thus went one of the hundreds of inquiries during prohibition when selling wine was not legal. Aldo Biale called his jugs of Zin a “Black Chicken” to avoid any unwanted attention from regulators. Today Black Chicken is 100% Legal, so you can get a sample of this legendary creation by name. Aldo died in 2009, but in his memory the Black Chicken lives on! If you visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History you can even see an image of Aldo with his old punch down stick and a picker’s box!
FYI: May 13th is the actual 23rd ‘legal’ birthday of the Black Chicken Zinfandel. The first official release was the 1999 vintage, although Bob Biale’s father Aldo began bottling it originally in 1943! The punch-down stick and picker’s box that he used in those early decades of production are currently on display at the Food and Wine exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C
Biale 2021 Zinfandel “Black Chicken” Napa Valley
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Sourced primarily from Biale’s Estate vineyards in the Oak Knoll district, this wine is round and plush with a gentle grip of perfectly ripe tannins. A spectrum of red and dark fruits– raspberries, cherries, blackberries, bright vivid aromas, fine-grained texture, star anise, black and white pepper, cocoa, subtle nuanced oak. Age worthy, compelling, decadent: a beautifully proportioned Napa Valley Zinfandel.
Winemaker Notes: “Showing the influence of the breezy and fog-laced Oak Knoll District, the 2021 vintage offers rich, plush fruit, delicate acidity and a structure defined by well-ripened tannins. Layered notes of black cherry, raspberry, sandalwood, bergamot, cloves, blueberry, and balsam on the nose. Delicate, yet rich with plum compote, violets, and baking spice on the palate. An ideal vintage of the Black Chicken that, with proper cellaring, will continue to improve for the next 5-7 years.”
Vintage Notes: The growing season saw rain in January and February then almost no notable precipitation for the rest of the season. This provided an ideal environment for grapes to flower, bloom, and set in early spring. Budbreak was early in April followed by flowering and blooming in May. The summer saw early and even ripening with no concerning heat spikes. Everything tended early thanks to the calm spring with veraison appearing in early July. Due in part to the drought, yields were naturally lower, resulting in less dropping of fruit in the vineyards. It was one of the earliest starts to harvest on record. Harvest kicked off with clear skies and almost no weather events to worry winemakers. This allowed the grapes to hang as long as winemakers wanted to achieve optimal ripening and taste.
94 Points Wine Enthusiast "Editor's Choice": "The producer’s marquee wine and a nod to its long-standing ties to farming, this is fresh and earthy in notes of crushed rock, slate, dried herb and black pepper. The fruit is layered and sumptuous in flavors of raspberry and black cherry, while supple tannins and a hint of toasted oak provide framing."
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