The 12 Days of Zin continues with what will be the first of several stops in the Dry Creek Valley. Quite a few varietals thrive in this area of Sonoma, but I find Zinfandels from this area seem to be particularly impressive in general. Today's selections are from Fritz Winery. They produce approximately 12,000 cases annually of wine from grapes they grow in Dry Creek and Estate Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. I'm looking at both their Estate Zinfandel and an Estate Reserve Zinfandel today. The 2005 Estate Zinfandel is 100% varietal and all Estate fruit. The wine spent 6 months in a combination of French and American oak, 40% of it was new. Just under 2,800 cases of this selection were released and the suggested retail price is $25.
The first thing that's apparent is this wine has a beautiful cherry apple red hue. Bright cherry, vanilla and underlying wild strawberry fruit are featured in the nose of the 2005 Estate Zinfandel from Fritz. 45 minutes or so in the decanter or glass serves this wine well and allows it open nicely. Once it does it shows itself to be medium bodied (within the world of Zins) and choc full of cherry and spice flavors. This wine is smooth and easy drinking while filling the plate with nutmeg spice and earth on a gentle, lingering finish. The spice notes are the most prominent and persistent throughout this wines palate. While this wine will stand up to some ribs, it's balanced enough to be a welcome match for a dish of pasta as well.
Compared to the Estate Zinfandel, only a tiny amount of the Fritz Winery 2005 Estate Reserve was produced. In fact, only 278 cases in total. The reserve has a suggested retail price of $40.
What's immediately obvious about the reserve is how much darker it is in color than the estate. That deeper hue comes through immediately. The nose is filled with blackberry, vanilla, cedar and an underlying touch of eucalyptus. Taking the first sip of this wine I found it, not surprisingly, to be a little tight straight out of the bottle. Once it opened up sour cherry and black pepper notes came out prominently on the entry point. From the mid-palate through the finish more deep, dark fruit notes are buttressed by terrific white pepper, nutmeg and cherry pie spice notes. This wine has excellent acidity and is impeccably balanced. It's a bigger, bolder wine than the Estate and should be paired with heartier foods that will best complement it.
I tasted the reserve again after it had been open for a full 24 hours. In that time period it had blossomed further and was even more expressive than the day before. I'd expect it to age effortlessly for at least a decade.
What I liked best about these wines is that they're each fine values in their respective price categories. They're both made in a more classic style of Zinfandel. Both have some jam fruit elements but tend towards restraint balance and the ability to age.
Up Next: The 12 Days of Zin Continues
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