Today’s stop for the 12 Days of Zin takes me back to a Sonoma County Winery. Carol Shelton the winemaker and co-owner of Carol Shelton Wines spent 20 years at Windsor Vineyards making well regarded, award wining wines. In 2000 she decided to focus on her own wines. Not surprisingly she decided to focus on her long time passion for Zinfandel. Today I’ll look at three of her Zin releases. While she is a Sonoma based vintner, she sources fruit from numerous regions in California to produce a broad range of wine.
The 2005 Carol Shelton Wild Thing Zinfandel is 90% varietal and 10% Carignane. The fruit for this selection was sourced from the Cox Vineyard in Mendocino County. Cox Vineyard is an organically grown, Old Vines vineyard planted in 1956. 1935 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $28.
Red and black raspberry, along with vanilla and cedar fill the nose of this wine. Cherry notes along with continued raspberry fill the palate of this wine which is rich and round but also well proportioned and never over the top. This is a smooth, lush Zinfandel that drinks easily. The finish has black pepper, a touch of bramble and goes on for awhile. The hallmarks of Mendocino fruit show up in this well made Zinfandel. I paired it with a dish of Pasta in Bolognese sauce and found it to match that perfectly.
The 2005 Carol Shelton Monga Zin is 100% varietal. The fruit was sourced from the Lopez Vineyard in Cucamonga Valley. This is an old vine vineyard planted in 1918. The wine was aged in a combination of new and older French and American oak barrels for 13 months. 1,230 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $21.
An avalanche of red raspberry fruit emerges from the nose once this Zin has had a chance to breathe. It’s a bit tight at first and a solid hour in the decanter is highly recommended. Raspberry notes, accompanied by cherry and nutmeg spice emerge through the palate of this wine which is big, rich, mouth-filling and opulent. There’s nothing small or mellow about this selection. The immense fruit continues through the finish which also features emerging mocha notes. Despite its size the wine features fine structure and acidity. It’ll be an excellent match for braised short ribs, osso bucco or other similarly hearty cuisine.
The 2005 Carol Shelton Rocky Reserve Zinfandel is 100% varietal. The fruit was sourced at the Florence Vineyard in Rockpile, Dry Creek Valley. The wine was aged for 13 months in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels of varying ages. 698 cases of this Zin were produced and the suggested retail price is $33.
As with the Monga Zin, the Rocky Reserve needs some time in the decanter to really shine. Once it opens up, blueberry, blackberry and subtle strawberry notes emerge in the nose underscored by vanilla. The palate is filled with dark fruit flavors accompanied by black pepper and pie crust spices. The finish has emerging bakers chocolate notes interspersed with white pepper and hints of dusty earth. Solid structure and good acidity are even more pronounced in the Rocky Reserve Zin than the others. An excellent match for a double cut pork chop or other grilled meats.
The hallmark of the Carol Shelton Zinfandels is quality and distinction. Each of these wines is well made and indicative of where its fruit was sourced. All three are enjoyable to drink now, but each will improve for a couple of years and drink well for several more after that. Without question, these are Zins to seek out.
Up Next: The 12 Days of Zin Continues!
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