There are a handful of regions in California that are particularly well suited for Zinfandel. Each of them stands apart by imparting unique character in the wines grown there. Sonoma County is particularly lucky because it has two areas that can grow exceptional Zin. Dry Creek Valley is one and the other is Russian River Valley. Pinot Noir comes to mind first for most people when it comes to Russian River Valley, but the Zinfandel is often equally compelling. Today I’ll look at one from Napa Valley’s V. Sattui that they sourced in the Russian River Valley. The V. Sattui 2008 Gilsson Vineyard Zinfandel was produced using Russian River Valley Fruit. This is a single vineyard effort with all of the fruit coming from the namesake Gilsson vineyard. These vines were planted in the 60’s. This particular piece of property sits on the edge of Russian River Valley, right near where the Chalk Hill appellation starts. That gives it some influence from both areas. This limited production wine sells for $36.
An absolutely intoxicating nose is led by strong cherry aromas that have a hint of liqueur to them. Raspberry and cherry flavors, both red and black, are prominent throughout the palate. Sweet dark chocolate, black pepper, chicory and earth elements are all part of a long, lusty, lingering finish. The chocolate notes in particular echo on and on memorably. Well integrated tannins show necessary firmness along with terrific acidity for good overall structure.
This wine has the balance, restraint and complexity to age for a decade or more. At its core this wine is an absolutely textbook example of top notch Russian River Valley Zinfandel. The bottom line is that this Gilsson Vineyard Zinfandel from V. Sattui is a lovely wine. If you’re a Zinfandel fan, this is a fine offering, well worth your time and money.