2018 Zialena, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2018 Zialena, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2018 Zialena, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

California, United States 2018 (750mL)
Regular price$49.00

2018 Zialena, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Sonoma’s Alexander Valley AVA is like the Rodney Dangerfield of Northern California Cabernet . . . “I get no respect!” The grape growing and winemaking history is just as old as Napa, and the geology, climate, and exposition are extremely similar. Indeed they’ve been producing award winning Zinfandel for decades, but the insider also knows that A.V. Cabernet goes toe to toe with Napa’s best, and it costs three to four times less! Case in point: Zialena’s 2018 powerhouse of richness, structure, and elegance. From a winemaking family that has been growing grapes in Sonoma for over 125 years, this bottle has just the right amount of age to really strut its stuff–opulent red and black fruit, heady spice, cedar, and savory herbs are in perfect harmony. It’s time to show Alexander Valley the respect it deserves!

When brother and sister team Mark and Lisa Mazzoni founded Zialena winery in 2012 they were not jet-setters, who occasionally visit Sonoma, embarking on a vanity project. Quite the opposite. The Mazzoni family has been growing grapes here since their great-grandfather Guiseppe Mazzoni arrived from Tuscany in 1898. At first Giuseppe worked for the wine co-op Asti, a part of the Swiss-Italian Colony, that is just a bit north of Geyserville. Within a year he was able to purchase some hillside land overlooking the Alexander Valley, and he and his brother-in-law planted vineyards shortly after. By 1910 they had built a winery and cellar and were producing wines for the market, and they continued to do so (with a Prohibition pause) until the winery sold in 1978. 

That is by no means the end of the Mazzoni story though. Jim Mazzoni and his son Mike continued to own and farm vines throughout Northern Sonoma, and this is how Mike’s children, Mark and Lisa, grew up walking through vineyards. The original Mazzoni Home Ranch was sold in 1988, and it is now a part of the single vineyard Zinfandel line from iconic estate Ridge Vineyards, but today the Mazzoni estate manages over 100 acres of vineyards and sells fruit to some of the most prestigious wineries in Sonoma.

Small wonder then that Mark Mazzoni embarked on a career in farming and winemaking from a very young age. He started at Kenwood in 2002, and spent the next decade working and learning at wineries such as St. Francis and Flanagan, while also managing vineyards for Bacchus and now, unsurprisingly, Mazzoni Estate Vineyards. His sister, Lisa, was busy pursuing a high-powered career in finance and consulting, but in 2012 she returned home and together they founded Zialena, named for their great aunt (zia) Lena. This exquisite new winery allows them to use some of the best fruit from the family’s vineyards to produce wine that is steeped in the traditions of the Mazzoni name and its place in Alexander Valley history.

Mark is a decidedly old world influenced winemaker, and from the very beginning he insisted on using large cement tanks, instead of stainless steel, for all his fermentations. His low-intervention, traditionalist style is manifest in the rigorous hand-sorting of berries, native yeast fermentations, and aging in oak barrels of various ages. The result is a wine that is as true to the terroir of Alexander Valley as it is to the traditions of Mark’s ancestors. 

The 2018 Cabernet is just entering its peak drinking window at six years of age, but it easily has another decade plus of improvement potential. Serve at cellar temperature–after a vigorous decant–in large Bordeaux stems. Aromas of Morello cherries, cassis, black plum, pine, cedar, spice box, dark chocolate, and a touch of mint lead to a richly textured, full-bodied wine that is wonderfully balanced by dusty tannin and old-world inspired acidity. A long finish of meaty, saline minerals plays off the hedonistic fruit perfectly. Given the Mazzoni history, I’d say a nice Tuscan style grilled steak would be a perfect pairing. It’s time to taste how delicious the combination of tradition and modernity can be!

2018 Zialena, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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