Sky Vineyards, Mount Veeder Zinfandel
Sky Vineyards, Mount Veeder Zinfandel

Sky Vineyards, Mount Veeder Zinfandel

California, United States 2015 (750mL)
Regular price$46.00

Sky Vineyards, Mount Veeder Zinfandel

Let’s hear it for Zinfandel! California’s unofficial local grape has been a darling of the U.S. wine industry for decades, and allows us to produce wines that have no obvious comparison on the global market. Of course Zinfandel isn’t actually a native variety (more on that later), but when you encounter a wine like Sky Vineyard’s Mt. Veeder, you get such a rush of rich, sappy fruit, spices, and wild herbs that it feels like you’ve captured the essence of coastal California in a bottle. Oh, and it happens to be a tried and true companion to the traditional holiday meal. But please, we implore you, don’t grab whatever hot, jammy mess of a Zin is at the grocery store! Plan ahead and you’ll have a good supply of organic, dry-farmed, high-elevation, old vines Zinfandel from a small, family owned estate that makes wines just as the pioneers of Napa did back in the 1950s and ‘60s. It’s already got eight years of age on it, and it is only getting better and better. Check this homegrown masterpiece out!

When Lore Olds first purchased and planted his small estate high on Mount Veeder back in 1973, there was no path to glory and riches through farming Mountain Zinfandel. Indeed, there was no clear path to even modest success making fine wine in the Napa Valley. Sure, the Gallo brothers and others were doing very well producing bulk plonk, jug wines, and manufactured concoctions like “White Zinfandel,” but the several dozen quality-minded producers in the area were mostly making wine for a few restaurants and for each other. Lore was in the thick of this small cadre, having worked at icons Beaulieu Vineyards and Mayacamas Vineyards, and was excited to have his own small slice of pristine land to farm. Of course, the famous “Judgement of Paris” came shortly after, and the Napa wine scene changed rapidly over the following years. But Lore? Not so much. Fifty years later, this doggedly old-school estate continues producing small amounts of Zinfandel and Syrah, just as it always has.

If Lore had wanted to make a quick buck, he would never have chosen Mt. Veeder as his landing spot. Yes, the raw, wild beauty of this area is breathtaking, but the steep, craggy slopes and canyons mean that vineyards are small, and must be worked mostly or entirely by hand. Combine that with the cool mountain nights, made even chillier by fog and breezes off the San Pablo Bay, and you have among the lowest average yields in all of Napa. But what you lose in quantity, you make up for in quality and complexity. Lore knew this instinctively, and his original 14 hectares of Zinfandel produce a regal, yet rugged wine that possesses a wild beauty, much like Mt. Veeder itself. If you want to find comparisons, you have to look at the Zins from Heitz, Mayacamas, and Ridge that were made in the 1970s. There is really nothing else quite like it today.

As if farming on Mt. Veeder isn’t hard enough, Lore and his team have always used only organic farming practices, including cover crops and eco-grazing, and his vines are entirely dry-farmed (no irrigation). And there’s more: Sky Vineyards is completely off the grid, relying on solar panels and occasional generator use for all of their power. Given the rugged, nature forward approach it should be no surprise that the cellar work is hands off and minimalist by design. The fruit goes into an old wooden press before fermentation with native yeasts, punch downs are all by hand, and aging is old, French oak barrels. The wines are bottled by hand, and to finish they receive a label of an original Lore painting for each release. 

Serve Sky Vineyards’ iconic Zinfandel in a Bordeaux stem at a cool 60 degrees after a short decant, and the distinct array of aromatics will emerge: Wild blackberries, spiced cherries, lavender, rosemary, bay laurel, cocoa powder, cayenne, espresso bean, cinnamon, and orange zest all overlay a palette of rich, sappy red and black fruits, with silky textures, and a finish of earthy, savory minerals. Though the eight years of bottle age has softened this wine a bit, it is still plenty vibrant, with a healthy dose of mountain acidity that makes it a perfect accompaniment to any rich meal. Thanksgiving? Yup, we hear you calling. I can’t think of a better bottle to bridge the cranberry sauce and the sweet potatoes. Stock up today, your friends and family will be forever grateful!

Sky Vineyards, Mount Veeder Zinfandel

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