MV Lone Madrone, Paso Robles Zinfandel
MV Lone Madrone, Paso Robles Zinfandel

MV Lone Madrone, Paso Robles Zinfandel

California, United States MV (750mL)
Regular price$39.00

MV Lone Madrone, Paso Robles Zinfandel

The old adage of “don’t assume” was fresh in mind when the SommSelect wine team sat down to taste with Lucas Meisinger as he presented his family’s wines from Lone Madrone. These were all grown and made in Paso Robles, so they must be overripe, jammy fruit bombs right? Wrong! The whole line up blew us away with an abundance of freshness, balance, and lively energy, and the most surprising was their multi-vintage Zinfandel. Sourced from two excellent vineyards on Paso’s “westside” where the nights are cooler and the soil is full of calcareous rocks, this bottle was a revelation of what California Zin has been, can be, and if we had our druthers always would be. Spicy, savory notes walk a taught tightrope with juicy red and black fruit, and the finish is loaded with minerality and lift. There’s a true method behind the magic at Lone Madrone, and we’ll discuss it all below, but the takeaway is that this estate is clearly at the vanguard of new wave Paso Robles, and we couldn’t be more excited to share the wine with you today. Check it out!

While Lone Madrone seems like a breath of fresh air for Paso Robles, it is in fact rooted in the history of this relatively new wine region that sits smack dab in the middle of California’s Central Coast. Geographically it is the true “center” of the “Central Coast.” The project started back in 1996, at a time when Paso Robles was just entering its first wave of wine tourism, and plantings, varieties, farming, and winemaking were all very much in flux and there were many disparate ideas on what identity the region would have. It was very much a “Wild West of Wine,” and as such you could stretch your winemaking legs a bit easier, which is exactly what Neil Collins did when he released his first wine under the Lone Madrone label.

As Paso Robles began to find its footing the focus shifted first to Zinfandel, of the type that was popular all over the U.S. and beyond in the late 1990’s: Big, powerfully ripe, richly textured and generally “high octane.” But blends of Rhône varieties were always in the mix, and the “Rhône Rangers” movement soon took the mantle from Zinfandel. Neil’s day job was making wine at the iconic Tablas Creek–squarely in the Rhône camp–but he felt no pressure to pick a side, and instead he chose to focus on the land, the vineyards themselves, the “terroir” of Paso. And he knew from the get go that he would narrow that focus to the Adelaida district on the western side of the town. Here the elevation is a bit higher, the hills a bit steeper, and thanks to all that plus a closer proximity to the Pacific the temps are a bit cooler, especially at night. Added to all of that was a geology of clay and calcareous shale rock, which makes it easier to farm without irrigation, which Neil has come to believe is crucial to showcasing his unique terroir. Today the vast majority of Lone Madrone wines come from dry-farmed, organically grown vines.

Neil has been joined by his wife Marci and his sister Jackie from the very beginning, and today some of their children, who grew up in the vineyards, have also joined the team. Their winery in the Adelaida hills has been a smash hit since it opened in 2012, and in 2022 they were able to purchase a small property with vineyards of its own, becoming a true “estate” operation. They offer a full range of wines (and you should visit them to taste the range!) but one of our favorites right now is a somewhat esoteric, multi-vintage bottling of Zinfandel from two of Lone Madrone’s most important vineyards.

The MV Zinfandel is a blend of 50% Bailey Ranch vineyard from 2019, and 50% Klau Mine vineyard from 2020. Raised in mostly neutral barrels, with just a kiss of new American oak, this bottle is simultaneously a perfect throwback to the brilliant Zinfandels of Napa and Sonoma in the 1960s and ‘70s, and very much a testament to the unique Paso terroir and gentle winemaking that are Lone Madrone’s calling cards. Serve it a touch cool, at around 60 degrees, in a large Bordeaux stem, and the deep garnet hue will serve up a lovely bouquet of wild blackberries, red currants, rhubarb, raspberry compote, fennel, dill, white pepper, cocoa powder, and hints of baking spice. The rich, silky texture is supported by a nice little kick of tannin and surprisingly fresh acidity, and finishes with a kiss of sea salt that plays perfectly against the sumptuous fruit. It’s perfect with anything you want to smoke or throw on the grill, but you can’t get more classic Central Coast food fun than a feast of Santa Maria BBQ.  If you haven’t given Paso a try in a bit, this is the perfect wine to show you the future of this exciting region!

MV Lone Madrone, Paso Robles Zinfandel

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