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Sonoma Valley is the top terroir for California's most-revered Zinfandel producers. The volcanic hills and valley around the town of Sonoma possess Zinfandel with a depth and complexity that's not always found in the Dry Creek Valley - or the ancient vines of Lodi and Amador. Ravenswood turned the spotlight onto Sonoma Valley Zin in the 1970's, but the seminal Zin vineyards first appeared in the 1860's. Beltane Ranch represents a piece of that heritage, and their modern day 2013 Estate Zinfandel hits all the right spots for those who crave the boldest of Zins.
About the wine
With a nod to the past, Beltane Ranch blends Alicante Bouschet with Zinfandel to enhance color and structure of the wine. And it works - this stuff is black, a real tooth-stainer! It's absolutely jammed packed with ripe blackberry, warm rock dust, white pepper, and dark chocolate. It's less floral and fruity than a typical Zin, exhibiting a Rhone-like character that gives it a more robust impression. It's obvious that the winery "drops" a lot of fruit in the vineyard to maximize the concentration of the harvested grapes. Only top growers who sell fruit to top wineries can employ this rigor in the vineyard. Only 400cs were produced available only at the winery in Sonoma.
Winemaker: Kevin Holt
Appellation: Sonoma Valley
- 95 pts: Walter Moore, WSET Diploma, CSW
- 98 pts: Vintage Rating (Wine Advocate)
- 4.4/5.0: Vivino Users (12 ratings)
Grapes: 95% Zinfandel, 5% Alicante Bouschet
Vineyards: 100% Estate Grown
About the winery
Beltane Ranch is a pristine 25-acre vineyard in the heart of Sonoma Valley that was first planted to grapevine cuttings from Bordeaux in 1870's. The Valley's unique volcanic soil has been ground zero for some of the finest Zinfandel ever made by Ravenswood, Ridge, and Bedrock. Beltane Ranch primarily grows grapes for others, with notable wineries such as Duckhorn and Copper Cane Provisions (Joe Wagner) using Beltane Ranch grapes for their highly regarded blends. The vineyard is 100% sustainably-farmed with rigorous attention to keeping yields low to enhance concentration of color, structure, and complexity. Under the Estate label, they bottle a few wines only available at the winery.
"The outstanding success of the significant crop thinning we did with the brand-new vines in 2012 showed us that we were on a winner as far as the potential of our estate vineyard to make great zinfandel, so we eased up a bit and allowed the vines to ripen significantly more grapes in 2013. Even so, the crew still thought we were crazy with how much we put on the ground. Young vines need help getting their balance, though, and almost always want to over-produce, which can lead to under-ripe grapes and thin, flavorless wines. Our goal is quite the opposite. The wine is softer in structure than its predecessor, which gives it more immediate appeal, but still has all the rich texture and ripe fruit that identifies it as a classic Sonoma Valley Zinfandel. Spicy cocoa, like Mexican chocolate, combines with brambly fruit on the nose, and the palate delivers a one-two punch of sweet blackberry jam and soft vanilla oak. An iron fist in a velvet glove, or perhaps just the opposite; in any case, the wine is deftly balanced, and the flavor goes on and on. No need to age this one, but it will develop greater complexity as months go by." - Kevin Holt, Winemaker
95 pts - WSET Diploma, CSW
"Although initially a little shy and mysterious, in quick time, this wine opens beautifully into an expressive, powerful and very delicious Zinfandel. Aromas of brown butter and warm berry bramble pie mingle on the nose with hints of campfire and tobacco. And on the palate, the mouthfeel is full and silky with abundant fruit that runs the gamut from dried blueberries to black cherries which is tempered nicely by lightly toasted coffee bean, cinnamon and vanilla components. What I like most is this is not your typical over-the-top juice bomb Zins but rather has a more serious nature, strength of character and an impeccably balanced finish that is both fruity yet dry and earthy but bright. This gem from Sonoma would pair perfectly with glazed duck, barbecued brisket or with a spicy curry dish like coconut curried cauliflower with spicy beef."