Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sapphire Hill 2011 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

Sapphire Hill

This wine from Sapphire Hill is truly a gem. I purchased this from Underground Cellar, which is a new online wine site. Unlike “flash” sites that sell odd lot and closeout wines at steep discounts, Underground Cellar has offers that allow you to purchase from a selection of unique wines and get a free upgrade to high-priced wines.

I ordered three bottles at $20, which was the cost for Sapphire Hill’s Merleaux, a Merlot blend. I got one Merleaux and two free upgrades, including this very satisfying bottle, which retails for $28.

Sapphire Hill has a focus on small lot wines from premium vineyards in the top Sonoma AVAs of Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley. Dry Creek Valley is known for their knock-out Zinfandel. Only 240 cases were made of this vintage.

Produced with grapes from 70-year-old vines, this wine includes a touch of Petit Syrah in the blend. Many wines require time to open up. I also find I need time for my own palate to get oriented to the wine. Not so with the Sapphire Zin – it was simply wonderful from the word “go.”

It has a smooth texture and great lushness, without shifting from the “dry” end of the sweetness spectrum. Full and rich with blackberries it also has a sprinkle of pepper and briary flavors.

Some Zinfandels can be easy, jammy affairs, but this is a complex wine. It also avoids the pitfalls of being too “hot” with alcohol or overly earthy.

In the battle for Zinfandel supremacy, Dry Creek Valley is certainly among the best regions and this bottle is an example of the superlative wine originating there. Today I found my thrill on Sapphire Hill.

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