Sunday, January 8, 2012

Brian Arden Zinfandel 2009

This is a name you all need to remember as it is a relatively new winemaker from Calistoga that you will be hearing rave reviews about in the near future.  The Brian Arden wines are produced by a father (Arden "Burt") and son (Brian) team.  Brian previously worked for the world famous Brix Restaurant where he was introduced to many industry icons.  In 2006 he moved to Calistoga starting in the cellar at Terra Valentine where he worked along side some of the most respected names in Napa winemaking including Kirk Venge, Michael Hirby, Sam Baxter, Bob Engelhoff and Jack Stuart.  Brian also had the privilege of sharing winery space with such luminaries as David Phinney of Orin Swift (WS #7 Best Wine in the world - Prisoner 2005), Steven Hall (Biale), Ray Coursen (Elyse & Falcor), Mark Jessup (Jessup Cellar) and Mike Farmer (Opus One).  The 2008 harvest was their first for Brian Arden wines. Burt also grew up in the farming business where his father (Burton of Burton Ranch) ran a commercial farming operation in the Central Valley including vineyards, prunes, pears and walnuts.

Last night we had our good friends Louise and Jonas, along with their children, over for dinner.  My wife made a braised chicken which was braised in a tomato sauce with pancetta and mushrooms.  The first thought was an Italian red because of the braise.  However, a nice zinfandel with some spice was the perfect pairing.  Burt suggested opening for 15-20 minutes before serving but after popping the cork, I had a hard time letting it sit.  The nose was incredible with dark fruits (black cherry and blackberry) along with some chocolate and cedar. There was also a hint of clove.  After these aromas, it had to be a great wine.  And it was!!!!  The black jammy fruits were followed by some licorice and chocolate and then some spicy pepper on the back end.  This zinfandel was not the typical dark, bold, in-your-face zin that many CA wines are, which was what I really liked about the Brian Arden.  It was structured so well with minimal to medium acidity, some soft  tannins and flavors that never ended.  Although it has a 14.7% alcohol content, it was well disguised. This wine wine made from 100% zinfandel grapes that had been harvested at the Burton Ranch Pump Block from ancient vines, with some dating back to 1886 which produce only 1-2 bunches per vine.  The grapes are smaller than those from the newer vines.

The wine received rave reviews at dinner.  I personally have not tasted a better zinfandel than this one.  If this had been a blind tasting, I would have expected a top name winemaker as opposed to the new kids on the block.  Presently, the Brian Arden wines are only being sold to restaurants, but this will likely change in the near future.  The next time you are in a restaurant in Napa, be sure to order a glass.  I can't wait to try the other Brian Arden wines including the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Cabernet Franc, the Syrah and the Sauvignon Blanc.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good--14.7% that is a whopper! I'll have to keep my eye open for it. Just had a good zin from Hartwood the other night, so your zin review caught my eye.