Red Wine for Thanksgiving: Go Bold and Balanced – Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2013

A French Beaujolais Village or California or Oregon Pinot Noir are the go t0 red wines for Thanksgiving. My family will enjoy Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2013 at our house this year along with whites here, here, and here. The truth is, Bogle Old Vine Zin and Bogle’s Cabernet Sauvignon are house favorites. We keep them stocked –– amazing bargains, especially the Zinfandel from very old, gnarley vines –– in this case, vines planted in the early 1900s.The yields from these elders are small but the grapes are dark and rich and bursting with the intense flavors of the excellent Zinfandel grape (I know you’re not thinking of White Zinfandel, but if you are, there is no taste similarity of White Zin to any red Zinfandel).The 2013 has an alcohol content of 14.5 percent, and is dry (info straight from the winery) with a tiny 0.15 grams per liter of residual sugar. Read on for a clue to Bogle’s budget friendly pricing (hint: has nothing to do with inferior grapes, inferior soil, lack of sun, unattractive maritime conditions or unethical winemaking ethics, of lack of skills).


2015-11-15_Thanksgiving_Bogle_Old_Vine_Zin_ 2013

(Really, my walls aren’t that yellow! The paint sells under ‘Coronado Gold.’ My kitchen table’s busy at the moment.)

We’ll serve our red-wine-loving guests their Old Vine Zinfandel in this serious red wine glass. Can’t remember the manufacturer, but it was labeled a “Barbera” glass, and they bring out the oooohs and ahs every time we use them. Wine tasting notes a few paragraphs down.

About Old Vines:

These vines are survivors. When most vines are commercially viable for about 25 years, these old vines have lived through two battles with phylloxera, prohibition and several periods of consumer popularity fluctuations. Through it all, these vines and the wine made from them, truly reflect Sonoma County and the different AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) where they still thrive.

“Old vine Zinfandel should be preserved and honored as part of our past,” says Dr. Jim Wolpert, University of California at Davis. “They are a national treasure and should be treated with reverence like our old redwoods and oak trees.” Source: Sonoma Winegrowers

The quotation above is from Sonoma growers. Bogle is not located in Sonoma, but the idea of the “old vine” does not belong solely to Sonoma or Napa. The Bogle winery is located in Clarksburg, California [Yolo County]. Clarksburg has it’s own AVA (American Viticultural Area).

Today the CWGVA is made up of 46 grower members, 12 winery members and 48 associate members. It’s committed to growing awareness, improving quality, and fostering sustainable growth for the Clarksburg Appellation.

The majority of our grower members—some from farm families located in the area for generations—are individuals directly involved in their vineyards and have a personal commitment to produce the best grapes possible. CWGVA growers directly work with the wineries to achieve the high-quality grapes they demand.

There are over 7,000 acres of wine grapes grown by our grower members. We grow over 35 varieties, the most popular being Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Petite Sirah, and Sauvignon Blanc.

The Appellation

Located on the Sacramento River, the Clarksburg AVA is profoundly defined by the maritime influence of the Sacramento Delta, and has been statistically identified as comparable to the best wine grape regions in California (Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles) in terms of degree days and day to evening temperatures.

Cool evenings and warm days with limited summer fog allow Clarksburg to grow a diverse portfolio of premium grapes and wine. We’re known for a range of both red and white varietals that grow very well.  Because there is significantly less probability of spring frost, we’re ensured relatively consistent crop loads.  Less rainfall during critical growing stages ensures consistent quality, and less spring rainfall depletes ground water faster, stressing vines sooner to create more flavor. Source

The fruit for Bogle’s Old Vine Zin comes from Lodi and Amador. Lodi is located in Yolo County (as is the winery).

Lodi, Yolo County in Yellow, Amador County just to the top right of the blue spot on the map

Lodi, Yolo County in Yellow, Amador County just to the top right of the blue spot on the map

Yolo County is just 15 minutes from Sacramento, intersecting interstates 5, 80 and 505. Yolo County’s wineries feature a variety of wines including Chardonnay, Merlot, Old Vine Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah Port and Tempranillo.

Amador County is located 30 miles southeast of Sacramento, off historic Highway 49. Thirty-plus wineries grow more than 2,700 acres of grapes and produce some of the best Zinfandels in America. Amador’s production of intensely flavored red wines can be attributed to its high percentage of old vines. About 600 acres of the county’s vines are at least 60 years old. Several vineyards date to the 19th century. Views in the wineries encompass peaceful valleys, winding river canyons and the awesome Sierra Mountains. Source

Here’s the good news, and this is my opinion. California Old Vine Zin producers outside the Napa and Sonoma areas can keep the price down because the words “Napa” or “Sonoma” are not on the label. You simply pay more for all wine grapes grown in those two areas (not saying they’re not worth it). Old vines = small yields, naturally indicating a more expensive wine, but when you taste Bogle’s Old Vine Zinfandel 2013, you will ponder how it’s possible to sell this alluring vino for the $8.00 to $12.00 I see all across the country.

Rule of thumb: Serve lighter, gentler wines for Thanksgiving. I don’t get it. Well, I get it, but it shouldn’t be a rule. Beaujolais from the juicy Gamy grape is welcome on my table. Pinot Noir from one of California’s stellar producers is welcome on my table (but I’ll have to save up for a few weeks to buy the numerous bottles I need for my crowd (Meiomi $18.00 to $20.00 per bottle and definitely worth it – see others at the end of this article). Bogle’s Old Vine Zin is not lighter, not gentler, but it is balanced, round and ripe. Think about it: sage in stuffings/dressings, garlic throughout many dishes, butter, cranberries, roasted pecans, walnuts and sweet potatoes/yams dolled-up for the special day. Not so gentle flavors, and they all reside on the same plate with the turkey and giblet gravy.

My Tasting Notes:

This Bogle Old Vine Zin is dazzlingly aromatic with fresh strawberry-jam, plums, cinnamon and pepper in the nose. On the palate, the big, lively flavors of blackberries, cherries, and pomegranates, black pepper and nutmeg, first fill the nose with an earthy goodness, followed by a finish long enough to be sufficient, but not close to overwhelming the riot of Thanksgiving flavors on your plate.

Other Suggestions:

● Pinot Noir under or around $20: Deloach Russian River Pinot Noir 2013, Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2013,

● Sea Smoke Pinot Noir “Southing” 2012 – priced at $60 and upward, close to three digits.

● French Burgundy (Pinot Noir) from the 2012 – 2010 vintages. Likely still young, but almost all the wines we drink are too young, and not at their peak.

● Beaujolais Villages: Visit this list with ratings and prices (more than one page to browse). Have no idea what’s available in your market.

● Malbec 2012 vintage

● Syrah/Shiraz 2012 or 2010 vintages

Relying on a merchant’s wine manager is always a good thing.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful day of thanks giving.

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