Z-52 Winery specializes in vineyard designated Zinfandel; you cannot get more focused than that! They are based in Napa and similar to some of the other wineries we have visited, source fruit from high end vineyards both in Napa as well as other areas in California. Their philosophy is on terroir driven wines and in that case you go where you can find the highest quality fruit and depending on the varietal that is often outside of Napa. No, this winery should not be confused with the B52’s, the rock band. Their name comes from the original vineyard they sourced fruit from which contains 52 rows, the last name of the winemaker starts with Z and just for fun, there are 52 weeks in a year and 52 cards in a full deck. As of press time, the owners of Z-52 run four other labels including Waterstone. They also are partners in the walk-in Taste at Oxbox tasting room in Napa (just down from the Oxbow Public Market) where occasionally you can sample the Z-52 wines.
Tasting Zinfandels from different vineyards side by side gives one a powerful respect for how terroir can influence the wines’ flavor and aromas and produce markedly different wines. We began our tasting with their 2005 Lodi, Agnes Vineyard Zinfandel. The vines are over 50 years old, head pruned and dry farmed, all Central Valley floor grown. This is the jammiest of the Z-52 Zinfandels we tried but not overly so. Its a great food wine and chefs often find this is one of the easiest Zinfandels to pair with a variety of foods. This is by far their most produced wine.
The 2004 Amador Clockspring Vineyard Zinfandel is from an organically farmed vineyard at about 1800 feet in elevation. This is a very full bodied wine full of cherry and raspberry notes on the palate. The nose is fruit driven with eclectic spice aromas. For those who grew up in the SF Bay area you may have heard the commercial that ends with, “cows in Berkeley” and then a mooing sound – try Zinfandel grown in Carneros? Carneros is synonymous with cooler climate varietals including Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. However, this is exactly where Z-52 sources their Zinfandel from.
They source from the Truchard vineyard which has a unique microclimate compared to much of the Carneros district in that these vineyards are grown in a canyon which shelters the vines from the wind that so often blows through the Carneros region. Without the wind, you have a microclimate that can be significantly warmer at times. The only way you would “miss” the nose on this wine is if you are unable to smell. It is spice driven with great aromas of cloves, nutmeg and white pepper. The nose doesn’t immediately continue to the palate which is actually more fruit driven with cranberry and other dried fruits up front. However, the spices creep up again in the finish. Z-52 is currently distributed in select markets in 42 states as well as parts of Europe, Asia & Canada. Their wines are all very reasonably priced.
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