2018 Morelli Lane Vineyard Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
Russian River Valley
Morelli Lane Vineyard
September 26, 2018
17 months in French oak (40% new barrels)
The velvety plushness of our 2018 Morelli Lane Zinfandel is apparent right from the first sniff, luring you into the glass. Aromas of chocolate covered cherries and wild raspberries are underlain with violets and baking spices, topped off with a fresh brightness. The mouth is sweet and supple, with luscious raspberry compote leading the way, followed by lavender, nutmeg, and white pepper notes. A vibrant and persistent finish carries the flavors to a balanced and complex end.
The Morelli Lane Vineyard is archetypal for all we love about our part of the world: scenic, alive with history, and delicious. This 19th century planting is located at the top of Stoetz Ridge, just north of the town of Occidental on the far western edge of the Russian River Valley appellation. The dry-farmed, head-trained 1.8-acre block is all that's left of a vineyard planted by the Morelli family over 100 years ago. Left unfarmed for years, the Duttons (with prodding from Dan) revived the vineyard in 1995 and its fruit now enables us to provide this special limited bottling of old vine Zinfandel. Its cool proximity to the coast gives us a Zin of exceptional brightness and moderate alcohol; its hilltop perch facilitates the ripeness for wonderful fruit density and lush tannins; and its age gives us the personality that makes the wine truly special.
Making this wine is all about showcasing the special character of this wonderful vineyard—ebullient fruit, silky tannins, density without heaviness. To achieve this, we employ similar winemaking techniques as for our pinots: hand-sorting the fruit prior to destemming, cold soaking for 7 days, and fermenting in a small open top fermenter with gentle punchdowns. Our zin is aged only in French oak chosen to showcase the sweet fruit and candied spice overtones. The wine was racked once the spring of 2019 to marry the individual barrels, and to allow us to hone our barrel choices for its final aging. For this wine, we love Taransaud barrels for the structure and Asian spice they impart, and Cadus for their creamy caramel tones. The blend developed wonderful richness and breadth over summer and fall, and we bottled it in early April of 2020.
Food Pairing Notes
Baby back ribs or rack of lamb would make great matches, providing an equally rich partner, while a butternut squash ravioli would play up with the sweet nature of the wine. For cheeses, go with big flavors like an aged Gouda, Parmesan, or a well-aged cheddar.
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