Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red in search of a stellar, single-vineyard California Zinfandel, worthy of our Operative’s exacting tastes.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Amapola Creek Vineyards & Winery
Wine Subject: 2009 Zinfandel – Monte Rosso Vineyards -Viñas Antiguas
Winemaker: Richard Arrowood
Winemaker Backgrounder: Today, Agent Red brings you a wine from legendary winemaster, Richard Arrowood, who’s distinguished winemaking career began in the 1960’s. In 1974, mister Arrowood became the winemaker – and employee number one – at Sonoma County’s Chateau St. Jean. Over the next decade, Arrowood focused on crafting some of the worlds finest single vineyard wines in the region. Today, Richard Arrowood focuses on crafting stunning wines at his own Amapola Creek Vineyards & Winery.
Vineyard Backgrounder: The fabled Monte Rosso Vineyard, owned by the Louis M. Martini Winery since 1938, is considered to be among the most highly regarded vineyards in the Sonoma Valley. The vineyard is also considered to be the jewel in Louis M. Martini’s crown. Louis M. Martini sells their own 2009 Monte Rosso Zinfandel for $50.
The vineyard sits at the southern end of the Sonoma Valley AVA. One of the oldest wine growing regions in California, the first vines being were planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Zinfandel.
Look – Dark burgundy with the look of Concord grape juice at the darker heart of the wine. At the edge, a band of garnet encircles the glass. After swirling, short, thick, wine-stained legs take a long time to form, before moving very slowly down the glass.
Smell – Lush and balanced, with an initial rush of blackberry, black cherry and and sweet Bing cherry. Just behind these, aromas of blackberry bramble, dark chocolate, sweetwood, brown spice, dried tobacco, cracked pepper and subtle mint.
Feel – Instantly grippy, with plush tannins giving the wine a crushed velvet feel that spreads throughout the palate. A lively acidity frames the fruit, driving flavors all around the palate.
Taste – Deep, dark and purple, with delicious dark plum, blackberry preserves, black cherry and stewed plum. As the wine opens up, it also reveals tobacco leaf, black tea leaf, smoky dark spice, black pepper and flinty minerals.
Finish – Super long and velvety with sustained black fruit that gradually yields to earthy flavors, spice and cracked pepper at the very end.
Conclusion – Today’s exquisite 2009 Amapola Creek Monte Rosso Zinfandel is dark, delicious and very balanced wine. With plenty of dark fruit, this wine is long on flavor and with its plush feel, our tasting panel found itself taking large gulps of the wine – rather than dainty sips. This is a wine that encourages you to really drink it. And, to inhale it; the nose is simultaneously sweet and dark. The more you swirl the wine, the more both aromas and flavors really come to life. Fine tannins give the wine a velvety feel. For a relatively young wine, it drinks perfectly – which makes us think that it will only get better with more age. This wine gets our very hearty recommendation.
The approximate location of the Amapola Creek Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.