This 2017 Old Vine Zinfandel boasts ripe fruit and many layers of complexity due to Mendocino’s coastal climate. An aromatic bouquet of blackberry and cassis fill the glass. Flavors of red strawberries, boysenberry, and vanilla open to a velvety smooth mouthfeel backed by very little tannin and good structural acidity. This wine will pair perfectly with a variety of dishes including braised short ribs, Italian pasta or wood-fired pizzas.
This gem of an Old Vine Zinfandel was grown on a small, 80-year-old vineyard along the Russian River in Mendocino. Matured vines like these are extremely rare and are sought after; for they produce a less overall quantity of fruit, allowing the existing clusters plenty of energy and sunlight to ripen and create a finer, more regal wine.
Varietal Composition: Zinfandel 98%, Petite Sirah 2%
Hawley Winery and Vineyards is located near Healdsburg, overlooking the Dry Creek Valley. John Hawley started the winery in 1996, after 20 years of winemaking at some of California’s most influential wineries. Today, John and his two sons, Paul and Austin Hawley, produce unique wines from their certified organic vineyards and select Sonoma County grapes.
We craft nine different wines at Hawley Winery, although more than half of them are less than 500 cases. Producing only 3,000 cases annually, we enjoy the freedom of our small family winery to make a variety of wines and styles. Making wines in small lots from select vineyards allows us to capture the character of a vineyard and a vintage, the terroir. We enjoy crafting small lots of unique wines that express our Sonoma County vineyards.
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2017 Hawley Old Vines Zinfandel, Mendocino 15% ABV
Got an email from WCCWineGirl shortly after getting the UPS notification that a single bottle was on the way from WCC. Woot! (Are we still allowed to say that?) The bottle showed up Wednesday evening as we were sitting down for our seder, and it sat upright until tonight.
On opening the cork appears super fresh - no staining at all. Colour is red-purple with it fading to clear at the edge. (Sorry, I don’t know how to put pictures here without having a cloud account that I don’t have.) Aromas indicate a fairly classic/typical young Zinfandel - big red and black fruit, some dust, a hint of mint, and a small whiff of alcohol. Some sniffs just smell “purple” and “like red wine” - also not that unusual for a bigger Zin. (And incidentally, why I stay away from younger Zins most commonly.)
First sips. Surprisingly earthy, thankfully for my tastes, lots of red berries and even blackberry. No real stone fruit (looking for plum) that I notice immediately. Reasonably balanced acidity - it won’t pucker or taste sour but it’s got enough acidity to give it structure. Medium+ length herbal and earthy finish. Not much to speak of with respect to tannin. Unsurprisingly, this is super primary at this time. It didn’t evolve a ton in the glass for the first hour of sipping.
For my tastes, I’d probably wait 3-5 years before going in on the next bottle. For reference, though, I’m just starting to think my 2009-2011 Wellington Zins are entering their prime drinking windows. I like my Zins ageable and aged.
Glass 2, about 1.5 hours later. As I want to gauge how this will evolve, I poured this from high up to get maximal air mixture. No Vinturi here! Immediately on pouring this glass it was more savoury - this is a good sign. Some of the baby fat has blown off along with the hints of heat I was getting from the start of the first glass. This is now more like what I prefer, but still of course full of the sappy young fruit one would expect. There’s also now a hint of leather, especially in the mid palate and finish. The sweet fruit is also balanced by a hint of bitterness, maybe from some stem inclusion?
Additional air doesn’t change it much - but the last sip of tonight was the best, imo. The remainder, a bit more than half the bottle, is corked on the counter to see how it does on days 2 and 3.
My first impressions are that if you like bigger Zins, but with structure and cooler climate fruit characteristics then this is for you. If you’re on the Turley mailing list and you pop them immediately on release, then this also may be fore you. If you prefer Harvest Moon Zins or Scott Harvey Reserve or 1869 with a decade+ of age, then this might be a bit too far toward the bigger jammy style. For me there’s a place for both - but I let my Turley bottles sit for at least 5-8 years before drinking.
Also, at $10/bottle case price this is one hell of a deal. Wish it was the Hawley Merlot or Meritage, as I have some fond memories of those bottles from the old woot days.
@wnance I’ve found some old Turleys and have mostly enjoyed them. A couple didn’t seem better off with the ~20 years on them. But 7-12 seems to be a sweet spot for my tastes for Turley.
The other one I forgot is Ridge. I don’t even think about opening those until their tenth birthdays. And I’ve got one remaining 1997 Geyserville for a special occasion. (And some older Monte Bello for really special occasions.)
@klezman Nice rattage, thanks. Almost wants me to gamble on weather. Brown not a problem as of the moment since they are just dropping stuff off now. Could use some zin and my stash is 1000 miles away and doesn’t look like I’ll be at it anytime soon…hmmmm. And obviously it won’t be for aging. Might pair well with my new smoker on the way though
@klezman@wnance I thought I had some old Ridge, went down to the “cellar” to look, and all I have are a few 2000-2003 Late Harvest/Picked Zins. I am disappoint. I do, however, have lots of old Turley Zins and PS…so…I’m ok.
It’s always 5:00 somewhere, and now that includes here in California!
I just reopened the bottle from last night and immediately notice that the wine has calmed down a bit and evolved a touch as well. There’s less of the in your face fruit and more of a balanced earthy and spicy component - which, honestly, I was hoping to find in a proper old vine Zin. The fruit, however, is taking on a tiny bit of oxidation. There’s still no mistaking this for a light and lithe version of the grape, but it’s certainly coming together in ways the suggest a couple years in the cellar will reward those who are patient.
Last third of the bottle is recorked until tomorrow afternoon.
OK, night 3 - for science!
As I struggle through my taxes, a glass of wine seemed appropriate. The astringency seems to have taken a bit of an uptick. The flavours have turned a bit more oxidized (unsurprisingly) and the herbal notes and non-fruit complexities are a bit more forward. So yes, based on this 3 day tasting I’m guessing this will either be enjoyable now if you like fruit-forward Zin and will probably gain in complexity and interest over the next 3-5 years for those who prefer a more “refined” version of the grape.
@moondigger No real oak influence as far as the aromas/palate are concerned. Maybe a hint of vanilla here and there. Not a lot of tannin. i.e. in my opinion the oak was done properly.
@klezman Thanks. Sounds like it might match my preferences more than my wife’s. So breaking the WBM is probably going to be a hard sell. All of our temp-controlled storage is full and we have about four cases just sitting on the basement floor. Not that we aren’t making an effort… it was six cases on the floor when the WBM started at the end of February.
@bent80@Winedavid49 thanks WD. SH 1869 was i think the first LH Zin I had and fell in love. then this one but in the 16 vintage and then Laura Michaels vertical… has become some of my favorite style of drinking.
@klezman why do you say that? I see it all the time! This bottling was either made for restaurants, end product did not live up to expectations, or like I said, a 2nd or 3rd stringer. I’ve been burned enough times to finally learn this is a practice by some producers.
@losthighwayz This is likely because it’s Mendo fruit and not Sonoma county. As far as I know this Zin, previous vintage and this one, are the only ones with the darker label and not available in the tasting room or online. I’ve been a member for a decade now. FWIW I bought the 2016 from casemates and enjoyed it for weeknight pizza or other fare. At this price you can’t really go wrong.
@losthighwayz You’re implying that it’s a low quality wine because you didn’t find it on their website or CT. That’s nonsensical if that’s the only reason.
If you read my rattage and came away thinking “this is a low quality wine”, then I’ll just have to wonder how you managed that.
If, on the other hand, you simply mean that it’s not part of their mainline production and it’s a special lot, then perhaps I would agree. In the offer for the 2016 of this last year the winery explained that it’s simply Mendo grapes and that’s different from all their other wines.
@klezman not impying it’s a low quality wine. It may or may not be but that is true for many wines. What I am trying to get across is transparency, that’s all. WD was on here last night and chose not to address this particular discussion. It simply makes me wonder. I may be completely wrong though! I just made an observation that in my opinion is legitimate.
@trifecta I agree. I am just curious who they sell 700 cases to? Also, in my experience, many wineries offer wines not in their AVA or region. Just has me wonder why its not available through the usual channels.
@losthighwayz That might be true for other wineries, but this Zin is the only one so far for Hawley. I agree with your initial assessment that this is a different tier wine, clearly indicated by the different label. IMO the Ponzo, estate, Treforce, etc… zins are all better wines, but those are triple to 4x this price. As I said before, the 2016 was a good enjoyable midweek food wine, and I don’t much care for most Zins (sans dry Creek and a few other exceptions).
There might be no outside availability yet simply because they are launching it on casemates. It’s a tough time right now for so many, including wineries. It might have been planned for restaurant pour distribution, which is now nil.
@losthighwayz Of course price makes a difference. Is that a serous question?
For 20 or 30 bucks a zin would have to approach Ridge Lytton Springs or the like. But a decent daily red for 10 bucks? And like I said, cellar tracker is no barometer. It’s full of cranks and amateurs who know nothing about wine and think they’re being smart.
@losthighwayz When you say “tier” you are implying quality, at least how I read. While I’m not debating whether it’s to your tastes, I’m just saying that it’s of the same high quality level I’ve experienced with other Hawley wines - not a “lower quality” wine, or as I’d generally call it, a “second tier” wine.
As for transparency, go back to last year’s thread where the winery discussed this exact thing. IMO, nothing nefarious going on. This is not like the WTSO-designed Scott Harvey wine, which I would definitely call second tier.
Venturi opened it up a little, but this needs to sit.
Decanted 5 hrs
It’s opened up a lot, but the bitterness has moved to the front. Not-quite ripe green apples and cherry.
The sour pucker finish just lasts forever. It’s not unpleasant but begs for a stinky cheese…which I don’t have…and shopping day isn’t until Saturday.
We’ll see how it goes with breakfast tomorrow (don’t judge me, it’s going to be a GOOD Friday I’m doing this for YOU)
…this is NOT a breakfast drink.
It’s drinkable. It’s good. Still a hint of tannins and the acidity is bigger than I like. But…where did the rest of the bottle go?
This needs to sit in a dark corner for 3-4 years before I open another bottle.
The QPR and future on this looks good. Decant a bottle when you get it. Put the rest in the back of the cellar.
@bent80@kevo152 Love it!
I couldn’t care less about these aeration methods - I’ve been known to give a bottle a Mollydooker Shake from time to time, too. But if you did that as the only taste for a lab rat bottle, I bet there’d be some rather annoyed people in internetland.
@Boatman72@chipgreen@marikar@pjmartin I’d be happy with either 3 or 4, so we would need just one more on board for a 3 way split. I’ll sit back for a short while, but then probably get a case and see who shows up.
@mrn1 In normal times, I can come up with other things to do in CLE to make the trip worthwhile. Right now, it would only be to save $ on a wine split. But happy to hold onto it for a while if that helps anyone.
@mrn1 Sounds great!! Much better than a bag of jelly beans or colored hard boiled eggs!! I know a lot of Easter & Seder family celebrations are cancelled because of the COVID19. We did because I’m high risk right now. We’ll connect via technology! Stay safe!
@CruelMelody@GatorFL@Luv2hug maybe by next shipping season we’ll be allowed human contact, work a split if anything clicks both of our triggers. Problem is ups really doesn’t work for me. Anyway we’re outside of Beaufort and day trips to SAV are always in play.
Funny thing happened while we waited ALL DAY for this delivery that was slated to be delivered between 12:30 - 4:30; it never showed up?!?! But when I thought I heard a truck going down our street, I open the door just to find a “Sorry We Missed YOU” slip - from 7:15pm, while we watch a movie not 5 feet from the fount door. NO boor bell, NO knocking, No Nothing, What the hell?? UPS> Unbelievably Poor Service.
I know UPS gets a lot of hate here, but my driver is amazing. He rang my bell and waited for me and then did a no signature needed. He’s like a part of our family, we give him a Christmas present every year.