2017 Birichino "St. George Vineyard" Old Vine Santa Cruz Mountains Zinfandel

SKU #1390182 93 points Wine & Spirits

 Jon Locke and Alex Krause pull this wine from a 90-year-old own-rooted vineyard just outside the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. It’s a pleasure to taste over the course of a few days, starting out tart and crunchy, then filling out as dramatically as a spinnaker sail as it takes on air. Taut and generous at once, it’s refreshing and delicious.  (6/2019)

K&L Notes

Alex Krause and John Locke founded Birichino with a singular purpose - to make expressive wines of character from some of California's premier plots of cool-climate ancient vines. These are family-owned vineyards planted in the late 19th- and early 20-centuries, each one a time capsule of the wine history of the Golden State. The Besson vineyard, farmed by the same family for the past 94 years, is the source of the St. George's Old Vine Zinfandel. From a dry-farmed parcel planted 1922 at the feet of the Santa Cruz mountains, this wine is a consummate example of what California Zinfandel is meant to be. Conservative farming practices result in low-yields (rarely more than 2 tons per acre) and super-small clusters, which allow for full flavor and aromatic development without the need for over-ripening and the attendant jet fuel levels of alcohol. It's a showcase of pure California juice - no bells, no whistles, just history in a bottle.

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Price: $22.95

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- The bid to name Zinfandel California's "State Varietal" may have failed, but this red wine grape, grown extensively in California since the mid-1800s, is grown in few other places in the world. Sadly, much of what's cultivated today is planted where it's too hot and flat. But when planted to well-drained, hillside vineyards that are warm but not too hot, like those in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley and Amador County in the Sierra Foothills, Zinfandel can produce wines with plenty of character. High in natural alcohol and tannin, grown carefully it can be rich and complex, with dark fruit berry fruit and peppery spice. The most known example of Zinfandel outside of California is Italy's Primitivo, which can be similar in style, but is often a bit lighter and less alcoholic than West Coast examples.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Cruz Mountains

- Vineyards dot the valleys and ridges of this coastal AVA just south of San Francisco. Microclimates make it difficult to generalize, and vineyards are frequently separated by acres of forests and meadowlands (not to mention entire towns!), but this is nonetheless known as a cooler-climate zone ideal for pinot noir. Ridge is doubtless the most famous local producer, with its cabernet blend, Monte Bello, named after a Santa Cruz mountain peak. High-quality, low-production chardonnay and some Rhône varietals prosper as well.
Alcohol Content (%): 13