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2017 St. Francis Old Vine Zinfandel, Giovanetti Vineyard, Russian River Valley

At the time when St. Francis Winery was beginning to bottle its own wine, there were only a handful of wineries in Sonoma and the region was searching for an identity. The arrival of winemaker Tom Mackey in 1983 was the beginning of important growth at St. Francis and in Sonoma, as he and St. Francis helped to pioneer a Sonoma Valley style and pinpoint the varieties that were ideally suited to Sonoma soils. St. Francis was the first in the region to plant and bottle Merlot, and soon introduced Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel wines to the portfolio. The winery's first "Old Vines" Zinfandel was released in 1989, establishing one of its star varietal offerings and contributing to Sonoma County's growing reputation for top-quality Zinfandel. Today, a team of winemakers, including Christopher Louton and Katie Madigan, play an integral role in continuing St. Francis's success.

This is a very well-made Zinfandel and was one of our favorites from the tasting. The historic Giovanetti Vineyard produces one of St Francis’s most beloved old-vine Zinfandels. The vineyard is in the heart of Russian River Valley near Woolsey Road. This small, family-run, 8-acre vineyard was originally planted in Carignane in the late 1800s but was grafted over to Zinfandel and mixed blacks by the Giovanetti family in 1910. Today, the vineyard is owned and operated by Phyllis Giovanetti. Winemaker Katie Madigan included a small percentage of Petite Sirah for additional depth and color sourced from another old-vine vineyard in Russian River Valley closer to the town of Windsor.

In the glass the color shows a bit of maturity with a medium garnet hue. Aromas of blackberry, violets, notes of baking spices and chocolate fill the glass. The palate is full bodied with a silky texture and a creamy mouth-feel. The lively acidity carries this wine through to a beautifully long finish that lasts for minutes. The few years the wine spent in the bottle helped soften any hard edges and showed us a truly delicious and memorable Zinfandel.

By Perry Miroballi

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