Apparently when you do good deeds in the wine world, you are sometimes rewarded. Such was the case when http://www.winela.com/ founder Ian Blackburn found out (because I told him) that I highlighted his fabulous calendar of classes in my weekly Dear Wine Friend newsletter.
He asked for my address. Then he sent me his latest buzz-worthy wine, the 2012 Beekeeper Cellars Zinfandel. The wine, yet to be publicly released, sat in my cellar for about a month and finally, I had the perfect occasion for it.
My daughter Samantha had just passed her first class, a math class no less, at CSUN. We would celebrate by taking her and her boyfriend out to dinner to her favorite steak restaurant, Backwood’s Inn. And we would celebrate with a Beekeeper, our own wine glasses and a corkage fee under $10.
My Tasting Notes
(Though Ian provided his own notes, I didn’t cheat and look at them before tasting his wine. That’s just a game I play with myself to see if my palate picks up the same flavors. Scroll down to see Ian’s tasting notes.)
Aroma: Having pulled the bottle from my temperature-controlled cellar just an hour before, I could really tell how much the cold could close down a wine’s aromas. Waiting about ten minutes while swirling and warming the glass with my hands, I noted juicy blue to black fruit, grilled mushrooms, chocolate truffles and toasted oak.
Flavor: The blackest of ripe blackberries, cracked pepper, dark chocolate, the hint of a cigar and tannins that rounded it all every-so-nicely in my glass. (I had no idea of the wine’s 15.2% alcohol content until someone read if off the bottle, there was no excessive “heat” in this wine.)
Conclusion: After ten more minutes, and throughout my entire meal (grilled BBQ salmon), I noted how the tannins slowly softened while keeping the wine’s fruit structure firm and resilient. Definitely want to try the older vintages, as well as next year’s release. Well done Ian. 95 Eve Points.
Notes From Founder Ian Blackburn
Zinfandel, Black Sears Vineyard “Old Vines” Howell Mountain, Napa Valley 2012 (Nicknamed ‘Black Bee’)
Grape: 99% Zinfandel 1% Petite Sirah
Vineyard: Dry Farmed, Old Vines – Organic and Biodynamic Practices
Appellation: Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
Vintage: 2012 Bottled Dec 17th, 2013
Alcohol: 15.2% RS 2 g/1000ml PH 3.79 TA 5.66
Oak: 100% French – 30% New for 15 months.
Winemakers: Clay Mauritson, Emma Kudritzki and Ian Blackburn
Production: 4200 Bottles (350 Cases)
ABOUT: Beekeeper Cellars
Zinfandel, Black Sears Vineyard “Old Vines” Howell Mountain, Napa Valley 2012
The historic “Black Sears Vineyard” returned my call in Summer of 2012, I was looking for some pedigree hillside fruit to grow the Beekeeper brand and to give our clients another peak at our quality approach. I called many of the famous vineyards, but reputable hillside zinfandel is highly spoken for and getting really hard to find. Luckily, Black Sears returned the call, our timing was very good.
Black Sears Vineyard is located at 2400 feet on the top of Howell Mountain, in the Napa Valley. The Vines, planted in the 1970’s are dry farmed (no irrigation) and also farmed organic, with bio-dynamic practices. Planted on St. George rootstock, the bud wood came from the Hayne Vineyard in St. Helena (One of Zinfandel’s “Heritage Clones”). The fruit set was huge in 2012, but optimal conditions provided even ripening and 2012 will be considered a very good vintage, especially for Black Sears.
The resulting Beekeeper Cellars wine is 99% Zinfandel and 1% Petite Sirah. It spent 15 months in French Oak, 30% was new. It was un-fined but gently filtered at bottling.
Blackburn’s Tasting Notes
A dark ruby colored wine from rim to rim with a nose of spicy cracked black pepper, cold steel, graphite, dried herbs, violets, wild berry and dark plum, and hints of salted caramel. The mouth is rich, endowed and pronounced; with broad structure, ample tannin, and power, yet balanced within its large frame.
Beekeeper Cellars focuses on crafting beautiful Zinfandel, made from pedigree hillside vineyards with distinctive character and quality wine-making techniques.