Christie Kiley on March 2, 2015 1 Comment We are talking big red, bold wines people! I love a good California Zinfandel. This lovely grape with rustic roots from Old World Croatia is what originally put California on the wine-making map and for good reason. In its beginnings following the Depression and later Prohibition, this fruit was easy to plant, easily adapted to the long and hot growing seasons of Northern California and made wines that pleased not only the masses, but even the most seasoned wine drinkers. Today, Zinfandel does not just take on the style of a rustic, country wine. It can take on many layers and characteristics and be just a sophisticated as any of the other great California reds, you just have to know what to look for. Let me give you a hint for at least one great Zin to look for, The Prisoner Wine Company — 2013 Saldo Zinfandel. About the Team If you have perused the California wine section at your local wine merchant you might recognize the name. The Prisoner Wine Co. was established in 2009 and took on sort of an instant cult following, known for their artistic labels, and well, good wine. The winery changed hands in 2009 and Jen Beloz took over as the winemaker and offered over a decade of winemaking experience with her time at Ravenswood, where their signature wine is Zinfandel. It began with our featured wine label today, Saldo and later expanded with Jen into their other premium blends of Thorn, Blindfold and Cuttings. Where They Get Their Fruit Sometimes the advantage of not owning one’s own vineyards is the ability to go out source and do the research yourself as to who and where the best fruit is grown. The winemaking team of The Prisoner Wine Co. only source from the finest vineyards where Zinfandel grows best. They have built relationships with growers from many areas including; Lake Amador, Napa, Contra Costa, Sonoma and Mendocino. The hand-picked vineyards used for many of their wines are from Aparicio, Teldeschi, Dorn, Grist, Pato, Mattern and Taylor. From the Mattern site, located in Talmage Beach of Mendocino, these are older plantings originating from the 30s and 40s that are biodynamically farmed. The location here has extremely warm and long growing seasons, perfect for the ideal maturation of Zinfandel. Of the Sierra Foothills the Aparacio Zinfandel vines are grown in the ‘gobelet’ style. If you have ever driven the many highways of California wine-country and seen the vines that stand alone without any trellises training their vines, these are the vines we speak of. The Old World style allows for the fruit to hang freely without any compromise from wires and ridged-trained branches. Here they grow in ancient volcanic and red soils adding structure, depth and earthy aromatics to the fruit. In Dry Creek, sitting at one-thousand feet above sea level, these old vines of the Grist and Taylor vineyards are something you must see with robust, thick and gnarly trunks. The vineyard climate is cooler here sitting in volcanic soils. With cooler climate Zinfandel in their portfolio, their blends are able to take on another level and brighter notes, giving the traditionally known ‘jammy’ Zinfandel another reputation. In another antique vineyard, the Pato vines, planted in the 1870s are owned by the Christian brothers and are among some of the oldest living vines in all of California. The combinations of wind-blown beach sandy soils with gravel allow for good drainage and have contributed much to the long-life of these vines. The fruit from this region is well-developed with intense characteristics adding dark fruit character to The Prisoner Wine Co. iconic blends. About Saldo This wine is a blend of fruit from all the above mentioned vineyards and just as the vines themselves show many characteristics from many climates, you might expect the wine to do the same. You will not be disappointed. It is dense, but give it a few swirls in your glass and just watch the color of this inky and sultry wine cling to the sides of your glass as it flows around oh-so-smoothly like silk in the wind. Maybe before you crack it open, go out to the grocery and get a cut of short ribs and get them braising and slow-roasting in your oven. Grab the biggest Idaho potatoes and slice them into some serious steak fries and dig out the deep fryer. If you need a wine and a meal to end the week and put a smile on your face for the weekend, this combination will do the trick. The aromas of the wine come through with late-summer berry pies and preserves. The preserves your mum made that you spread on your toast with the seeds that stick in your teeth and stain your lips. There is more, with savory notes of fresh ground coffee beans, peppercorn and Christmas spice. There are flavors of blueberry and some dried herbs with a nice acidity to keep the wine’s finish long and more enjoyable. Yep, your day just got better.