93 Points - Wine Enthusiast
92 Insider Points
A Zin worthy of the High Valley. A mix of spice & red fruit on the nose gets you started in the right direction. Medium-bodied and simple, with creamy fruits, black pepper & chocolate, followed by a smooth, spicy finish. You'll want this one on your evening list. 92 Points - JZ September '17
"The raspberry and blackberry notes are lifted by spices on the midpalate leading to an integrated, yet subtle oak finish." - Wine Enthusiast
Lake County, California
80% French and 20% American oak
When invino’s founders first entered the wine industry, you couldn’t swing a cat* in Napa Valley without hitting on an awesome value in boutique Zinfandel.
These days, for Napa-quality Zin at 1990s Napa-level price tags, the place to look is Lake County, and more specifically at the mountain-grown vines of one of the county’s newest appellations, the aptly named High Valley AVA.
High Valley Vineyard is the secret-weapon, mile-high label of Shannon Ridge. And Shannon Ridge is one of Lake County’s best wineries. Owners Clay and Margarita Shannon are deeply committed to the environment and to sustaining the region’s substantial natural resources—the estate is home to a flock of sheep, which help to thin the canopy while providing…ahem… natural fertilizer.
These guys are changing the face of Lake County wine production. Their 2015 Zin, sourced from two certified California Sustainable vineyards is loaded with spice and deeply ripened forest berries, with big tannins that seem to melt into the long, sweet finish. Drink with a barbeque of brisket or carnitas.
*As lovers of cats and all animals, invino neither practices nor condones the swinging of cats
Four reasons we love it:
- True to its name, the High Valley AVA soars up to 3,000 feet in elevation amid the coastal ranges of California’s Lake County.
- This 2015 Zin is sourced from Round Mountain and Terre Vermielle vineyards—two of High Valley’s best for the varietal.
- Aged in 80% French and 20% American oak and bottled at just over 15% abv, this is a bold, massively bodied Zin made for equally bold foods.
- The 2015 vintage was defined by extremes: record-breakingly high temps in the Spring, proceeding record rainfall, and the more than occasional wildfire in the region, adding its own climactic influences.
The raspberry and blackberry notes are lifted by spices on the midpalate leading to an integrated, yet subtle oak finish.
From the winery:
In the late 1980s, we began working with wine grapes from Lake County and recognized the area's potential to grow great mountain fruit. Then, in 1995, we visited a magnificent mountain property about 35 miles north of the Napa county line. At altitudes of 2,100 to 2,400 feet above sea level, these steep mountain ridges are cooled by steady winds off Clear Lake and from the higher peaks just north of us. The lean, rocky volcanic soils promised to make the vines produce small berries with concentrated flavors.
There was also the stunning beauty of the ridge. To the south, you see the deep blue waters of Clear Lake sheltered by Mount Konocti. To the north, snowcapped mountains loom above, and all around us, brick-red rocky soils. The landscape is rugged and wild and so are our neighbors; we're surrounded by wildlife. In addition to the ducks, geese, deer, raccoons, quail, golden eagles, wild turkey, chipmunks, and bobcats that visit us regularly, we've spotted bald eagles, a mother bear and her cubs, and mountain lion tracks! Everything about this land screamed out to us, and we answered with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
Our first vineyard on the ridge was Terre Vermeille, which is planted to Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, and Sauvignon Blanc. Since then, we've developed several additional vineyards and have put down our roots here. For the first three years, we lived in a small cabin on the Caldwell Ranch. We've moved into a more accommodating home with magnificent views of the vineyards and mountain ridges.
On the dramatic piece of property called Caldwell Ranch, the Petite Sirah rows run vertically on a slope so steep that if it were a ski slope, it would earn a black-diamond rating. The ridges wrap around the inside of the canyon, providing southern, western, and northern exposures for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Mourvèdre, and Sauvignon Blanc grown there.
Of the 1,000 acres on the Ranch, only 60% to 70% will be converted to vineyards. The balance of the land has been preserved for wildlife, which wanders through the property from the expansive wilderness to the north and east. The Shannons have carefully planned all of their vineyards to leave corridors open to migrating animals and protect nesting areas.