2008 Portalupi Wine Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Mission Codename: Piemonte Progeny
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Place Portalupi Wines under surveillance. Send Agent Red in, undercover, to taste through their wines. Select their best Zinfndel and secure an ample allocation.
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Portalupi Wines
Winemaker: Tim Borges
Backgrounder: Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is a treasure trove of great wines. Arguably, the region is best known for producing some of the finest Zinfandel in the country. For today’s wine Agent Red infiltrated Portalupi Wines, whose tasting room is located in downtown Healdsburg. There, he sampled Portalupi’s fantastic 2008 Dry Creek Zinfandel. Excited by his discovery, Agent Red was able secure every last bottle of this wine for our Zin-loving Operatives.
Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. The Dry Creek Valley, where this Zinfandel’s grapes are are grown are characterized by their bright and balanced flavors, distinct minerality and spice are quite in popularity with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Intense ruby red hues – from edge to core. When spun, the wine shows off beautiful magenta reflections. After the wine settles, tall, widely-spaced tears form high on the glass wall, before running steadily downward.
Smell – Bold blackberry, black cherry and plum rush from the glass. Just behind these, additional aromas of dark leather, spice, dark dried leaves, bramble and black pepper round out the varied nose.
Feel – Plush and grippy across the tip of the tongue, this wine settles onto the mid-plate, where it takes on added dimension. This mouth-filling wine coats the entire palate, while medium tannins play against a lively acidity.
Taste – Absolutely bursting with dark flavors, blackberry, black cherry and dried cranberry present a juicy beginning. As the wine opens up, it softens and reveals more red fruits and earthen character. These follow-on flavors include raspberry, red plum, dried violets, dark dried fall leaves, brown spice, black pepper and just a hint of star anise.
Finish – Very long and flavor-filled, this wine starts with dark fruit that slowly yields to red fruit, dried flowers, spice and pepper.
Conclusion – The 2008 Portalupi Zinfandel is the sort of wine that we found ourselves taking large gulps of, rather than dainty sips! The wine is juicy and bursting with authentic fruit flavors, balanced against earthen elements of dried leaves, flower petals and just the right amounts of subtle pepper and dark spice. 2008 is turning out to be a great vintage for Dry Creek Zins and we give today’s special example our heartiest recommendation. We just wish that this food-friendly wine came in 1.5 liter bottles, because these ‘small’ bottles empty out so quickly!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Tim Borges
WINE EDUCATION: Self-taught. Audited enology classes at Santa Rosa, Junior College
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1977-1985 self-employed wine retailer (Two Street Wine &Cheese); Self-employed wholesale wine broker (Western Wine Marketing); Amateur winemaker, 1986-2002; General manager site developer (Cosentino Winery, Russian Hill Estate Winery);
2002-present owner/winemaker, Portalupi Winery
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Avoid being a (J.A.W.) just another winery
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “If the wine you’re having causes you to do more thinking than drinking then it’s probably not for you.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1987
AGENT RED: Greetings, Tim. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Portalupi Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
TIM BORGES: Great to be here with you and yourOperatives, Agent Red!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
TIM: Sharing a glass of Almaden French Colombard with my mother when I was a teenager
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
TIM: 3 wines inspired me, including a 1969 Chalone Pinot Noir Pinnacles Monterey County, a 1976 Montevina Barbera Special Selection Amador County, 1976 Carneros Creek Zinfandel Esola Vineyard Shenendoah Valley. As for winemakers, Mitch Cosentino, old Ying and Derek Irwin, young Yang.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
TIM: For my friends!
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
TIM: Our 2008 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is a medium bodied, claret style wine, with hints of lite raspberry, coconut, vanilla and white pepper. This wine is bright and drinkable now and over the next 2-4 years.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
TIM: What else? A traditional Italian staple, spaghetti Bolognese!
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Dry Creek Valley such a special place for Zinfandel?
TIM: Above average warmth during the growing season with minimal cooling in the evenings, along with red volcanic soil that gives the wine a mineral/spice character which balances off the rich fruit of the zinfandel grape – and adds complexity.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
TIM: Right now, I’m peparing for the bottling of our 2010 reds along with bringing in new barrels for the 2012 harvest.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
TIM: Think about a food that fits the wine, our wines are crafted to be enjoyed with all types of foods from Cheetos to braised lamb shank.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
TIM: remember there’s no right or wrong to what wine you should drink. It’s all about what works for you. Also, remember the best wines come from great grape growers who deliver their grapes to great winemakers – who in turn make great wines.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Portalupi Wines tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.