2007 Armida Winery Tina’s Block Maple Vineyard Zinfandel

Mission Codename: Tina’s Choice

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Infiltrate Armida Winery and secure a limited allocation one of their superb single vineyard Zinfandel

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Armida Winery

Wine Subject: 2007 Tina’s Block Maple Vineyard Zinfandel

Winemaker: Brandon Lapides


Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is a treasure trove of great wines. While The Wine Spies have been trying to keep from acquiring too many wines from the region when the wines are great, so why not? Today’s wine is sourced from Tom and Tina Maple’s 27 acre vineyard near the intersection of Lytton Springs and Dry Creek Roads. Being dry farmed and with its clay and loam rocky soil it is particular well suited to exceptional Zinfandel.

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 – Deepest ruby red, with an dark and dark but clear core of ruby and purple hues. Along the edges the color remains deep and intense with evenly spaced medium legs that descend deliberately to the wine below when swirled.

Smell – Solid blackberry and ripe plum notes along with a touch of red fruit blend with woody vanilla toasted oak, green herbal notes, licorice and dark chocolate, a touch of black pepper and hints of lavender adds complexity to the robust nose.

Feel – Smooth and expansive on the tongue with firm but well integrated tannins and balanced acidity softens as this wine opens and despite a generally higher alcohol content it doesn’t overpower. Hints of dark minerality keeps things interesting into the finish.

Taste – Abundant and bold black and red fruit, including ripe blackberry, dark plum and black cherry layers over licorice, black pepper and toasted vanilla oak notes. Dark chocolate, sweet spice and soft bramble herbs also make their presence known.

Finish – Long, clean and plush, this wine’s generous fruit and sweet spice, chocolate and herbal notes fade gently in unison begging for another big gulp.

Conclusion – The 2007 Armida Winery Tina’s Block Maple Vineyard Zinfandel is a delicious and while big and bold, is also remarkably elegant for a powerful Zin. Smooth and plush with plenty of complexity this is a great wine for the holidays and will certainly become a fan favorite. If enjoying this wine now, be sure to give it a few minutes to open up or cellar for the next five plus years.

Agent Sass’s Review:

With a seductive nose of perfumed lavender, plum and just a hint of elegant dark chocolate; this deeply colored wine showcases as one of the best Zinfandels around! With dramatic hues of cranberry color so vibrantly illuminating one’s glass, each mouthful of this smooth and sophisticated wine soothes the palate, and even surpasses the big bold cabs and Meritage reds, with its full, albeit ever so gulpable body. A guaranteed delight, to those who covet powerful and still beautiful grape, this Zin gets even better, while open and exposed to air. Simply put, this opulent selection of wine shall become one of your favorites, and from the first sip right through to the last! (see below for a complete bio of Agent Sass)

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Brandon Lapides

WINE EDUCATION: BS. Fermentation Science University of California at Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Internships: Testarossa Vineyards, RH Phillips, Brancott Cellars; Assistant Winemaker: Peachy Canyon Winery, Dutton Goldfield Winery

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Lets bring back the old school philosophies, using as little new technology as possible.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Fill up my cup, Mazeltov.” – Black Eyed Peas.


AGENT RED: Greetings, Brandon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Tina’s Block Maple Vineyard Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

BRANDON LAPIDES: Its great to be back with you, Agent Red!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

BRANDON: Growing up I was mystified that when our whole family would get together, there would be many lengthy discussions about different wines. My curiosity then led to my eventual love of wine.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

BRANDON: ’61 Latour. My grandfather had enough foresight to start buying Bordeaux wines in the late 60’s. I have been fortunate enough to have a few bottles over a span of 10 years. The wine has been the only wine that I have tasted that has ever lived up to its hype. The balance and complexities in the ’61 Latour after 40+ years of aging influenced my winemaking to try to have as much longevity in my own wines.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

BRANDON: Our 2007 Zinfandel from Tina’s Block, within Maple Vineyard is a very special wine that we make. Tina’s Block is a two-acre block of dry farmed zinfandel within the famous Maple Vineyard. The vines are extremely old and they struggle to even put out 2 tons per acre of fruit. The block was planted as a field blend, so there is many other types of grapes besides just Zinfandel, there is Mission, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Black Malvatia, and Alicante Bouchet. This mix of different varietals lends to a completely unique wine, the heart of the wine is beautiful juicy zinfandel with the other varietals adding color, spice and aromatics.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

BRANDON: My favorite recipe is Slow-Cooked Lamb’s Leg in Pomegranate sauce. The richness of the meat and the sweet-acidity of the pomegranate pairs very well with the balance of the Tina’s Block.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Mape Vineyard so special?

BRANDON: Maple Vineyard in the heart of Dry Creek Valley, is the essence of Zinfandel. With many of the vines being planted in 1910, without any drip irrigation the vines struggle, which in turn produces rich, concentrated zinfandels. These types of vineyards are becoming more scarce and so are the incredible resulting wines.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

BRANDON: We are one week from bottling some of our other wines from the 2009 vintage. After the bottling we will make sure that all of the wines from the 2010 harvest are behaving and set to hibernate through the new year.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

BRANDON: I always recommend that consumers accompany our wines with food. Our wines pair well with a variety of foods and should be consumed with family and friends.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

BRANDON: I would love to invite any of your readers to come visit our vineyards, winery and tasting room right outside of Healdsburg. We have a beautiful patio with an incredible view overlooking our vineyards and manicured gardens. There is also a bocce ball court to test your skills after a glass of wine.

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 Armida Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

About Agent Sass:

Agent Sass, currently a resident of New England, is a bond girl to the Nth degree! Speaking multiple languages, feasting on exotic game meats, drinking exclusively red wines – but for the occasional bubbly or Zind Humbrecht white – and having an affinity for leather trousers and “high fashion” shoes; Agent Sass produced an edgy wine etiquette DVD: www.sassfrommyglass.com. She has enjoyed wine with her dinner nightly, since age 10, and taught extemporaneous speaking to college students prior to today. While drinking copious reds, Agent Sass raises very pampered Cocker Spaniels and prepares all of their gourmet food from scratch. Despite her luscious crush on Malbecs, her favorite wine is tied between Ghost Horse Cabernet & Screaming Eagle Cabernet – still a delicious “menage a trois” for Sass, while she determines which it is, that truly hits the spot best for her!

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