2021 Arnot-Roberts, Zinfandel, Kirschenmann Vineyard, Mokelumne River, Lodi, California.
The ruby gemstone hued 2021 Arnot-Roberts Kirschenmann Zinfandel is wildly aromatic and reminds me of Fleurie Cru Beaujolais with a carbonic like creaminess and has racy raspberry led medium bodied palate. This is not like your average Zin, unlike anything you’d expect made from Lodi and or old vine Zinfandel and more like the mentioned Gamay, though regardless it is very entertaining, cleanly detailed and wonderfully delicious with crushed berries, snappy herbs, mineral tones and liquid flowers! One of the a new generation of California producers that have been re-imagining the state’s wine and giving a modern throwback quality, Arnot-Roberts continues to make some of the most intriguing wines on the market, impeccable in clarity and quality, and this latest set of releases are as good as it gets, including this debut offering of Zinfandel from Tegan Passalacqua’s almost a hundred ten year old Kirschenmann Vineyard in Lodi. Part of California’s rich legacy of old vine vineyards Kirschenmann set on the silica-rich sandy soils of the east side of the Mokelumne River AVA enjoys hot sunny days, but thanks to the river’s cool waters and the delta breezes here, these organic, dry-farmed bush vines are constantly protected from extreme heat and offer ripe flavors, richness, but with good natural acidity. This is all highlighted here in this 13.5% wine that adds strawberry, pomegranate, sandalwood, peony, kirsch and Asian spices in the glass, this certainly challenges the Zinfandel paradigm and is a thrilling wine that will go with burgers, roast chicken and hard cheeses.
The Kirschenmann Vineyard is, as noted, a historic site originally planted back in 1915 on deep sandy soils made up of ancient granitic loams with mainly own rooted Zinfandel, along with small amounts of Carignane, Cinsault and even Mondeuse Noir, a rare Savoie grape, all interspersed throughout vineyard, which is all dry farmed and classically head trained. For their unique version of Zinfandel, Arnot-Roberts fermented this vintage using 100% whole cluster, with native yeasts and a cool maceration, then aged the Kirschenmann in neutral barrels for 10 months. Only 4 barrels were produced, making it one of the most limited of their bottlings. As mentioned here in prior reviews, Arnot-Roberts was founded in Healdsburg in 2001 by childhood friends from Napa Valley, Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, who have excelled in creating some cult like favorites made from alternative varietals, like Trousseau, one of my favorites, Falanghina, Ribolla Giallo, Gruner Veltliner and this Touriga Nacional based Rosé, as well as an awesome set of Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Gamay offerings, all of which are worthy of searching out! This Zin, which now I wish I had bought more of, will not appeal to traditionalists, will be a fabulous contrasting example of this varietal, also known as Tribidrag in its original homeland of Croatia and Primitivo in Italy. I can’t wait to amaze my friends with this, especially the ones that love old world wines like Lapierre, Thivin, Sunier, Dutraive and Foillard (elite Cru Beaujolais producers) and or put it in a blind Zin lineup and watch the reactions! Far from light or greenly lean, this vinous and smooth Kirschenmann feels heavenly weightless, best served with a slight chill, and it will be interesting to see how it ages over the next 5 to 10 years.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive