2017 Drive Wines, Zinfandel, Puccioni Ranch, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County.
I was really excited to get the Drive Wines debut set of releases by winemaker John Musto, who works for Ridge Vineyards, one of my all time favorite producers and who has like me a background in vintage cars and historic motor racing, in fact he has made some of his wines in the back of a classic car garage! Drive Wines was launched last year with a single vineyard Rosé of Zinfandel, the Comstock Vineyard from Dry Creek Valley and this wonderfully delicious old vine field blend made mostly of Zinfandel from vines that were planted in 1904 at Puccioni Ranch. These 116 year old vines make for a concentrated and complex wine with good ripe flavors led by dusty raspberry and sweet plum and black cherry fruits adding hints of toasty wood, wild flowers, minty herbs, a hint of loamy earth and snappy licorice. Musto, who could be a kindered spirit, has done a super job on this nicely drinking dark garnet red Zinfandel, it feels luxurious on the full bodied palate, but it has zesty lift that gives balance and doesn’t get heavy or dull at any point, it also has a lovely aftertaste that lingers on. I have to mention, being a racing car geek, the subtle strip of famous Wabash bricks on the bottom of the label that pays tribute to the famed Brickyard, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, hence the name Drive Wines.

This studied and racy (sorry for the pun) Zin was made from hand harvested grapes that were picked at night to retain freshness and detail with ultra careful sorting and all the grapes were de-stemmed and fermented using a selected yeast to avoid any volatile acidity forming with RP-15 “Rockpile” yeast cultures being employed here and primary lasted about 10 days with good color and flavor extraction with Musto doing gentle cap management and extending the maceration after fermentation for five days. One done, the wine was racked or pressed to barrel and aged 17 months with about 35% new French oak which gives this Zinfandel a smooth textural quality and accents it nicely with that smoky vanilla and cedary spice shadings, this will really appeal to classic Zin fans and gives this wine an element of refinement and elegance. With time in bottle this will gain a darker sense I think and fill out even more, though I absolutely enjoyed it with my Forth of July range of foods and it drinks easy right now, it certainly makes for a clean and pleasant companion with BBQ and burgers, especially simple cuisine choices. Once full open the Puccioni Ranch Zinfandel, air time brings out a pretty Mure (blackberry liqueur) note, lilac and some savory sage too keeping your attention. The Drive Wines Zinfandel shows potential and impress for the price, which is very reasonable considering how limited it is, I am looking for to popping the cork on Musto’s Rosé as well, this is a fun label to keep an eye on!
($29 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

By admin