Though the dilution of Zinfandel's brawn over the last decade has been lamented on these pages before, every now and again a bottle comes along that rekindles the fire and belief that the past can be relived.
Zinfandel has typically been viewed as a tonight's-the-night kind of wine. And with good reason. Much of its attraction can be attributed to youthful exuberance and flashy spiciness. Those qualities often come with the variety's characteristic ripe flavors and high alcohol. Throw all those factors together and what you end up with is a candle that burns hot and quick.
There are always exceptions to the rule, usually found quite by accident - as is the case here. Though hardly an elderly wine, four years is plenty longer than the average Zin's shelf life.
2008 St Francis Zinfandel Sonoma County Old Vines $18
(This wine was received as a press sample.) Balanced, smooth, and inviting. The fruit remains round and alive, though its vigor has subsided. This is not a bad thing at all as the wine's boisterous vitality has yielded to grace and understated confidence. A very pleasant drink that demonstrates why Sonoma County - and Dry Creek Valley in particular - are ideally suited to this variety.