Wine Review: Tin Barn Vineyards Russian River Valley 2007 Zinfandel Gilsson Vineyard

This is a big (15.5% alcohol!) Zin in an elegant package from Tin Barn Vineyards, artisan producer of fine wines in Sonoma, CA. Michael Lancaster is a Toronto native living and practicing independent winemaking here.  Even though Russian River Valley is known primarily for its’ Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, there are a number of Zinfandel vineyards in RRV and many Zin producers including DeLoach, Passalacqua, and the newer Portalupi label.

Tin Barn says this Zinfandel is from 35-year-old vines planted in a flat sandy block of the Gilsson Vineyard, just east of the town of Windsor in Sonoma County. The 2007 vintage is said to be reminiscent of the 2005, which won Gold, Best in Class honors at the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The timing is perfect to get a taste of Tin Barn Zinfandels, which include this RRV as well as a Napa Valley Zin. Tin Barn is one of 10 neighboring wineries joining together in a food and wine pairing open house this Saturday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Here you will find great wines, unique food pairings at each tasting room, and easy interaction with winemakers, family members and their dogs. See Simple Hedonism’s contest for a chance to win free tickets. Or, purchase tickets ($30) here.

To the Eye: Dense, cloudy rich garnet

On the Nose: Scent of the riverbed, gravel and menthol, almost like a RRV Pinot Noir. Lush, ripe stone fruit and savory herbs … like a full-figured dancer in a tight dress.

In The Mouth: Plums and dried cranberries emerge, puckering along the sides of the mouth and finishing on licorice and tobacco notes. Front of mouth softens as the wine is exposed to air in the glass. Back of mouth retains earthy, gutteral finish. Cries out for food.

Where to Buy: The 2008 is available from Tin Barn at $27. The 2007 might be found in small lots at some local retailers.

Food Pairing: Roasted meats with root vegetables and potatoes, adding some berries in the gravy to play off the fruit in the Zinfandel.  Think Pizza with sweet sausage and thick tomato sauce,BBQ’d Tri Tip or other grilled meat.

Recommendation: Plan a hearty meal around the opening of this wine. I let the bottle breathe for a couple hours before drinking, which allowed the aromas and flavors to open up nicely. Highly recommended for lovers of big wines and RRV nuanced aromas.

Pricing: $27 (media sample).

Wine Geek Info:

  • Varietal: 100% Zinfandel
  • Harvested: September 28th, 2007
  • Barrels: 35% New American Oak
  • Aging: 15 months
  • Bottled: January 27th, 2009
  • Alcohol: 15.5%
  • pH: 3.73
  • TA: 5.87g/L
  • Production: 579 cases
  • Release: November 2009

Tin Barn Vineyards

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