Wine & Spirits 93 -Jon Locke and Alex Krause pull this wine from a 90-year-old own-rooted vineyard just outside the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. It’s a pleasure to taste over the course of a few days, starting out tart and crunchy, then filling out as dramatically as a spinnaker sail as it takes on air. Taut and generous at once, it’s refreshing and delicious. Best Buy
Planted by a bootlegger in 1922, and farmed continuously from father to son by the Besson family for the past ninety-two years. Fermented in stainless with native yeast, cellared in neutral barrels, bottled unfiltered. No fire-breathing necessary, but handy around barbeque pits.
As the Besson’s Zinfandel, tucked up right against the leeward side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, approaches its 100th vintage, in 2017 we got a break from the challenges of the drought years. Thanks to a long, wet winter, and with some Edward Scissorhanded canopy management, the zinfandel again escaped many of the challenges of prior vintages. Its unusually cool location, on decomposed granite and clay soils and moderated by nightly visitation of fog from Monterey Bay through the Hecker Pass Gap, allows for the possibility of making zinfandel that retains vivacity and freshness. While this cool site presents viticultural challenges given the variety’s infernally tight clusters, thin skin, and proclivity to bunch rot, botrytis, and uneven ripening, under the vigilant eye of the Besson family for the past 94 years, it proves worth the effort. In its purity and freshness and juvenile excitement, it is self-evidently California Zinfandel – bright, briary and sappy – though with a quality approaching restraint which we hope is a hallmark of our marque.