Wine of the Week; 2007 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2007 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel.

The Winery

Bradford Mountain Winery is located in Healdsburg, CA. The label was started by George Hambrecht just out of college, in the late ’90s. The first crush was in October 1998, and produced about 1,800 cases of wine.

According to Bradford…

Over the years, our fruit has been purchased by such luminaries as Turley, Gary Farrell, Quivira, and Alysian, as well as other well-known producers.

I was referred to Bradford Mountain a few years ago by a friend who works in the wine business.  He was kind enough to set up a private tasting for my wife and I.  When we arrived at the address, we noted that it was (at the time) C. Donatiello winery. Today, it is  VML winery. Since Bradford Mountain, and VML share an address, I believe that’s where you can purchase the Bradford Mountain wines (by the way VML is a great spot for tasting – they focus on Pinot, and Chardonnay).

It was a bit of an unusual tasting in that we were ushered to the back of the winery to do the tasting.  I vividly recall the tasting because it was a hot day, and there were fruit flies everywhere!  Setting aside the fruit flies and the heat it was a great tasting. We picked up a few bottles of this wine and their Grist Vineyard Syrah.

The Wine

This wine is a combination of fruit from Grist Vineyard, which located on Bradford Mountain –  the highest point on Dry Creek Valley’s western edge (click here for video profile), and vineyard on the Dry Creek valley floor.  The Grist Vineyard is located on a hilltop plateau 1100 feet above the valley floor, and was planted to Zinfandel nearly 100 years ago.  The fruit for this wine is from vines are between 10 and about 40 years old.

The vineyard soil is rugged red decomposing volcanic rock, and I believe that results in the distinctive mineral component of this wine.

2007 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel

2007 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel

My tasting notes follow:

Garnet color with dark fruit, licorice, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied and fresh with a silky texture I don’t recall ever experiencing at this point, good balance, and soft well-integrated tannins. It shows flavors of mixed berry, hints of cassis, spice, dark chocolate and mineral flavors with a medium-long finish – 91pts

Rating: Highly Recommended.  This wine drinks like many a $35-$45 Zins I’ve had. Off the chart QPR! It’s aged well, I last had a bottle about a year ago

Pair with:  Seared Ahi Tuna, Ciopppino, BBQ Spareribs, Burgers or Rack of Lamb!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 14.2
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA: > CaliforniaSonoma CountyDry Creek Valley
  • Grape Varieties: 100% Zinfandel
  • Cooperage: 14 months in French, Hungarian, and American oak barrels; 40% new oak
  • Retail: $18
  • Cases produced: Unknown
  • Drink: now – 2014

This above wine was purchased for review


In a Wine Rut? Try these wines!

Admit it. You know there is a whole wide world of wine out there, but you still cling to a handful of favorites. Right?! I know it’s comfy, but you can do better! It’s time get out of your Cab, Chardonnay, Pinot wine rut, and discover some new favorites! With that spirit of adventure in mind, here’s a list of rut-busting wines to try. I’ll profile the grape from which the wine is made, and offer a recommendation of a fine example of each. There’s something for everyone with six white wine, and six red wines!

Cabernet Sauvignon grape cluster, shown by DNA...

Cabernet Sauvignon grape cluster, shown by DNA studies to be a cross of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

White Wines

1. Marsanne

This is probably the finest grape variety you’ve never heard of. It makes a full-bodied, sometimes rustic wine with amazing complexity, and honey, peach, and sweet spice flavors. If you like Chardonnay, give this wine a try. It’s fabulous with cracked crab and other shellfish. Look for JC Cellars Stagecoach Vineyard Marsanne.

2. Viognier

I consider this grape to be a primary rival to Chardonnay. It produces a juicy, aromatic wine with exotic stone fruit , and spice flavors. If you like Gewürztraminer, give Viognier a try. I’ve enjoyed this wine with various Asian cuisines. Look for Yalumba Viognier Eden Valley.

3. Albariño

This grape, which is native to Spain, produces a juicy fragrant wine that reminds me of a cross between Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. It has that Viognier’s peachy flavors, along with fresh citrus flavors found in Sauvignon Blanc. It’s great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. Pair with seafood, Asian fare, or tapas! I like the Martin Codax Albariño Rias Baixas Burgens.

4. Assyrtiko

This grape is native to Greece, where it is the specialty of the volcanic island of Santorini. Its lively acidity makes it a food friendly wine with citrus, pineapple, and mineral flavors. It would make a great alternative to dry French or Italian wine such as Pinot Grigio. It’s a natural match for a Feta Salad. Look for Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko.

5. Torrontés

This grape, which is Argentina’s only truly indigenous grape, produces a juicy fragrant wine with citrus pineapple and spice flavors. It is Argentina’s signature white variety. It’s a pretty food friendly wine that would be a great wine to bring along on a summer picnic. It pairs wonderfully with seafood, or try it with a pasta primavera or spicy Asian noodle, or curry dishes. Look for the Bodegas Colome Torrontés Estate.

6. Vermentino

This grape makes an increasingly popular juicy aromatic wine with citrus, stone fruit, and tropical fruit flavors. If you enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, and/or Pinot Grigio this one may change your mind! It pairs wonderfully with pesto, a specialty in Liguria, Italy. It would also be a good match with seafood, or Tuscan cuisine.  I recommend the Tablas Creek Vermentino.

Red Wines

7. Pinotage

This grape, which is the signature red variety of South Africa, was created in 1925 at Stellenbosch University. It a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, two French grapes, that thrive in South Africa. It shows the soft fruitiness of Pinot Noir, and the rustic characteristics of Cinsault. It produces a fruity, lively wine with soft tannins, and black fruit, spicy and many tasters report, banana flavors. While it’s home is South Africa it is also making inroads in New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Zimbabwe, California, North Carolina, and Virginia. This would make a nice change of pace if you enjoy Pinot Noir. Pair with game, ratatouille or hearty soups. Look for the Tukulu Pinotage.

8. Petite Sirah

This grape, which is also known as Durif, is considered an American Heritage grape. It produces a rich dense wine with blackberry flavors. If you like Zinfandel, give this wine a try. It’s a very good food wine. I’ve enjoyed with a wide variety of foods, but it great with steak, roasts, and grilled meats. Look for Ridge Petite Sirah Lytton Estate.

9. Mourvèdre (More-VEHD-ruh)

This grape originated in Spain where it is referred to as Mataro,or Monastrell. It makes rich dense red wines that are powerful, and tannic with earthy, savory black fruit and sweet spice flavors. It’s a good match for stews, roasts, and grilled meats. Look for the Quivira Mourvèdre.

10. Tannat

This is a grape, which is native to France, but now a specialty of Uruguay that produces makes robust; yet elegant wines with high levels of tannins, great aging potential, and dark berry, plum, and spice flavors. If you’re a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, give Tannat a try. Owing to its high acidity it’s a bit more versatile than Cab. It would pair nicely with grilled meats. Look for the newly released Tablas Creek Tannat.

11. Teroldego (tah-RAWL-de-go)

This grape is native to Italy, but is also grown in California where does well in the Sierra Foothills region. It produces a ripe smooth wine that is dark and savory with dark berry, plum, and spice flavors. Its high acidity makes it food friendly. Try this with roast duck, Indian Cuisine, or your favorite red wine cheese. Look for the Urban Legend Teroldego.

12. Aglianico

This grape, which is native to Italy makes the great full-bodied, intense, tannic wine with berry, cherries, plums and spice flavors. Its high acidity makes it food friendly. Pair with hearty meats, tomato-based pasta dishes like lasagna, or lamb. Look for the Seghesio Family Aglianico.

With over 10,000 grape varieties, this list is by no means complete. There are a host of other possibilities from around the world from countries, like Hungary, Austria, and Croatia to name a few! Not sure where to start? Cozy up to your local wine shop clerk, ask your wino friends (yours truly included), or do a little research online at sites like, or Wine Your effort will not be in vain. You’ll be rewarded with new, and exciting wine that’ll get you out of your wine rut!

This article was previously featured on 12 Most and is republished, by the author. 

Sonoma in the City Recap…

Last week, I attended an amazing event called Sonoma in the City (“SITC”) hosted by the Sonoma County Vintners Association (“SCV”), and Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, for the benefit Share Our Strength.   I’m a huge fan of Sonoma County, and SITC is the largest tasting of Sonoma County wines outside of the county.  It was a superbly organized event with comprehensive representation of the 12 appellations within Sonoma.

The event was held at the Westin St. Francis Hotel.  Inside the Grand Ballroom of the hotel, the wineries were grouped by major appellations (Dry Creek, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley,etc.) which was nice because the appellations tend to dominated by certain varieties of grapes which are better suited for particular locations.  Looking for Pinot and Chard? Head over to the Russian River Valley area of the ballroom.  If you’re a fan of Cabs and Zin, then stroll on over to the Dry Creek area.  But, before you even entered the Grand Ballroom, in the foyer, there was a themed tasting area where you could explore the influence the diverse terroir of Sonoma on different styles of wine.  For example, there was a table for “Powerful Pinot” that showcased the difference between Pinot from a warm weather site, compared to a cool weather site. My favorite “theme” though was one that featured one vineyard, the Dutton-Ranch Manzana Vineyard.  It was interesting for me to see how the same grapes, from the same vineyard, and same vintage taste so different when made into wine by  different wine makers.   It was a chance to experience, at some level, how a winemaker’s choices manifest themselves in the taste and texture of a wine.

I had mixed feelings about the event.  On one hand, I was excited about attending the event because it was a chance to taste wines I’ve always wanted to taste, and to try some wines from producers unfamiliar to me.  On the other hand,  SITC is an enormous event, by my count 123 wineries, and probably 400 wines to available for tasting. In 3 hours!  So the sheer scale of the event created some anxiety for me because I was trying to figure out how I was going to maximize the opportunity.  I decided to spend an hour sampling whites, and the rest of the time with reds.  I also decided to minimize sampling wine from producers I’ve previously enjoyed (Dashe Cellars, Everett Ridge/Esterlina, Freestone, Hanna, Quivira, Sausal, and Seghesio).  Still, I ended up sampling about 100 wines from 47 different producers!

Favorites I heartily recommend follow (which includes links to the wines on Cellar Tracker where you may get details about  the wines such as ratings, tasting notes, and cost, etc.):

A sample of great food served...unfortunately I was too busy tasting to try!



2008  Fort Ross Fort Ross Vineyard

2009 Landmark Chardonnay Damaris Reserve

2008 Robert Young Alexander Valley Chardonnay

2009 Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay

2009 Roessler Big Bend Chardonnay

Sauvignon Blanc

2010 Kunde Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Magnolia Lane 

2010 Roth Sauvignon Blanc

Other Whites

2010 Joseph Swan Gewürztraminer Saralee’s Vineyard

A packed Grand Ballroom at the Westin St. Francis


Pinot Noir

2007 Ceja Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

2009 Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir Fox Den

2007 Fort Ross Pinot Noir, Fort Ross Vineyard

2007 Fort Ross Symposium Pinot Noir

2008 Kosta Browne Winery Pinot Noir, Gap’s Crown

2009 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

2009 Siduri Pinot Noir Ewald Vineyard

2009 Siduri Pinot Noir Van der Kamp Vineyard

Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander’s Crown Vineyard

1992 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley (from magnum)

2007 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

2007 Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon, Christopher’s Alexander Mountain Estate


2008 Dashe Old Vine Zinfandel Todd Brothers Ranch 


NV. J Brut Rose

My wine-stained tasting journal...


SITC, though a bit overwhelming for me, was the best wine event I’ve been to so far, especially when I consider the breadth, depth, and quality of wines offered!  I always enjoy discovering new (at least to me) producers – in this case, Fort Ross, Kunde, Landmark, and Stonestreet are now on my radar screen.  Likewise, when it comes to Kosta Browne, and Siduri Pinots, it exciting to know I can “believe the hype” !

Still, I know I missed other amazing wines…Oh well there’s always next year!!