07 June 2013

2011 Wine Guerilla Zinfandel

This is my fourth look at the delicious Zinfandels made by Bruce Patch at Wine Guerrilla in Sonoma. This trio comes from the Single Vineyard Collection, focusing on well-established vineyards with properly balanced field blends.

There are a lot of ways to blend wines, and on top of that, most wines that are made on this planet are blended to some degree. If I'm looking at two California Cabernet Sauvignons, I'm more inclined to go with one that was balanced out with 25% Merlot and other grapes rather than a pure Cab Sav. Blends can be accomplished by combining grapes from different vineyards or juice from different pressings, or even mixing in some previous vintages. My favorite method requires the most skill: the field blend, in which complementary grapes are grown together in the same patch and harvested and pressed together. Each variety ripens and achieves perfection at a different rate, and with a field blend you have to be careful to pick at just the right time. The field blend can be adjusted over time (which is why the best are so old) to dial in the right balance. As such, field blends generally don't have precise percentages, but in the right hands the result is wonderful.

Trying these three wines together is a very instructional experience and one that is great to share with a group of friends. One winemaker, one region, one dominant grape, yet three very different wines.

2011 Wine Guerrilla Clopton Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
Field blend of Zinfandel, Alicante Bouschet and Golden Chasselas
$40, 14.5% abv.
120 cases made

Chasselas is a white grape that I've tried in Swiss wines, and was surprised to see in this mix, though the inclusion of Alicante Bouschet brings back the great old school California blends. This one starts off bold with a nose of deep blueberry, cassis, and a hint of spice. The bold fruit leads into a milder body but with a firm tannic finish.

2011 Wine Guerrilla Carreras Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel
Sonoma County
Proprietary field blend
$40, 14.5% abv.
275 cases made

This Zinfandel was milder with red cherry and tart raspberry characteristics, a little more delicate and with a softer finish. This one is on its way to being positively sublime in a few years once it fully mellows.

2011 Wine Guerrilla McClain Vineyard Zinfandel
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County
80% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah
$35, 14.5% abv.
275 cases made

This 120 year old vineyard yields the most complex of the three wines. Aromas of earth and plum with deep, dark fruit. As it develops in the glass hints of chocolate and cinnamon are present. The wine is still quite firm with the tannins, and has a long finish. Great with a steak now, though I will be curious to see how this one develops over time.

Note: These wines were provided as samples.


Greg said...

A few days after reading your Blog I happen come across a 2011 Guerrilla Zin at small wine shop near my house. It was not the old vine vintage but still a very good 2011 $20 Zin.
Thanks for putting the Guerrilla Zin on my Radar.

Greg W.

Ben Carter said...


Glad you enjoyed it, and keep an eye out for other bottles. They'll be good for a few years and are well worth seeking out.