120-Year-Old Vines and a Great American Zinfandel
Zin master Matt Cline has a penchant for preserving the oldest, most significant Zinfandel vineyards in America. When translated to bottle, these historic sites, yield dramatic offerings, loaded with class and lush, dark-berry fruit. The 92-point “Mazzoni” Live Oak Zinfandel is case in point. Sourced from 120-year-old vines in Contra Costa, the 2014 “Mazzoni” is one of the most spectacularly concentrated, ethereally complex Zins we’ve tasted. Wine Enthusiast called it “decadently rich,” with a “velvety texture.” We call it American history.
It’s easy to take Matt’s extravagant black-fruit reds simply for what they are — America’s best answer to the bargains of the southern Rhône. But even if you made the trip down to Oakley just to see these improbable ancient-vine plantings, you could fail to understand the history behind them — and the significance of what is in the glass. There are no signs or plaques to commemorate the hard work of the Portuguese and Italian immigrants who carved 6-inch budwood into Delhi sand on cold winter mornings in the late 19th century.
Matt Cline called Live Oak Vineyard, “the crowning achievement of ancient-vine Zinfandel in America.” The veteran vines never eke out more than a few tiny-berry clusters per shoot — rarely more than 1.5 tons to the acre. In 2014, the fourth consecutive drought year in California, Live Oak shined like the bright California sun. The resulting 2014 “Mazzoni-Live Oak” — named for the family that planted the vineyard in 1885 — strutts the kind of deep-rooted concentration and complexity that only ancient vines can produce. Silken and lush, this over-delivers on its humble price tag by miles.