Scott Harvey Zinfandel – Amador County

Scott Harvey Zinfandel Vertical
Scott Harvey Zinfandel Vertical

On Monday, October 22, 2018, my Monday night Somm Study Group did a Vertical tasting on 2007, 2008 & 2009 Scott Harvey Old Vine Reserve. I have been a big fan of Scott’s wines for a long time, particularly the 1869. When I did my Zinfandel Tasting a few months ago, the 1869 beat out Grgich, Ridge, and Seghesio. We used a 2006 and 2008 which Jana pulled out of the Library for my tasting.

I thought it would be interesting to see how the wines hold up over time. All of the wines were decanted for 30 minutes prior to tasting and each was tasted again at 60 minutes and 90 minutes.

The first was the 2007. California’s 2007 wine grape harvest began early, stalled mid-way due to cool weather, and finished in late October to vintner accolades. A mild winter with below normal rainfall, coupled with a dry spring, led to early bud break. Although cluster counts were high in most locations, a sparse berry set in spring resulted in loose grape bunches. Additionally, berries were small, creating a greater skin to juice ratio, enhancing quality. The Zinfandel varietal received high 90+ scores and the year, in general, is considered “Classic.”

2007 Old Vine Reserve

Blend 99% Zinfandel 1% Mixed Port
Alcohol: 14.5%
Cooperage: 24 months French Oak
Release Date: May 2011
Cases Produced: 304 @ 12/750ml

Tasting Notes:

Zin Vertical Tasting
Zin Vertical Tasting

This wine was truly spectacular! The initial tasting gave aromas of oak, cedar, cinnamon, vanilla some spice and dark berries. On the palate, dark cherry mushrooms, plums a slight spiciness and smooth long finish. At the 60 minute taste it opened up with a bit of iodine on the nose, and jammy and earthiness were very slight. On the palate, it clearly softened with stronger plum and cherry. Hints of raspberry and cinnamon lingered on the finish. At the 90 minute tasting all the aromas and flavors were enhanced and the wine was well balanced and complex. A nice soft and lingering wine. It was everything we expected of the vintage. If you can get this wine, buy it!

Next, we tasted the 2008. This growing year saw it all – early frost, low rainfall, high heat, and lower yields. Then add the fires…

The 2007-2008 rainfall was 50 percent of normal and since several vineyards are dry farmed that presented a problem. About half of the growers in Amador were able to irrigate so they were OK. Because of the light crop on the dry-farmed vines, the leaf and cane growth was near normal and the fruit ripened early. Amador County was not affected by the fires. Wine Ratings were in the high 80’s with some exceptions.

2008 Old Vine Reserve

Blend 100% Zinfandel
Alcohol: 14.5%
Cooperage: 18 months French Oak
Bottling Date:7/13/2010
Cases Produced: 208 @ 12/750ml

Tasting Notes:

The initial nose brought out red fruits, mushrooms, vanilla, and slight chocolate on the nose. The palate was slightly bitter with overripe red berries and fig as the pronounced flavors. Hints of cough syrup prevailed with a short very tart finish. The consensus was it did not feel well balanced. At 60 minutes more of the tart cherries came through while the other flavors diminished. It was still a very tart short finish. After 90 minutes there was only a slight change in the overall wine as it became less flavorful. It may be a case where the wine was past its prime or was just average at its start.

2009 Old Vine Reserve

Blend 94% Zinfandel 6% Syrah
Alcohol: 14.5%
Cooperage: 19 months French Oak
Bottling Date: July 22, 2011
Release Date: January 2012
Cases Produced: 636 @ 12/750ml

The palate was loaded with red berries, spice, liquorice, and coffee, all well balanced with a long smooth finish.

Last we tasted the 2009. Considered a “1 in 10” year, everything went right. Abundant spring rains abated winter drought concerns, and a relatively temperate growing season throughout most of the state produced excellent fruit quality. A mid-October rain caused some concern for those who still had Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot on the vines, but for the most part, the tough-skinned, loose-clustered varietals weathered the storm. Beautiful Indian Summer weather followed the rainy, humid conditions, allowing the grapes to reach optimum maturity. It was a truly Classic year with wines ranking in the high 90’s.

Vineyard/Vintage Notes:

Dick Taking the Featured Photo!
Dick Taking the Featured Photo!

66% DeMille/Norton Vineyard grapes from “84-Year-Old Vines,” 28% Vineyard 1869, “141-Year-Old Vines,” America’s oldest documented Zinfandel Vineyard. The 2009 vintage ripened in early October, letting the grapes mature without over-ripening. This allowed for full flavor maturity, without extreme alcohol levels. The Norton Vineyard, as well as Vineyard 1869, produced small bunches of high extraction. These old vine vineyards were planted in the days when horses were still used for cultivation. These are non-irrigated, stand-alone head pruned vines that express the Amador Zinfandel terroir.

Tasting Notes:

This was a powerful and complex wine from the start! On the nose; raspberries, spice, butterscotch, chocolate with a hint of earthiness. The palate was loaded with red berries, spice, liquorice, and coffee, all well balanced with a long smooth finish. On the second and third tasting this wine opened up and became more complex with smoothness on the palate. What a wine! Even with its depth, this was a wine you could drink without food. Everyone wanted to buy this one. It will continue to age gracefully. I am sure it had to do with the 1869 grapes.

Next – The Scott Harvey Story


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