PNJ.com Keith Massey FEBRUARY 9, 2011
Julie Johnson and her husband, Jon Enkelskirger, have made a niche for themselves in Cabernet Sauvignion country by making top-notch Zinfandels.
The area in and around Rutherford in Napa, Calif., is known primarily for its award winning Cabernets and Sauvignon Blanc. The wine “illuminati” mention the “Rutherford dust” in hushed voices to describe the well-defined but soft tannins that are the earmark of top notch Napa Cabernets.
With her Zinfandels, especially the 2007 vintage, Johnson has found a great balance between power and restraint. The 2007 vintage in Napa was fairly dry in the spring, leading to small leaf canopies, which certainly helps with the quality of levels of the prolific but uneven ripening Zinfandel varietal. One thing always leads to another, and in this case it is quality. The lack of leaves on the vines led to much smaller berries and cluster size in 2007, which gave the wines good extraction of flavor without the usual high sugar levels. These conditions made for really powerful wines without the normal alcohol and tannins you would expect.
The Tres Sabores Zinfandel shows little heat from the alcohol or tannins. It is well defined and evokes thoughts of a well ripened Chateauneuf du Pape from France’s Rhone Valley. Johnson has continued to deliver stylish and somewhat age worthy zinfandels from her Napa estate.
My first taste evoked flavors of the orange pekoe tea leaf, allspice and briary, brambly fruits. Those of you who in the past have found Zinfandel to be heavy handed, with very primary flavors, will find all the complexity you can ask for in this well-bred red.
These flavors and the quality do not come on the cheap, but are more than worth the $30 or so we will be asking for this new vintage in the Seville Quarter Wine Shop.
Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St. 434-6211, or visit www.sevillequarter.com.