I like prime numbers. A prime number is unbreakable — only divisible by itself and 1. Some may say they don’t play well with others; I say they’re strong enough to stand on their own. I find I have some kind of spiritual connection to prime numbers. We’re weird, we don’t fit into conventional puzzle pieces, a lot of people don’t “get” us, and even more people don’t even know what or who we are. We hide in plain sight and are the answer to “can you tell me which thing is not like the other?”

…I also find that meaningful things happen to me when I am a prime number age…

In 2011 — a prime year — the Russian River Valley experienced unconventional climatic conditions that, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t have worked. But it did — not for everyone, but for some vintners. And when I tasted the Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel the first time I visited the boys in their warehouse winery, this was the wine I felt a deep, undeniably emotional connection to.

I don’t often have that emotional or spiritual response to wine. It’s a feeling reserved for just some of the best — wines, wine experiences or a combination thereof. I tried to put a list together of the wines that have so profoundly moved me. It was a short list indeed.

When I first tasted the Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel, it was more than just an journey of flavors on my palate. This wine penetrated my imagination: I could picture when and where I’d most enjoy this wine; knew exactly what food I’d be eating; felt the touch of my partner as we sipped.

I also knew that, as age-able as the wine presented, it’s life expectancy wouldn’t be that long. And it’s as if I knew, walking into this year that this year — this prime year as I enjoy my prime year — this year was the year to celebrate what was inside that bottle.

About the Wine: As I mentioned before, 2011 was not an ideal year for the Russian River Valley. In fact, most of Northern California was victim to excessive rain and flooding. And while some precipitation is always appreciated (especially in our modern drought-like situation), too much rain can literally over-hydrate wine grapes, resulting in flat and flabby wines. And, for tightly clustered grapes like Zinfandel, the potential for rot and mildew vastly increases.

The other thing you should know about Crux is that they are not necessarily Zinfandel producers. Proud participants of the Rhone Ranger movement, their focus is on, well, Rhone grapes and Rhone wines: Viognier, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and the almost obligatory blend GSM. And so it is that two, sort of, anomalies came together — poor weather conditions and two lone Rhone Rangers — to craft a Zinfandel of elegant rusticity that is, in 2017, truly in the “prime” of life.

14.9% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork of this gothic wine and breathe in wet mud, dark forest floor, fig and plum compote, and the perfume of cigar. On the pour, the Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel is rusty, old, a seasoned rouge-red and yet maintains a clarity and youthful elegance. In the glass, the wine shows just a wrinkle of time around the perimeter in the dark brown ring that encircles the rouge.

Initial aromas are rich with dark fruits: fig, blueberries, plums — all macerated together into the thickest jam. A deeper breath reveals a bit of cologne and cedar chips. Swirl, and the Zinfandel opens up, reversing the age of time on those berries: no longer are they a jam or compote, but they are full, plump, intact with skins. Unlike the flowers. The flowers have fallen on to that damp forest floor, have turned to mulch, have now become part of the ground once more. Swirl again, deep breath in, and find a solid use of acid, a silky milk chocolate background, nutmeg dust, and that essence of cigar.

On the palate, the Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel is soft, plush, fresh with fruits and a solid line of acidity that cuts right through. Dominant flavors are of plum, blackberry, marionberry, soft fertile dirt, unsweetened cocoa dust, and nutmeg. The finish is a solid one, with a gentle blanket of tannins that just lightly coats the entirety of the mouth — simultaneously calming, yet invigorating, inviting another sip.

Food Pairing: I paired the Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel with a seared salmon and my Mediterranean quinoa salad — my birthday dinner this year. The acidity of the tomatoes scattered throughout the dish brought out even more juicy-fruits in the wine, this time reminiscent of purple grapes. Meanwhile the salmon, with its meaty-oily texture brought out the darker, earthier flavors and textures in the wine as well as highlighted the acidic line.

The perfect pairing? I certainly did enjoy it and — if given the opportunity to drink this wine again — I would pair this meal again. Anything heartier than a salmon would overpower the delicate nuances in this wine; anything leaner or lighter would fade into the background. Quinoa with its nutty, but subtle taste and texture is the perfect grain accompaniment, while the bursts of feta and petite-diced onion give the meal a bit of pop without, again, compromising the wine.

More Info: I received the Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel as a gift. (Cheers Steve and Brian!) The Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel is now a library wine, and not for market sale. To find out more about Crux Winery, their available wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Crux Winery website.

BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!

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