Zinfandel was one of the first grapes planted in California when folks migrated to California during the Gold Rush era. And while there’s no real legal definition for the term “old vine,” vintners take great pride when their vineyard source can boast true roots to those first plantings. Pedroncelli’s estate vineyards have been planted to Zinfandel since 1904. Today the vineyard blocks contain a second generation vineyard cloned from the original “Mother” vines, which were replanted in the 1980s. The Pedroncelli ‘Mother Clone Zinfandel’ is so named because a small portion of fruit from the remaining over 100-plus-year-old vines is harvested and blended into this exquisite old-soul of a wine.

About the Wine: The Pedroncelli 2015 Mother Clone Zinfandel is made from 88% Zinfandel grapes and 12% Petite Sirah grapes harvested from Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley AVA. As mentioned, a portion of the grapes come from the estate vineyard, including the original ‘Mother Clone’ fruit. Pedroncelli also sources their Zinfandel from three other estates: Home Ranch, Bushnell, and Buchigani Vineyard.

After harvest, crushed grapes go to a fermentation tank to cold soak for 24-48 hours where they are inoculated with selected yeast. The grapes then ferment until dryness (about 10 days), after which they are are pressed and transferred to storage tanks until barreled. The wine aged in 100% American oak barrels for 12 months. The final Zinfandel wine is then blended with the Petite Sirah before bottling.

14.9% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork of the Pedroncelli 2015 Mother Clone Zinfandel and breathe in Dark Magic — it’s a mix of savory and sweet; jammy and umami. On the pour this Zinfandel is a luminescent prune-red, settling into the glass with impenetrable darkness at it’s very core.

Initial aromas are black: black plums, black cherries, black berries, black figs — all fully plump and hanging off their branches in the cool dampness of the witching hour. Swirl and enliven those fruits with some fresh spring water, muddy soils, and hints of grassy herbs. Take an even deeper breath in and find a faded background scent of chocolate.

The palate of the Pedroncelli 2015 Mother Clone Zinfandel is full and oval-shaped, as it starts out completely smooth but engages steep climbing acidity and a gradually increase in tannins, with a finish that’s almost meaty — both in taste and texture. Dominant flavors are of black cherry, blueberry, matchstick flint, and — on the finish — a read meat-like irony juice. Lingering on the palate is a bit of black pepper heat (without the actual flavor of black pepper) and as this, and all other flavors, seem to melt away, you’re left with just a bit of medicine-like numbness around the tongue and lips (again, purely sensation without any kind of medicinal flavors).

Food Pairing: I paired the Pedroncelli 2015 Mother Clone Zinfandel with a broccoli and mushroom pizza. What I loved was the wood-fired bread brought out a bit of cedar smokiness in the wine, as well as a bit of chocolate notes. Meanwhile the broccoli, which was cooked to complete softness, as well as the gooey cheese, brought out a softness in the wine while giving the fruit elements a more jammy quality.

Perfect pairing? Why not?

More Info: I received the Pedroncelli 2015 Mother Clone Zinfandel as a sample in conjunction with #WiningHourChat. (Cheers Li!) Retail: $19. For more information about Pedroncelli, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Pedroncelli Wines website.

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