Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wine Wednesday: Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel

Posted By on September 21, 2011, 10:39 AM

In my opinion, when it comes to Zinfandel, nobody does it better than winemaker Will Bucklin. He is an oenological conjurer who makes other-worldly, small-production wines --- in a barn. He’s an Allman Brothers fan, but can also impressively recite The Mothers of Invention’s “Mud Shark” lyrics. A while back, Will discovered the pleasures of the iPod, which he tunes into when he’s driving his ancient tractor through the 24-acre Bucklin vineyard, where Grenache grows next to French Columbard that grows next to Grand Noir.

Bucklin’s Glen Ellen, Sonoma, Calif., vines date back to the Civil War; Bucklin Old Hill Ranch was established in 1852. These are some of the oldest grape vines planted in North America. And, the vineyard is dry-farmed (it gets water only from the sky), sustainable and certified organic. The fields are scattered with rosemary, lavender and eucalyptus. The latter, especially, subtly flavors the fruit and hence, the wine.

Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel 2007 ($25) offers up fruit that is ripe and lush; great wines are made in the vineyard, not in the laboratory. And the oak in this wine is merely a nuance, not the main attraction.

It amazes me that these superbly crafted wines don't fetch crazy collector prices in the hipster wine market. I suspect they will, eventually, when the crowd catches up to the quality of Bucklin wines. Until then, we have the great fortune of being able to actually buy Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel here in Zion for less than it sells for in Sonoma. Go figure.

And, go git some -- remembering, of course, to share.

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