2011 Storybook Mountain "Eastern Exposures" Napa Valley Zinfandel
Wine & Spirits
Jerry Seps selects this Zinfandel to emphasize the coolness of the morning sun on his vineyard at the Napa Valley's northwestern edge, where his vines face the Palisades and Mount St. Helena. It's a red-fruited portrait of the Napa hills, fragrant and floral, luscious and structured. The color is transparent even as the wine is bold and enveloping, eliciting what has come to be my blind tasting marker for the best Storybook Zins, virtually the only time my notes contain the word "yummy." There's nothing raisined about it, just a purity to the wine in its flavor, structure and refinement.
If marked by a bit of vintage reluctance and not as expansive or deep as the winery's best efforts, this is still a very well-focused Zin with a lively message of bright-berry fruit and Storybook Mountain's typical polish and balance. It is one , we suspect that will reach its peak sooner than later, and, while experience has shown that its cellarmates from great years can grow for a decade and more, it will be make delectable drinking over the next half-decade or so.
Storybook Mountain Vineyards was established on the site of the old Grimm Brothers winery, which had been growing Zinfandel since the 1880s, but was destroyed by a fire in 1970s and abandoned. Jerry Seps bought the property in 1976, renamed it Storybook (it really is a "storybook" setting, with rolling hills, intermittent forest, and mountain terrain) and the rest is history. The soil type and microclimates vary dramatically at Storybook; grapes coming from different vineyard sites are subjected not only to different soils, but also various degrees of temperature and sunlight, making Storybook the source for some of Napa Valley's most compelling, distinctive, and ageworthy Zinfandels. Eastern Exposures is a barrel selection from the east-facing vineyards of Storybook's organically farmed mountaintop vineyards. The bottling emphasizes an elegant and aromatic profile with a layered mid-palate and a spiced, minerally finish. From the winemaker: "Scintillating contrasts identify this wine - soft yet balanced, fruity and savory at the same time, delicate yet intense. Aromatics of white and black cherries, orange essence, umami overtones and the slightest hint of oak, a layered palate with a touch of stone fruit to go with the cherries, balance and a long finish are all part of this 2011. It is a wine at once svelte, sensual, elegant and lingering."