2014 Martinelli "Jackass Hill Vineyard" Russian River Valley Zinfandel

SKU #1272787 96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The rare 2014 Zinfandel Jackass Hill Vineyard (63 cases) is, I believe, California’s most expensive Zinfandel, first produced in 1993. The vines are head-pruned and the slopes stupidly steep (hence the name Jackass, attributed to one of the older Martinellis who planted this vineyard over 100 years ago). The wine is firmer, has more tannin, and displays notes of forest floor, underbrush, blackberry, black raspberry and a touch of barbecued meats in a deep, full-throttle, balls-to-the-walls style. Drink it over the next 20 years. One of the great families of Northern California, and of course, one of the highest quality producers, the Martinellis - and rather remarkably so - only estate-bottle 15% of their production from over 300 acres of beautifully situated vineyards in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. No doubt Helen Turley, who worked at Martinelli and mentored its winemaking team, left a profound influence on the quality of the Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Syrahs and Zinfandels, a fact that can’t be overstated. The Chardonnays all go through full malolactic fermentation and tend to see about 50% new oak. The Pinot Noirs are always 100% destemmed and largely spend no longer than ten months in about 60% new French oak. (RP)  (3/2016)

95 points Vinous

 The one and only 2014 Zinfandel Jackass Hill emerges from a parcel Giuseppe Martinelli planted over 100 years ago on St. George rootstock. The vines lie on a 60% slope, which is simply unthinkable today. Succulent and deeply expressive, the Jackass Hill is laced with sweet red cherry, wild flowers, pomegranate, tobacco, licorice and mint. The 2014 is remarkably silky for such an intense wine. Readers who appreciate old-vine Zinfandel will find plenty to like. I always look forward to my tastings at Martinelli. The entire family gathers around a long rectangular table to show their latest releases. This year, the 2014 Pinots are the most impressive wines in the range. Martinelli fans will not want to miss the new Wild Thyme Pinot. The 2013 Chards are a bit subdued, both by Martinelli standards and within the context of the vintage. Perhaps I caught those wines at an awkward stage. The Syrahs are attractive, although in 2013 the flavor profile leans more towards the red end of the spectrum, which is unusual here. The Martinellis are probably best known for their Zinfandel. The new collection of current releases delivers the goods. As always, the Martinellis like to harvest ripe, which to them means that fruit has to begin to show some dimpling. The wines are rich, powerful, and, at their best, deeply satisfying. (AG)  (1/2016)

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Price: $149.99

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- The bid to name Zinfandel California's "State Varietal" may have failed, but this red wine grape, grown extensively in California since the mid-1800s, is grown in few other places in the world. Sadly, much of what's cultivated today is planted where it's too hot and flat. But when planted to well-drained, hillside vineyards that are warm but not too hot, like those in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley and Amador County in the Sierra Foothills, Zinfandel can produce wines with plenty of character. High in natural alcohol and tannin, grown carefully it can be rich and complex, with dark fruit berry fruit and peppery spice. The most known example of Zinfandel outside of California is Italy's Primitivo, which can be similar in style, but is often a bit lighter and less alcoholic than West Coast examples.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Alexander Valley/Russian River

- Among Sonoma County's northernmost appellations, the Alexander Valley AVA acts as a gateway to neighboring Napa to the east and Mendocino to the north. It is a sprawling appellation, with pockets of distinct microclimates and soils, and as such, is home to a variety of wine grapes and styles. Nearly everything grows in the Alexander Valley, though Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most widely planted grapes. The Russian River Valley lies to the south of Alexander Valley, and is marked by much cooler temperatures and frequently heavy fog. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown here are some of the state's finest and most sought-after. Aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Riesling can also be successful, and sparkling wine production has a long history in the area.