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2004 Martinelli "Jackass Hill" Russian River Valley Zinfandel

SKU #1048399 96 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Less fruity and open on the nose than the Jackass Vineyard but conveys an impression of brooding power. Distinctly more backward in the mouth, initially dominated by resiny and saline elements. With aeration, this tight wine showed explosive, urgent raspberry fruit lifted by black pepper, and became increasingly peppery and bright. Really stains the finish with fruit. This trio of Zinfandels struck me as the most successful and powerfully fruit-driven that Helen Turley has made to date for the Martinelli family. (ST)  (5/2006)

95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Martinelli’s Zinfandel is a rich, high-octane wine of considerable intensity, fragrance, and richness. The 2004 Zinfandel Jackass Hill (125 cases) boasts amazing elegance, revealing fine balance along with notes of plum liqueur, roasted meats, spice box, and sweet Provencal herbs interwoven with sassafras, licorice and espresso. A dense ruby/purple color, soaring aromatics, flamboyant flavors, and a monster palate with no hard edges always make this one of the world’s most distinctive Zinfandels. Its 17+% alcohol is reasonably well-concealed by layers of concentration. This blockbuster should drink well for 10-15 years. (RP)  (6/2006)

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Price: $89.99
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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.


- 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.
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.