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Wine of the week: Novy Family Winery, 2013 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Zinfandel

This tasty zinfandel has a great concentration of fruit, with layered herbs and cracked black pepper in the mix.|

Adam Lee loves walking through the vineyards to cultivate his cherished crop - the grape.

The winemaker is behind our wine-of-the-week winner, the Novy Family Winery, 2013 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Zinfandel at $23.

This tasty zinfandel has a great concentration of fruit, with layered herbs and cracked black pepper in the mix. What makes this zin a standout is its bright fruit coupled with crisp acid. Many wines don’t achieve this balance, particularly decadent zinfandels. The Novy is generous, yet shows restraint.

“I love walking through the vineyards during the entire growing season, not just at harvest,” Lee explained. “It helps me learn from them and decide what kind of wine to make. It also gives me a respect for the grapes that come off of those vines... You have to treat them with respect and make winemaking decisions that allow them to create the finest possible wine.”

Lee said one of the perks from selling Santa Rosa’s Siduri Wines and Novy Family Wines to Jackson Family Wines is bottling old vine zinfandel. Lee and wife Dianna sold the brands in January, with Lee retained as winemaker of both.

“I’m able to source fruit from a vineyard this year called Jensen Lane, which was planted in 1915,” Lee said. “Having 100-year old zinfandel to work with is really exciting for me.”

As for the winning wine, Lee said it had a great vintage in its favor.

“The 2013 was one of the finest zinfandel years in quite some time,” he said.

The house style of the zinfandel continues to be one that rides on crisp acid, Lee explained.

“I select Russian River Valley zinfandel because I like the acid in it,” Lee said. “People don’t normally think of the Russian River Valley as a place for zinfandel. They think it’s pinot and chardonnay land, but zinfandel retains pretty good acidity and that is particularly true in the Russian River Valley.”

Lee said crafting zins with bright acid keeps them lively and fresh.

“The most gratifying part is creating something that is both classy and classic and yet approachable and fun to drink,” Lee said. “I often categorize wines as one or the other but zinfandel transcends both.”

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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