We interrupt your regularly-scheduled wine blog for this announcement: It’s guest blogger time again here at Griffy on Wine! So kick back, relax, and pour yourself a glass as Cruzgriffy on Wine takes over for a spell.
My dad is obviously far more technologically advanced in his wine adventuring, and unfortunately I do not have a canary yellow Fiat 500 equipped with a state-of-the-art Winedar. What I do have is a red 2004 Anniversary Edition Ford Mustang and friends like Alex and Danae who spoil me with fantastic California wines. Today’s wine is Saldo, a 2012 Zinfandel from Orin Swift.
Wine aficionados are no stranger to Swift’s work, and you may recall a Griffy on Wine review of his much-renowned blend, The Prisoner. For lovers of Zinfandels (it is definitely an inherited trait in this family) Saldo is a blend of Zinfandel grapes from all across California’s many vineyards, Syrah, and Petite Sirah. The name “Saldo” is Latin, and translates roughly to “from here and there;” a clear tribute to their grape selection process.
More specifically, the grapes that go into Saldo hail from five acclaimed vineyards in California’s wine growing region.
Mattern vineyard is located on the Talmage Bench of Mendocino County. Owned by John Mattern, the vines at this site were first planted in the 1930’s, and the region’s hot climate has helped produce some of the best Zinfandel crops ever harvested. Next we travel to the Sutter Creek region at the foothills of the Sierra Mountains to the Aparcio vineyard. Owner Joe Aparicio planted the vines back in 1980-81, and employs a “Gobelet” style where no wires or other support methods are used. Between the old-world pruning style and rich, volcanic soil, Aparcio’s Zinfandel grapes are of the highest quality.
We then head West towards the Pacific to Dry Creek and two more suppliers for Saldo’s epic blend: Grist vineyard and Taylor vineyard. Grist is owned by the Hambrecht family, and the grapes benefit from cool breezes coming off the ocean to help moderate the otherwise staunch mid-summer heat. Over at Taylor vineyards, owners Patrick and Eivor go to meticulous detail in designing the layout of their vines. The vine work features different row directions, varying ages of vines, and a diversity of sunlight angles. As a result of this unique approach, the grapes are prime candidates for blending, as they offer a variety of flavors within the same crop.
The final stop on our Saldo blending is Pato vineyard in the Oakley region. Featuring some of the oldest vines laid in the state, the Christian Brothers legacy has survived since the 1870’s thanks to the care and dedication of the Pato family. The secret to the success of this vineyard is in the ground, or rather, what isn’t in the ground: gravel. More similar to beach sand in its texture and composition, the soil at Pato helps promote water drainage, which has led to the exceptional life cycle of the vines. It also produces a spicy Zinfandel with strong dark fruit notes.
With their powers combined, we have Orin’s Saldo, a veritable supergroup of Zinfandel. My 2012 bottle was a gift from Alex and Danae at our annual Fashionably Late New Years party. Dana and I decided to pop it open on March 6th to celebrate our new car and National Smoke a Cigar day. Paired with some fine cheese, bread, balsamic dipping oil, and a Padron 4000 Maduro, we let the aroma of black fruit waft from the bottle and poured ourselves each a glass.
Considering the alcohol content (15.5%) I was expecting a full frontal assault of a wine, yet what hit my palate was the softest Zinfandel I’ve ever tasted. Unlike many zins, which are either heavily fruit forward or spicy, the Saldo is a beautifully balanced combination of blackberries, black cherries, and spice. It’s a bold wine that doesn’t overpower, finishes creamy-smooth, and can be drank off the shelf or cellar aged. Quite simply, it’s the best Zinfandel I have ever tried.
Saldo retails around $30 a bottle and is well worth the investment at twice the price. If you try a glass, let us know what you think!