The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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40  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2015 MILESTONES R obert Biale's grandfather, Pietro Biale, planted the Biale family's first block of Zinfandel vines in Napa Valley in 1937. His father earned extra income by selling his homemade Zinfandel for a dollar a gallon—the code over the party line phone for the gallon jug of Zin was "a black chicken." Today, Biale's Black Chicken Zinfandel has become the winery's flagship wine. "My dad and I knew not to sacrifice Zinfandel vineyards for Bordeaux varieties— now our vines are rare and historically significant, and we are fortunate that in the Cabernet-centric appel- lation of Napa Valley we have been able to establish ourselves as Napa Valley's preservationists of the heritage grape varieties—Zinfandel and Petite Sirah." While Zinfandel accounts for only two percent of Napa Valley's vines, Robert Biale Vineyards makes 14 different Zinfandel bottlings. "It's remarkable how Zinfandels from different sites taste so different from one another," he emphasizes. The winery also offers four different Petite Sirahs, a perfect partner for Zinfandel, which he calls his "pampered pets." All the wines are aged in French oak (as little as 16% new) with thicker staves. "We don't want to camouflage all the wonderful nuances that the vineyard brings us." With Biale, his family and founding partner Dave Pramuk celebrating the winery's 25th anniversary this year, we met with Bob Biale and Biale winemaker Tres Goetting to taste through some of the winery's 2013 vintages. They absolutely wowed us! Robert Biale 2013 Stagecoach Vineyard Zinfandel ($50) is the only Zinfandel planted to this famous high-elevation "extreme terroir" mountain property in Napa. The Biale Block is five acres and was planted in 1999. It's a true palate-grabber with big tobacco and mountain tannins, lightened up by velvety dark chocolate espresso. The mouthfeel ranges from dry start and perpetually crescendos then softens. 95 Robert Biale 2013 R.W. Moore Vineyard Zinfandel, Coombsville ($50) Coombsville is one of our favorite Napa Valley AVAs and this Zin shows off the rich, lush soil profiles off Mt. George through this magnificent red. Winemaker Goetting blends in some Carignane, Mourvèdre and a bit of Petite Sirah. "The cake batter soil feels like a poufy moonscape," he explains. The nose reminds me of a blueberry pie with a hint of Worcestershire sauce. The flavors that come through with first sip include rasp- berry, fleshy plum and the texture comes on softly and builds. 95 Robert Biale 2013 Aldo's Vineyard Zinfandel, Napa Valley ($78) is Bob's favorite and also has sentimental value. "It's the vineyard I grew up in," he notes. This was the field his father cared for his whole life. This is the vineyard that got immediate notice by consumers and sommeliers who appreciated the winery's gentle and elegant Burgundian approach to Zinfandel. Sandalwood, white pep- per and baking spices aromatically fly out of the glass and into the mouth. Chewy tannins drive the new leather and black cherry with refined elegance. This is the race car performance model. 96 Celebrating 25 Years with Robert Biale Robert "Bob" Biale. Winemaker Tres Goetting. by Meridith May THE NAPA VALLEY ZINFANDEL PRODUCER WAS LITERALLY GRANDFATHERED IN TO GROWING ZINFANDEL

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