Zinfandel, in a sense, speaks several languages.
“What I love about zinfandel is that it can have as many interpretations as you want,” said Montse Reece, winemaker at Pedroncelli winery in Geyserville.
“It’s a very interesting variety and not as easy to work with as you might think. You need to know exactly what type of wine you want to make, and the wine should match your own tastes as well.
Reece is behind our Wine of the Week winner – the $24 Pedroncelli, 2019 Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County Zinfandel. This tangy zin is oversupplied by any measure. It has irresistible spice of cracked black pepper that runs through its generous fruit – black cherry, pomegranate and plum. Balanced with lively mineral notes and crisp acidity, it has great length and a spicy finish.
“The 2019 vintage was a good year for Zinfandel in the Dry Creek Valley,” Reece said. “We had a hot summer with no heat spikes, with cooler than normal harvest temperatures which delayed the ripening of the grapes. This changed the flavor profile of zinfandel from warm harvest season flavors and aromas to cooler ones. Lots of fruit flavors and minerality shine through in this vintage more than others and really make this Zinfandel a standout.
The hardest part of making zinfandel, she said, is locating the pick during harvest.
“To make our balanced Bordeaux-style Zinfandel, we have to watch batch by batch…so we don’t end up with unripe flavors if we pick too early or, on the other end, a high-alcohol Zinfandel with fruit overripe flavors if we pick too late,” Reece explained. “I want the Zinfandel to be as balanced as possible in every vintage.”
The winemaker said she has great respect for the Pedroncelli family and the history of their stake in Sonoma County.
Founders Giovanni and Julia Pedroncelli purchased the property, including 25 acres of vines, an enclosed winery and a house, in 1927. Spanning four generations, the family now operates 115 acres and their signature wines are Zinfandel and Cabernet. Sauvignon. They make a total of 18 different wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Port. There have been three winegrowers in 95 years. Preceding Reece was Giovanni, followed by his son, John.
Reece, 49, is from Catalonia, Spain, home to a culture that embraces wine on the table every night at dinner.
Reece studied agricultural engineering and obtained a specialty in oenology at the Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona in Spain. She graduated in 1998 and came to the United States as an intern with Gloria Ferrer. She then worked at other Sonoma County wineries – Rodney Strong and Ferrari Carano – before joining Pedroncelli Winery in Geyserville in 2007. She was named winemaker in 2015.
“Making wine is an art, a craft, but it’s also a science,” Reece said. “You have to be passionate about what you’re doing, but you also have to know why it’s all happening. Wine is a big part of my life and I wouldn’t want to be anything other than a winemaker.
You can reach editor Peg Melnik at [email protected] or 707-521-5310.