Santa Cruz Mountains, California, USA
Alex Kraus and John Locke founded Birichino in Santa Cruz in 2008 after four decades of making wine in the US and Europe. They source from a number of carefully farmed, family-owned, own-rooted 19th and early 20th century vineyards planted in more moderate, marine-influenced climates, fermenting with native yeasts and bottling wines unfiltered. The St Georges Zinfandel was first planted on gravelly loam soils by an Italian bootlegger in 1922 in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Being both on the wrong side of the law and quite literally the road, the vineyard is oddly 50ft too low to qualify for what became the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in 1981, hence its classification of ‘Central Coast’ on the front label. The mountain and marine influence of Monterey Bay just to the west is undeniable, and the cooler costal nights allow for longer grape ripening periods while retaining acidity, resulting in an elegant representation of costal Zin with more freshness and lower alcohol levels than its contemporaries north of the Bay Area. Native yeast fermented, aged in neutral barrels and demi-muid, bottled unfiltered. Edging on decadence, with ripe black and red raspberries, spice, brambly tannins, and bright acidity keeping it light on its feet.