I have already sung Michael Martella's praises in conjunction with his Hammer Syrah but in case you didn't notice, let me say it again for the record: this man knows how to make fantastic wine. Interestingly enough I really only like his efforts that are done in small lots outside of his day job (as winemaker for Thomas Fogarty). While Michael has a few winners there (their Chards and Pinots) most of Fogarty's wines don't seem reach beyond the level of "very good." Yet when he steps outside to make wines under his own label or like this in a small lot for Martella Vineyards he is clearly capable of working magic.
I'm not sure yet whether the coincidence of last name is just that or whether Michael has a brother named Richard who happens to own a vineyard called Fiddletown in Amador County. In either case, it's clear that he's gotten his hands on a small lot of incredibly ripe Zinfandel for this wine, and he has wrung from it a very unique wine indeed.
In an unusual, but in this case brilliant winemaking decision, this wine is actually 86% Zinfandel, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Syrah. While many winemakers will add a little Petite Verdot or even Petite Syrah to their Zinfandels at times to balance the pepper and spice of the Zin fruit, this is definitely a unique blend. The result is one of the most universally likeable wines I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. What does that mean? Well, I'm willing to put money that any everyday consumer of wine who had a chance to sample this would love it. Some wine freaks who find everything besides Pinot Noir detestable (names withheld to protect the innocent) will turn up their noses at this one, but everyone else and their parents will love it.
300 cases made.
This wine is deep garnet headed towards brick red with age. Even despite some clear age in the color, the nose remains a fantastic perfume of gardenias, blackberries and mocha while in the mouth it is an unique mixture of cola and raspberry/blackberry preserves. The finish also incorporates flavors of sandalwood and tea as it lingers long in the back of the throat.
This wine has got the vitality of a young bullrider, so give it something spicy. How about lamb and chorizo chili?
Overall Score: 9/9.5
How Much?: $24-28
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Ridiculous Recommendations about Wine and Pregnancy Vinography Images: Storm Clouds I'll Drink to That: Brad Hickey of Brash Higgins Winery The 25th Annual Zinfandel Experience Tasting: February 27, San Francisco Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 2/1/16 Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 24, 2016 I'll Drink to That: Paul Roberts of Colgin Cellars Vinography Images: Forward and Back Martha Stewart's Wine Cellar is a Disaster I'll Drink to That: Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga of Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune