There’s a silhouette of the San Francisco skyline spanning every bottle from the Rock Wall Wine Co. because this exuberant winery begun by Shauna Rosenblum and her dad, zin master Kent Rosenblum, was founded inside an old Naval air base hanger off San Fransico Bay in Alameda. But the Rosenblums source their fruit from all over California’s wine country. And the 100 percent zinfandel grapes in this lush and powerful red are special. Not only does the fruit gain a century-plus worth of complexity from hanging on genuinely old (more than 126 years) vines, it was farmed by now 97-year-old Jesse Meadows at his Duarte vineyard in Oakley, Contra Costa County. Though the backstory may be all about veteran hands (including Kent, who sold his namesake winery in 2008), this wine tastes remarkably fresh and balanced, especially considering its high octane status at 16.4 percent alcohol. I get a ripe burst of bold black fruit and cocoa laced with tart red berries, tobacco, black tea tannins, a grind of pepper, and mint. But the finish is ultimately smooth and accessible. This wine begs for the smoky sizzle of a summer barbecue or charcoal-roasted steak, so light the grill and uncork the plush taste of deep zin history.
— Craig LaBan
Rock Wall Zinfandel Contra Costa County Jesses Vineyard 2013, $19.99 (code 73594)