Be Jolly Drink Biale: Black Chicken Society November 2020 Allocation

2018 Black Chicken Zinfandel
2018 Black Chicken Zinfandel

“Be Jolly, Drink Biale”, has been our motto here at Robert Biale Vineyards as we gear up for the holiday season.  Our quarterly Black Chicken Society Members are now fully prepared as they have just received their last wine club allocation of the year! Can we all agree, no holiday is complete without our Zinfandel? Yes—we can! That is why included in the 4th club allocation is the 2018 Black Chicken Zinfandel, 2018 Aldo’s Vineyard Zinfandel, 2018 Grande Vineyard Zinfandel, and 2018 Pagani Ranch Vineyard Zinfandel. Let us take a dive into each of these wines to get you excited for when you pop that cork! Winemaker, Tres Goetting does a great job of making these wines approachable right away or you can let them age for 5 to 7 years. It comes down to each person’s preference on how long they like to age their wines!

Zinfandel is one of the most versatile wines to pair with food. With our 15 different single vineyard designates, you can imagine that each wine has its perfect pairing. Think about the herbs, spices, and slow cooked meats we all enjoy during the holidays. The aromatics that fill your kitchen during the holidays, are tough competition to the beautiful aromatics in these Zinfandels. The red fruit characteristics in Zinfandel, are a great balance to your holiday cuisine!

To prove to you all that Zinfandel is a great holiday wine, we have included a pairing for each of the four wines below. You can also visit our previous blog post to get more inspiration from our team cookbook (add hyperlink to direct to previous blog).

Here it is—the Holiday Zin Pack!

2018 Black Chicken Zinfandel, Napa Valley: This story began with a young boy at the age of 13 who was helping his mother save their family ranch. This young boy was Aldo Biale, and after his father’s passing at the age of 13, he decided to make wine from the vines planted on their property. Although, after prohibition, it was still illegal for a 13-year-old to make, bottle, and sell wine. At the time all phone lines in Napa Valley operated as a “party line”. A “party line” phone line was a system where all your neighbors shared the same line, so you had to wait for your neighbor to get off the phone so you could make your call. Well, that was not convenient for young Aldo, so he decided to come up with a code word so his Italian neighbors could call and order their weekly jug of Zin more easily. The Biale ranch was known for its legions of white leghorn chickens so it seemed logical to Aldo that the code name for his secret wine should be Gallina Nera–Black Chicken. This code word not only saved the family ranch that still exists today, but it also helped to create our story as a winery! 

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: The nose is full of vibrant black cherries, raspberries, cinnamon, white cake, fresh purple flowers, and subtle dried herbs. The entry is bright and gives way to supple, round tannins and a kiss of toasted oak. The wine is aged in French Oak barrels for 14 months. The lovely finish is the signature of this elegant and remarkably balanced Zinfandel that is immediately drinkable and worthy of 5-to-7 more years of cellar time.

Holiday Food Pairing: Maura’s Italian Meatballs

Aldo Biale pruning Zinfandel vines in 1978.
Aldo Biale pruning Zinfandel vines in 1978.

2018 Aldo’s Vineyard Zinfandel, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley: This head-trained vineyard was planted in 1937 and was the original vineyard for the Black Chicken Zinfandel, sold in jugs by Aldo Biale. It was not until 1991 when his eldest son, Bob Biale, joined him on the venture to make the first fully legal vintage, and thus Aldo’s Vineyard Zinfandel debuted. It was at that time that the vineyard was officially named Aldo’s Vineyard in honor of his hard work, dedication, and love of Zinfandel.

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: The Oak Knoll winegrowing region is well represented in this wine with its dark color, ripe aromatics, and juicy acidity. Aromas of ripe strawberries, lavender, dried flowers, white peach, maple, and black cherry are apparent. The wine has a fresh entry and tannins that are supple and round. The wine is remarkably balanced with an elegant mouthwatering finish. As was the practice in the old days, a sprinkling of other varietals are found throughout the vineyard and add to the complexity of the wine: Petite Sirah, Abouriou, Carignane, Grand noir, Tempranillo, Refosco, Gamay, and even Golden Chasselas. It is immediately drinkable, yet worthy of 5-to-7 more years of cellar time.

Holiday Food Pairing: Tom’s Crockpot Italian Beef

Grande Vineyard in Napa Valley
Grande Vineyard Zinfandel in Napa Valley

2018 Grande Vineyard Zinfandel, Napa Valley: Just east of the historic Silverado Trail near the town of Napa, lies an old Zinfandel vineyard that is one of our favorite historic family stories in Napa Valley. Dorothy Rossi and her son, Tony Rossi, take care of an old-vine vineyard that was planted by Dorothy’s father, Theodosio Grande, in 1920–the same year that Dorothy was born! As Dorothy and the vineyard reach the centenarian milestone this year, they are as vibrant and inspirational as ever. The Biale team had the privilege of attending the 100th harvest last year and the moment we stepped onto the property, we felt as if we were back in the early days of Napa Valley. Dorothy was in the kitchen baking biscotti for the harvest team as her son, Tony, led the harvest crew. The Grande Vineyard Zinfandel has been in the Biale lineup since 2001 and we cherish every vintage that we get to produce–you can just taste the rich history in every glass!

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: Layers of aromatics including pear, orange blossom, strawberry, violets, cocoa, currants, and dried herbs are present. Fresh entry with medium body and building tannins. Flavors of blackberry, quince, and spiced cake. This is a versatile wine that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with many different fares.

Holiday Food Pairing: Lola’s Stuffing

Old Vine Alicante at Pagani Ranch in Sonoma County
Alicante at Pagani Ranch in Sonoma County

2018 Pagani Ranch Vineyard Zinfandel, Sonoma County: Dino Amantite and his mother Norma Pagani Amantite are the devoted caretakers of this iconic vineyard in Sonoma at Dunbar Road and Highway 12, which has been in their family for over a century. Angela and Felice Pagani came from Italy to Sonoma Valley in the late 1880s and purchased the ranch. It was planted originally in the 1880s then added to in the 1920s by Felice Pagani, Norma’s grandfather. As with many of the historic vineyards, you will find that they are a “field blend” of different varietals including: Zinfandel, Alicante Bouschet, Lenoir, Petite Sirah, Grand Noir, and numerous others.

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: Beautiful dark color with aromas of blackberry, ripe plum, dark chocolate, fig, caramel, prosciutto, and toasted vanilla oak. Black, red, and blue fruits are present on the palate. An integrated package of fat tannins and pleasing taut acidity in the wine. This is a big, structured Zinfandel to watch develop over months and years to come.

Holiday Food Pairing: Pat’s Fried Prime Rib