Coppola Director’s Cut Zinfandel 2013, Dry Creek Valley
I often find that when I drink wine, the whole experience is more pleasant when you are with people you like. You can be objective and identify flavors in the wine and all that, but there is something about drinking with a group of friends that makes everything better.
So when I review wines with friends I try to be a little tougher, or to try the wine a second time to make sure the experience doesn’t influence my opinion of the wine.
That was the case when I tried the Coppola Director’s Cut Zinfandel. I drank it with a group of great friends on a trip to the mountains, and the wine was terrific. It was one of those magical evenings when everything seemed special so I tried the wine again later and it was just as good.
It is a beautiful deep garnet in the glass, with powerful aromas of blackberries, cherries, cloves and black pepper. The first sip reveals raspberries and black currants, which are later joined by vanilla, spices and anise. It is a rich, lush full-bodied wine, with a velvety mouthfeel.
The fruit all comes from 40-to-80-year-old vines in the Dry Creek Valley, a great region for zinfandel. Some petite sirah is added for structure.
Half the fruit was crushed whole and the seeds and skin were fermented in open-top fermentors for maximum color and flavor. After blending the wine spent 12 months in French and American oak, 20 percent new and 80 percent one to two years old. The oak adds to the wine’s spice qualities.
The vintage marked the second straight year of near-perfect weather, so the harvest was even better than usual.
The name and label acknowledge Francis Ford Coppola’s incredible movie career. In film making, the director’s cut is the version that best reflects the director’s vision. Coppola’s Director’s Cut line of wine allows director of winemaking Corey Beck to create his own vision of a quintessential Sonoma wine.
The wines are designated by appellation among Sonoma’s diverse and distinctive microclimates. Each wine in the series reflects the microclimate where the grapes are grown.
The wraparound label is designed after a Zoetrope strip, one of the earliest moving picture devices. Each Director’s Cut label is a replica of a strip from Coppola’s personal Zoetrope collection
Winery: One of the favorite jokes in the wine industry is you make a small fortune in the wine business by starting with a large fortune. It is a difficult business and many who get rich in other arenas, can’t compete in the wine industry.
Coppola is one of the exceptions. His wines are as good as his movies.
After his huge success with The Godfather movies, Coppola got into the wine business when he bought the former home and vineyard of wine pioneer Gustave Niebaum in Napa Valley’s Rutherford in 1975. The whole family pitched in for the first vintage in 1977 under the Niebaum-Coppola label.
He expanded in 1995 by buying the former Inglenook Winery chateau.
In 2006 the Coppolas bought the former Chateau Souverain winery in Geyserville and the company later became the Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Over the next four years Coppola worked with Beck to revitalize and expand the operation. New tasting rooms opened in 2010, with two restaurants, a swimming pool, a movie gallery, a performing arts pavilion and a park area with game tables and bocce courts.
Coppola says he was inspired by Denmark’s Tivoli Gardens to create a place for families to enjoy all the best things in life together.
Visitors to the property can choose from several tasting options, a tour of the bottling plant, a hike through the vineyards or a behind the scenes tour during harvest.
This property became the home for the popular Diamond Collection wines, 12 single varietals and two distinctive blends.
The other Coppola brands include Director’s Cut, Director’s, FC Reserve, Archimedes, Eleanor, Pitagora, Gia by Gia Coppola, Rosso & Bianco, Sofia, Votre Sante and Su Yuen.
In describing how his winery turned out, Coppola said, “So when we began to develop the idea for this winery, we thought it should be like a resort, basically a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.”
Goes with: We had this beautiful wine when we spent some time in the North Carolina mountains with friends. One of the couples–John and Edith from Savannah–periodically invite the other three couples to their mountain home Maggie Valley.
We also meet at Edisto Beach and other fun places. We hike, read, work jigsaw puzzles, play cards, tell stories, rest and eat.
This is a group that first got together on a California wine trip, and we modestly called ourselves the Magnificent Seven. We became the Magnificent Eight when we added one more person to our group. Even if the movie “The Hateful Eight” had been out, we wouldn’t have named ourselves that because everyone gets along so well. We never seem to tire of each other’s company.
Wine drinking is a central activity, though certainly not the only one. Jigsaw puzzles are a group addiction, and we play this confounding, hilarious card game called 99. I think the best times are just sitting around talking about life. Some of the couples have been married forever, some just a few years.
We come from varied backgrounds, such as physician, psychology professor, nurse, stock broker’s office, college president with a biology background, teacher, homemaker, stewardess and newspaper editor. Two were boyhood neighbors, and I’m the only one who didn’t start out a Southerner, but chose to become one. (I know, I know, it’s called a damned Yankee.)
But we all get along, and we don’t all have to agree on everything. If only Congress could work like we do. Maybe those rascals don’t drink enough wine together, or maybe they don’t play 99.
We have built some fine memories, and the night we drank the Coppola zin was one of them.
One night in the mountains the four men joined forces and made chili that was perfect for the cool weather. We didn’t use a recipe, so it was one of those dishes than can never be recreated, but it involved a lot of ground beef, onions, tomatoes, spices and kidney beans. We added a fruit salad for the healthy touch.
It was a great match for this lush, robust wine. The fruit tamed the spices in the chili, and the whole meal just blended perfectly. As we ate we watched the sun slide below the mountain peaks across the valley and felt very fortunate.
This wine would go well with all kinds of meals, from simple food such as pizza and burgers, to elegant meals such as a duck ragout, leg of lamb or a rich stew.
Author Dennis Sodomka