Storybook Mountain Vineyards’ Zinfandels are my kind of Zinfandels. I like to be able to taste the fruit.  All too often in the attempt to extract as much power as possible, Zinfandels are pushed overboard so that alcohol and structure mask the intrinsic charm of Zinfandel – its fruit. A Zinfandel that doesn’t bowl you over isn’t necessarily a wimpy wine or one lacking in concentration. A balanced Zinfandel will, however, reward the wine drinker with nuance, layers of flavors and compatibility with food. The 2009 Mayacamas Range from Storybook Mountain is such a Zinfandel. A welcoming floral note greets the senses and moves on to cool dark raspberry fruit, hints of soil and juicy acidity on the palate. It is a silky Zinfandel that glides on and on. 
Owner/winemaker Jerry Seps explained to me that the unique soil of his vineyards along with their eastern exposure and location in the coolest part of the Napa Valley, in the hillsides north of Calistoga, all contribute to the retention of vivid aromatics and the snappy fruit of his wines. The Aiken series clay soil that is found at Storybook Mountain Vineyards is quite rare in Napa and has a distinctive red color. The clay is volcanic in origin and rich in magnesium and iron. The Seps farm without herbicides or insecticides and are certified organic. Dr. Seps’ approach to winemaking, just like others whom I admire that work intimately with the vineyard, is to preserve the freshness of the fruit by basically standing out of the way. I was overcome by a feeling of familiarity when I last tasted the 2009 Mayacamas Range Zinfandel, like I was catching up with an old friend I haven’t seen in years – quickly falling back into laughter, inside jokes and intimacy. I think this emotional response comes from tasting a wine – one I’ve tasted many times over the years – that is sight specific and expressive of place. It tasted familiar because the Mayacamas Range Zinfandel from Storybook Mountain Vineyards will always have a constant at its core despite vintage variations. It’s no wonder Wine & Spirits Magazine has named Storybook Mountain Vineyards one of the Top 100 Wineries in the World nine times! 
School’s out in a few days, summer is just around the corner and I’m starting to plan my next patio party. I’ll likely have my hubby grill something up, while I’ll handle the salads and sides. To complete my summer dinner party, a bottle of Zinfandel must grace the table. I won’t want one that will assault my senses. No way! That’s why I’ll be taking home a bottle of the 2009 Mayacamas Range Zinfandel from Storybook Mountain Vineyards. Sounds heavenly! —Anya Balistreri