Story 2011 and 2012 Zinfandels “Alitia Vineyard”

These were a couple of interesting Zinfandels from the California Shenandoah Valley AVA (to distinguish it from the Shenandoah Valley AVA in Virginia and West Virginia) within the larger Sierra Foothills AVA.  Both wines are lighter and more elegant than most Zins from coastal CA, and it was interesting to compare and contrast the two vintages.

2011 Vintage; 15% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 September


The bottom of the cork on this wine was covered with crystals of tartaric acid, which I took as a good sign.  At first opening, this wine showed only lighter-intensity fruit of darker red raspberry and a gentle but obstructive veil of tannin.  As it aired over a couple hours, the fruit filled out some and darkened to include some lighter purple / blue fruit in a structure, dense compared to the fruit, of earth / dried orange peel / grape stem (but not bitter).  Its elegant, lighter fruit combined with a thicker, earthy structure somewhat reminded me of Barolo, although clearly not made with Nebbiolo grapes.  🙂  Even at the end of the evening, I wasn’t sure if it had fully aired.

The saved, single-glass screwcap bottle was indeed more fruit-forward, but not by much.  Although I found it interesting and tasty now, it would probably develop well with a couple more years of age.

2012 vintage; 14.5% ABV
$6 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 4 September

Story_2012_ZinThe 2012 vintage initially struck me as almost completely fruit-forward, with rather candy-like lighter red cherry and almost watermelon, with only a trace of the 2011’s earthy structure evident in the finish.  However, after a couple hours of air in a decanter, the fruit filled out a little and darkened nicely to become predominantly blackberry / maybe tar in a thinner (than the 2011) structure of darkly earthy tannin, with only a little of the cherry / watermelon remaining.  Even though the wine was lighter in body and flavor, it stood up acceptably to beef stewed in a broth of soy sauce, rice cooking wine, ginger, and a little balsamic vinegar.

Although I enjoyed these wines, I thought they lacked the complexity for me to be highly enthusiastic about them.  So, I recommend them for the interesting and tasty experience (and of course more if you like them!), but wouldn’t put them above Drinkable.


11 thoughts on “Story 2011 and 2012 Zinfandels “Alitia Vineyard”

  1. Rob Garr

    After reading the wine details on the back of an ’11 I recently opened, it revealed that 2/3 of the three acre ”Alitia” Estate Vineyard was planted in 2000, quite young vines as far as Zins are concerned. Nevertheless, despite the fact that color and extract weren’t exactly what I would consider as being up to par for a 15% Zin, the fruit and pleasant tannins masked the alcohol in a rather pleasing way. I thought that the wine was a good value for the price and I’m certain that future offerings from this vineyard will show greater promise in the years ahead.

  2. Seedboy

    Yes and by the time I got there, they were all gone. New wine there today including Villa 46 2012 rhone blend from Paso for $3.99. Ripe but clean and balanced. Yummy.

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      In the island that is made up of only stacks of wine (no shelves), the lower cases are 2011. If you’re digging in, please be careful.

      1. BargainWhine Post author

        I will try today to replace the 2011s in the stack with 2012s from in back, and put the 2011s in a separate place on the shelf. Mondays are busy days, though, so I may not get to it today. Update later same day: Done.

        I should also add that I thought both the 2011 and 2012 Story Zins were of comparable quality, and one’s preference would depend on whether one preferred more structured (2011) or more forwardly fruity and complex (2012) wines.

  3. theconnasewer

    As with a lot of G/O. wines, the bottom line is this. Do you buy more or move on. If you have to think about this more than 2 seconds the decision is made. They sell a lot of “nice” wines. But easy forgettable. Years ago many well recognized wineries dumped good stuff at G/O. Not anymore. Party over!

    1. seedboy

      I do think it is fair to say that well recognized wineries dumping good stuff at GO happens less than it once did, but it still happens. Story has been making wine in Amador over 20 years, for instance. When the 2012 California red wines are behind vintage, I expect to see more known wines, as production in that vintage was massive and will be hard to sell.

      1. BargainWhine Post author

        Like Seedboy, I have considered getting more of the 2011 Story Zin (Richmond still had a little on the shelf yesterday, and I believe there is more buried under stacks of the 2012 if you ask for it), but it takes a lot for me to repeat buy instead of trying something new.

        1. EricfromRichmond

          I moved some bottles and dug into the box below the top layer and found at least 1 case of the 2011, so there are at least 11 bottles left. The Richmond store wine dept. needs to get their act together. Mixing ’11s and ’12s– strictly bush league 😉

          1. JoelA

            The 2011 has quite nice flavors but needs to be drunk with a hearty dish, e.g. a stew, because of the high alcohol.


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