Gravity Hills Tumbling Tractor Zinfandel 2004
Paso Robles is a large inland region to the northeast of San Luis Obispo; known for its
Zinfandel (and in earlier days as a “no questions asked” haven for outlaws), the region tends
to be hot, mitigated in places by altitude. This is the case for Gravity Hills which makes
much of its hilliness and location on the west side of Paso Robles: rocky and poor soil, hot
days and chilly nights, just the milieu for wine grapes, especially as the chilly nights promote
slow ripening. The incline of the slopes (“tumbling tractor” is supposed to be a literal
description) promotes sun exposure, vine stress, and quick drainage; once again, the grapes
take to the harshness.
Gravity Hills may have a point, you know. The $14 Zinfandel did taste like it came from the ground rather than a candy factory. I decanted the wine for five hours first. The wine is a deep ruby with touches of purple around the edges; the nose is clean, the alcohol reasonable for this type of product at 13.6%. (knowing that Zinfandels can often stretch into the 15-16% range, a real challenge to food).
The nose uncovered blackberry and blackcurrant, vanilla, black pepper, mushrooms, almond,
and an animal meatiness, maybe leather. The palate registered plums, prunes, vanilla, black
pepper, red bell pepper, almond, broccoli, cedar, tobacco, cigar box, and I could even say
chocolate (though I firmly believe that only chocolate truly smells like chocolate). The wine
is still young, and I want to taste it again.
Verdict: Give It Another Try
Wine gives you the humility to realize you cannot know everything and at the same time the confidence that some day you may know something.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman