While tasting we were honored with a visit from Clementina Biale (who is the matriarch of the family. She confirmed the story about the party line and the black chicken and told us other stories as well. A bright, engaging and fascinating woman, Ms. Baile would provide a very interesting subject for a biography. We hope we will see her again during our next visit.
|Watch for Black Chicken|
This winery is famous for its Zinfandel, but they have been sourcing grapes to make a Sauvignon Blanc. Our tasting, therefore, began with the Robert Biale 2010 Pollo Bianco Sauvignon Blanc from Yountville AVA which sells for $22. The wine was pleasant enough but will soon be discontinued. Our next tasting was the Robert Biale 2009 Rocky Ridge Zinfandel from Rockpile AVA ($50). This is from younger vines and is grown at a higher elevation than most of the Biale Zins and was a lighter wine than the Monte Rosso Zin that was also $50. It was a good Zin but we preferred the luscious Robet Biale 009 Monte Rosso Zinfandel. After tasting it at the winery, we both bought some to take home. This had a black cherry aroma with a bold ripe fruit presentation plus minerality, spice, good acidity, highly integrated tannins and a decent finish. This is neither a thin Zin nor an excessively alcoholic one. It is fairly big with ripe fruit but not at all one-dimensional, having complexity and great balance. We also liked the Robert Biale 2008 Petite Sirah from Oak Knoll ($42) and the Robert Biale 2006 Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah ($62). The Petite Sirah had a light nose with pleasant tannins while the Syrah had a pronounced aroma of cherries with good tannin and ripe fruit without being overly fruit forward.
The winery is famous for their Black Chicken Zinfandel that sells for $42 and we heard good things about the Aldo Zinfandel ($75) and the Like Father Like Son Blend (2008), but these were not available to us for tasting.
Robert Biale makes some outstanding red wines and some of the best Zinfandels ever. If you love red wine or Zins in particular, you will certainly want to visit. The tasting fee is $20 but each tasting fee may be applied to a purchase. If you are unable to visit the winery but would like to taste a marvelous Zinfandel, we both strongly recommend you consider purchasing the Robert Biale 2009 Monte Rosso at $50. I’ll update this review as we try more Robert Biale wines, something we are definitely planning to do.
4038 Big Ranch Rd
Napa, CA 94581
Date of visit: March 7, 2012