91 Points - International Wine Review
We have featured Willowbrook Wines many times in the past on WineHeist, and have consider them one of our finest sources of Sonoma Pinot Noir and Syrah, so it was no surprise to find their Zinfandel begging us for more. We were truly delight as we tasted the wine, as Willowbrook’s deft touch with Pinot and Syrah clearly carries over to Zinfandel as well.
The 2012 Willowbrook Pagnano Zinfandel, from a tiny vineyard just west of Santa Rosa, is brilliant ruby in color. The nose shows zinfandel’s typical mix of jammy berry aromas, along with notes of mint and earth. The palate shows plenty of sweet berry, but with complexity coming from notes of cherry, white pepper, and a hint of smoke. Vibrant acidity and round tannin contribute structure to the wine, and the finish is lush and bright at the same time. This wine shows that just because a wine is big, doesn’t mean it can’t be balanced, the hallmark of a great Zin.
APPELLATION: Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
COMPOSITION: 100% Zinfandel
AGING: French Oak barrels
PRODUCTION: 140 cases
Willowbrook started in 2001 as a dream of winemaker, Joe Otos, then 26 years old. This dream became reality after he teamed up with retired technology executives, John Tracy and Ed Sillari. Sillari and Tracy had recently moved to the wine country and had begun separately to explore opportunities to pursue their passion for wine. Sillari was involved in wine sales and Tracy had acquired a hilltop vineyard in Forestville. Their combined experiences were all the pieces needed to get Willowbrook Cellars started.
During the first few years production was limited to about 500 cases split between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Willowbrook began to increase its production of vineyard designate wines; seeking out interesting small vineyards each with its own microclimate and flavor profile.
Willowbrook Cellars wines may be found in gourmet restaurants and in specialty wine stores, but because of the small case production, most of the sales have been generated by word of mouth.
Learn more at www.willowbrookcellars.com.