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Ursa Major

Ursa Major Wine Details
Price: $21.95 per bottle

Description: 65% Zinfandel, 35% Norton. Our super-premium reserve red is named for its bear-like black color and richness, and also as a tribute to the regal creatures that roam our wilds. To the Greeks and Romans, the bear was the figure of female compassion, a belief derived from observing the mother’s care of her tiny cubs. In the classical world, the bear appeared as a goddess wearing a bear mask, the very symbol of the Great Mother of all creation. Her strength and intelligence, her maternal instinct, her ability to stand human-like on two feet, her understanding of the passing seasons in the natural world, her amazing ability to hibernate, have all contributed to the bear mythos in cults and religions throughout human culture. Oh Yeah, the wine: Our fifth Ursa release is almost a reverse of the previous formula because, well, it made the best wine in 2008 — no other explanation. It's a towering column of briary old-vine California Zinfandel blackberry flavor with some elderberry zing from the Norton. Those who follow our wines know this is the only hold-over from the days before adequate supplies of local grapes existed in the Mid-Atlantic, but this blend of America's cult grapes, one East and one from the West, is so darn good we can't stop ourselves. Were we not such a tiny boutique winery fanatical about making unusual, delicious wines, the carbon footprint of transporting the Zin from California would be objectionable. But, only 100 cases were made.

Varietal Definition
Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California wine vineyards. DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kaštelanski, and also the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in the 'heel' of Italy. It is typically made into a robust red wine. Its taste depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruits like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas such as the Napa Valley, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas such as Sonoma County. Many Zinfandels come from head pruned ‘Old Vines’. ‘Old Vine’ is generally understood to mean a vine that is more than 50 years old and that produces less than three tons per acre. ‘Head Pruning’ is an old European style of pruning that trains the vine into the shape of a goblet. It requires no wires or other complex trellis systems. Head pruning spreads the fruit uniformly along the vine and allows light penetration.In the USA a semi-sweet Rosé (blush-style) wine called ‘White Zinfandel’ has achieved widespread popularity. In fact, this popularity has so outstripped all other forms that many fans think there is actually a grape called “White Zinfandel” (there isn’t)!
In 1835, Dr. Daniel Norton of Virginia developed this grape varietal that was originally known as the Virginia Seedling. Widely planted in the Midwest (where it is sometimes called Cynthiana), it has become a source of interest to East Coast vintners in recent years. It produces a dark, inky wine with flavors of plums and cherries. Horton Vineyards in Virginia is particularly interested in reviving the grape's reputation. In the South, look for Norton (or Cynthiana) from Moonrise Bay, Mountain Valley, Three Sisters, Tiger Mountain and Tennessee Valley.


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