HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Plungerhead 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel (91% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah), Dry Creek Valley. 14.9% ABV. $19.99/suggested retail, available for as little as $10.95.

I’m not a plumber, but this Plungerhead can be my friend anytime. At the “can be found for” price of around $11, it’s the perfect Zinfandel to keep in stock for everyday. However, it’s fine enough that I would happily serve it on special occasions as well.

I love it when a wine evokes emotions, or a scene/scenario, and this one did. To me, if this wine were a person, he would be tall, distinguished, and all dressed up for the theatre. From the moment we opened the bottle, the aroma was distinguished, classy, and ready for a good time. No falling asleep in Act II for this guy!

APPEARANCE: Dark ruby, pink edges. Legs!
AROMA: Distinguished. Aromatic: Blackberry pie, a French-kiss of oak.
FLAVOR: Delicious. Cloves, an eensy bit of cinnamon. Big, expanding flavors of big dark berries, caramel, raspberry.
FINISH: Smooth, warm and lingering; gentle in the tannins department.
OUR ADVICE: Stock up before the 2009 runs out. Only 2,700 cases were made.

So where did the funny name come from? Well, two reasons, really. First, when you pull out the ZORK closure, a gentle popping noise happens, and I suppose it would resemble a miniature plunger’s effect and sound. Second, past vintages of Plungerhead have explained on the back label that the wine was named after employee Eddie Plongerheid. As one wine merchant (www.GarysWine.com) says, “The Sebastiani Family must have a wicked sense of humor … they simply couldn’t resist naming it after their loyal winery employee Eddie Plongerheid and coming up with the silly little graphic on the front label. Hey, it’s humor and invention that keeps us young, and they’ve certainly been playing with both!”

I agree. Besides Plungerhead, The Other Guys’ labels include The White Knight (“Saving the world from the tyranny of Chardonnay!”), Hey Mambo, Leese-Fitch, Pennywise, and Moobuzz. We have tried a couple of the Leese-Fitch wines, the Moobuzz Pinot Noir (http://www.thefrugalwinesnob.com/?p=700), and The White Knight Viognier (http://www.thefrugalwinesnob.com/?p=403), and they are excellent.

The people behind Plungerhead and The Other Guys’ other fine wines are fourth-generation members of the Sebastiani family. If you haven’t tried a Sebastiani since the 1970s or ’80s, trust me, the marque bears no resemblance to your Dad’s jug wine of yore. These Sebastiani great-grandchildren are making some very hip and exciting fine wines.

LABEL NOTES: Dry Creek Valley is a world-class location to grow Zinfandel. This appellation is tucked between the cool Russian River Valley and the hot Alexander Valley. The ideal climate and steep gravely hillsides are why many of the highest-tier Zinfandel producers call this valley home. We have crowned this fine wine with a “plungerhead” to keep it safely sealed, until the perfect time for your enjoyment.

WINERY NOTES: The 2009 Dry Creek Zin bursts with aromas of molasses, dried fruit, sappy blackberry, white pepper, and warm middle eastern spices. The first sip brims of dark raspberry, black cherry, cola, tamarind, and dried plum. Flavors of baked blackberry pie, teriyaki beef jerky, cardamom, and clove spice linger on your mid-palate. On the finish, the dark dried fruit comes back with hints of cedar, vanilla, and root beer.
* 2009 brought late season heat with even ripening. Our Dry Creek Zin blocks brought wonderful dark fruit with a lot of depth. There is a really wonderful balance of dark fruit with integrated spice and oak. A majority of the Zinfandel that makes up this blend came from three blocks in Dry Creek Valley, two of which are comprised of 40+ year old vines. This wine shows wonderful Old Vine character in the dark dried fruit notes. The balance of the blend was a splash of Dry Creek Petite Sirah, Lodi Petite Sirah, and a touch of Paso Robles Zinfandel. The Petite Sirah adds great color and jammy fruit, where the Paso Zin adds pure white pepper spice to the blend.

WEB SITE NOTES: The Other Guys is dedicated to producing high quality wines for good value, and is widely recognized for its zealous approach to creative, cutting-edge marketing and unique wine packaging. The Other Guys (TOG) is the next page in the 100-year history of one of California’s oldest wine families. Through TOG, siblings Mia & August Sebastiani, are determined to make wines that will continue their family’s reputation for quality winemaking for generations to come. We are building this company one handshake at a time, stepping back to the early days when all wine companies were family owned and operated. And through our website, we invite you to learn more about where those wines came from, who we are, and what we’re all about.

CLOSURE: ZORK.

TECH STUFF:
Variety: 91% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley
Alcohol: 14.9%
pH: 3.62
TA: 0.63 mg/L
2,700 cases made.

WEB: www.TOGwines.com

Sample received for review.

UPDATE: In December 2011 we found THIS version (the Lodi) at Fresh Market in Gainesville, FL, for $14.99. We enjoyed it, but we didn’t think it was quite as good as the Dry Creek. On the other hand, we didn’t let it rest AT ALL (our normal practice is to let a new wine sit for at least a couple of weeks before popping it open).

Besides the different appellation, here’s some more information that might explain the difference. The Dry Creek Zin consisted of 91% Zin with 9% Petite Sirah. This (the Lodi) is 98% Zin and 2% Syrah. The Dry Creek tasted just a little brighter and more refined to me, but this incarnation is still RECOMMENDED.

And, confirming the legend, here’s what the label says:
“Hey, Zork Dork is back!” “Ed-deeee…my man!” I’m not the kind of guy who holds a grudge, so what I got back to the office, I just laughed along with everyone else. Of course I had thought it was just another practical joke when someone first left the Plungerhead bottle on my desk. Very funny, I thought. But then, I realized it was for real. I kept telling myself the guy’s face on the front label didn’t resemble me at all—and my legs didn’t really look half bad. And after all, they really did sort of name this wine after me.
Edgar D. Plongerheid, Loyal Employee.
Fresh crushed berries perfectly laced between a core of oak and cinnamon spice with notes of white pepper and sweet plum.

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4 Responses to HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Plungerhead 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel (91% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah), Dry Creek Valley. 14.9% ABV. $19.99/suggested retail, available for as little as $10.95.

  1. Brenda K Hauth says:

    I love, love, love this wine !!! But, I can hardly find it anymore. I live in Elk Grove – 95758; can you tell me who carries it please ?

    Thank you so much :)
    Brenda

  2. Monica says:

    LoveIt! But it is hard to find in my area:( They only get a case or two at a time. I have told friends about it, (maybe I should not have!) and it is gone when it hits the shelf. Amd I love the Leese Fitch Merlot and Cab, also hard to find…..boooo hoo…

  3. They are reliable, classic wines. Have you asked your wine shop to order some for you, or to reserve it for you when it comes in?

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