This wine began as a project for Shelly Rafanelli, daughter of David and Patty Rafanelli the winemaker their family winery that specializes in zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon. A small production wine available only at the winery (their zin and cab are available to mailing list customers, at restaurants or at the winery only) is worth trying and buying. On the nose one gets sweet cherries, earth tones and mushrooms. Dark, but not completely opaque, the color is what you'd expect of a big wine. While there was a lot of fruit on the palate, I got iron on the finish, which was a bit off-putting. Still, I like the merlot and I respect the family and what they're doing with their wines. You must call for an appointment to taste at A. Rafanelli, and don't be put off by their phone manner, which can be less than welcoming. Once you're at the winery, I've never had less than a welcoming, gracious, and pleasant experience.
Having lived in Northern California for 25 years, I've had an ever-increasing interest in wine (especially red) and wine-food pairings. My favorite varietals are Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from Sonoma and Napa, Pinot Noir from Oregon, and Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone wines from France.