The come-hither labels of Wine Guerrilla caught my attention, to be sure. Featuring a cadre of Matisse-like nymphs, sans fatigues, they bring to mind the "snakebite!" scene from Woody Allen's 1971 movie Bananas. Fun stuff, but this is no campy "shiner" schtick; it's a line of unique, single-vineyard Sonoma County Zinfandels. Curiosity piqued, I went through diplomatic back channels to arrange a rendezvous with the Guerrilla leader, in his secret headquarters deep within a local shopping center.
Bohemian: So what's with the naked ladies?
Wine Guerrilla: We didn't ask [artist Sean Colgin] for that theme, but we knew his style and thought it would fit with our overall marketing. Sean grew up with five sisters, and always seems to paint women.
Bohemian: You only make Zinfandel. So why not, you know, Zin Guerrilla?
WG: It started as a brokerage, to help local wineries get their wines to market. I was reading about 'guerrilla marketing' at the time; it just sounded good to me.
Bohemian: Do you have any plans for a fancy tasting room, set amidst the vineyards, etcetera?
WG: Uh, no.
Wine Guerrilla founder Bruce Patch left the L.A. music business before the internet liberated it, and took up a second career in wine sales. His 2007 vintage (made at David Coffaro Winery) put him on the map at the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers Grand Tasting, where Patch handed out temporary tattoos emblazoned with a red star, an irresistible lick-and-stick accessory that loosened-up winetasters just had to have.
At 7,000 cases, the 2009 Sonoma County Zinfandel ($15) is the big ticket; when the sandalwood dust settles, aromas of plum, blueberry compote, baking spices lead to a fine-grained finish, rich with chewy fruit. The 170-case 2009 Dry Creek Valley, Adel's Vineyard ($30) comes on with typical strawberry and raspberry jam aromas, cracked coriander and sage, then each gorgeous sip of tart, plum syrup flavor inspires the next.
With exotic aromas of pomace, Hoisin sauce and crushed peanuts, the 2009 Russian River Valley, Clopton Vineyard ($35) has a long-lingering mu shu plum finish. Coyly camouflaged in summer flowers, the 2009 Russian River Valley, Conte Vineyard ($30) belies a dark, Petite Sirah–like aroma of black plums, bread pudding, chocolate and raisins; dried cherry pestled with purple pigment and iron pass across the palate like a slow-moving train. I'd say that some of these screw-capped but surprisingly serious Zins would be worthy of cellaring, but that would be so bourgeois.