Though it clocks in at a heady 15.1 percent alcohol, the Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards “Knotty Vines” Zinfandel 2008, carrying a Northern Sonoma designation, does not come across as a blockbuster. In fact, it not only feels fairly mild-mannered but impresses with its balance and subtlety. True to its nickname, the wine is rather “knotty” in the dusty, slightly woody briery and brambly sense. Some of the grapes here derive from 15 acres of vines planted in 1904 on the west side of the Russian River that Rodney Strong (1928-2006) acquired when he was first buying vineyards in the 1960s. The “Knotty Vines” Zinfandel 2008 includes 1 percent each of syrah and merlot — merlot? — and aged 17 months in American oak barrels (62%) and French oak (38%). The color is medium ruby with a magenta sheen. Aromas of spiced and macerated black and red currants, black pepper, leather and a hint of bitter chocolate waft from the glass; in the mouth, the wine offers black and red fruit flavors with a tincture of mulberry threaded with touches of cloves and tobacco, all ensconced in moderately dense, chewy tannins, acidity so pert that it practically glistens, and an oak influence that turns slightly austere on the finish, an appropriately grown-up rounding-off. What this wine is blessedly NOT is over-ripe, stridently spicy or sweet/hot with alcohol. The winemaker is veteran Rick Sayre. Drink now to 2012 or ’13. This would be very nice with the Thanksgiving feast. Excellent. About $20.

A sample for review.