We did a Zinfandel blind tasting recently, a departure for most of us
that rarely drink zins (although I have been a long time fan).
First wine was a starter, not in theme.
2009 Vincent Raimbault Vouvray – initial impression was sulphur and
more sulphur, but it did slowly blow off leaving some melon in its
wake. Sweetish entry but OK acidity. so so.
1979 Monterey Peninsula Winery Wilpete Farms Willow Creek Zinfandel
(13.9% - I figured that I’d fool them and bring a really venerable
bottle that I’d picked up in the early 80s at the winery when I’d been
down in Monterey racing old sports cars. Well, it wasn’t really at
the winery, it was at a small sales room off the main road where all
sorts of things were sold. I recall standing next to a rather large
(and loud) lady at the tasting room bar. We were tasting through a
range of single vineyard low production zins. She said (well, more
bellowed) that the ‘Monterey Nights’ (or whatever forgettable name it
was called) red wine she’d just tasted was ‘Damned fine” and that
she’d buy a gallon jug…..
This wine was huge when young and needed many years to become
drinkable. I’d opened a bottle a few years ago and it was corked, so I
crossed my fingers and tried my last one. The wine was almost pinot
noir in colour, although without the brick tinge normally found with
mature pinots. The mature nose had some spice interest. The wine slid
across the tongue smoothly (as, I suppose, had the Monterey Nights,
come to that, but I refrained from finding out back in the day), and
had lost all tannin, but retained some cassis flavour and medium
length. Everyone pretty much liked it.
2007 Peter Franus Napa Zin – instant blueberries in the glass, sweet
entry, soft and long (not the desired combination for every occasion…)
finishing sweet. Vanilla was the one note that pretty much dominated
this. Not a big fan.
1997 Turley Old Vines Zin – the first of a string of Turleys, this one
is the blended version and it ultimately failed to impress me,
although I immediately (perhaps more luck than skill) said ‘Turley?’
as soon as I smelled it. Very ripe raspberry fruit nose clean on
palate with pretty good balance and length but something not quite
right in the middle. May just be getting to old? 15.1%
1997 Turley Duarte Zin (Contra Costa County) – I had to pull this out
(my back up bottle) when the first one appeared. Medium colour (as
have a lot of these wines at this age), big earthy bramble/blackberry
nose with some white pepper and spice that followed through on palate.
several rungs up from the Old Vines. 15.5%
1997 Turley Dogtown Zin (Lodi) – perhaps the most pleasurable of the
three with a fairly sweet berry fruit nose, spicy balanced middle, and
long soft finish.
2007 Hendry Block 24 Primitivo – dusty fruit nose with hints of anise,
huge concentration on palate, and quite sweet. Not sure if this is
going to improve or if it is as good as it will get. Not my style.
Presumably used the Primitivo label in an attempt to attract
2007 Scherrer Old and Mature Zin (Alexander Valley) – on the other
hand, this IS my style of zin. A Rhone/earthy element in the nose and
more raspberry fruit, nicely rounded and sweet on palate with very
decent finish. Nice wine.
1995 Rosenblum Late Harvest Zin – sweet simple nose, with
concentration overwhelming any complexity, very sweet in the mouth,
pleasant, and with the fruit settling in as red rather than black
after a bit. Not bad – I could almost but not quite forgive them for
using the same sort of foo-foo tall, small diameter half size bottle
that many of our BC wineries use for their hyped up so called ice
wines. If you want a zin to serve in little chocolate cups, this is
it. Also not my style of zin, and a waste of grapes that might
otherwise have been used in a decent dry wine.
I preferred some of the old Shenandoah zins that were often high
proof, less sweet, but came across as better more interesting zin
based dessert wines, or Andrew Quady’s older ‘Ports’ before he went
away from zin and into port varietals (I recall a 1978 Lot 2 that was
particularly memorable.) Heck, I probably prefer Ficklin to the
Rosenblum, although I haven’t tasted their product recently.
Mixed but very interesting bag.