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State of Zinfandel 2012: ZAP Grand Tasting

2012 January 30

ZAP2012 016

2012 ZAP: GRAND TASTING AND K&L TASTING – The Concourse, San Francisco, and K&L, Redwood City, California (1/20/2012-1/28/2012)

This was my first time attending the annual grand tasting of the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers’ Zinfandel festival. This was the event’s 21st year. I found it a tremendously well organized gathering, especially from the standpoint of a media representative, thanks to the terrific program booklet, helpful lists of the producers arranged by different categories, and four-hour tasting window for trade and media before the public portion of the event. I also appreciated the quiet room they set aside, lined with one or two bottle samples from almost every producer, to which media could adjourn and taste at their own pace once the main floor got quite crowded by mid-afternoon.

All the prior participants I spoke with were delighted with the event’s move this year from Fort Mason to the Concourse Convention Center. The new venue has more space, is carpeted (cutting down on the noise level), has easy access along the side for producers for set up, and is in a more convenient location in the City, with better rapid transit and parking access.

In the almost seven-hour time period I had for tasting at Saturday’s event (I took out about 20 minutes to scarf down a sandwich), I managed to sample 216 wines, 213 of them Zins or Zin blends. The preceding week, at a tasting event with several ZAP producers at K&L, I’d tasted an additional 14 Zins, so my tasting notes below comprise a total of 227 Zins and Zin blends between the two events, from a total of 132 producers.

Some of the highlights for me included Zinfandels from Italy (Accademia dei Racemi) and South Africa (Blaauwklippen), and extremely old vine Zins from Bedrock, Limerick Lane, Puccioni and Vino Noceto. The producers responsible for at least one wine that I rated 91 points or higher were Bedrock, Black Sears, Bucklin, Carol Shelton, Charter Oak, Collier Falls, Deerfield Ranch, Gamba, JC Cellars, Limerick Lane, Mauritson/Rockpile Winery, Ottimino, Outpost, Puccioni, Ravenswood, Ridge, Robert Biale, Storybook Mountain, Tofanelli, Turley, Vino Noceto and Woodenhead.

The most outstanding wines of the tasting, for me, wines that I rated 92 points or higher, were:
2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine – 93 points
2010 Bedrock Wine Co. The Bedrock Heirloom – 92 points
2009 Black Sears Winery Zinfandel Estate – 93+ points
2006 Black Sears Winery Zinfandel Estate – 92 points
2007 Carol Shelton Wines Zinfandel Wild Thing Cox Vineyard – 92 points
2009 Charter Oak Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard – 93 points
2009 Limerick Lane Zinfandel Block 1910 – 93+ points
2010 Mauritson Wines Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley – 93 points
2010 Rockpile Winery (Mauritson) Zinfandel Westphall Ridge Vineyard – 92+ points
2010 Rockpile Winery (Mauritson) Zinfandel Rockpile Ridge Vineyards – 93 points
2009 Ottimino Zinfandel Ottimino Vineyard – 92 points
2009 Puccioni Zinfandel Old Vine – 92 points
2007 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch – 92+ points
2008 Vino Noceto Zinfandel OGP Grandpère Vineyard – 92+ points
2007 Vino Noceto Zinfandel OGP Grandpère Vineyard – 93 points
2009 Woodenhead Zinfandel Braccialini – 92 points

The range in quality was much wider than I find in the typical large scale tasting. Besides the excellent wines listed above, and many that were nearly as good, or just a notch or two below, I found several wines that were virtually impossible to drink, and many that were very high in alcohol, low in acidity and/or dominated by oak, causing me to score them in the low 80s to mid-70s.

I know that it is hard to grow Zinfandel, in part because individual grapes tend to ripen at very different rates. It seems clear from a tasting like this that it is not so easy to make very good Zinfandel either. I applaud the producers who manage to do so, crafting complex and intensely flavorful wines, often from very old, extremely low yielding vines.

For more details on some of the producers, and my complete tasting notes and scores, see below.

Accademia dei Racemi

2012 ZAP
This winery in Puglia has Primitivo vines that are 30-40 years old. Their wines had the highest acidity of any I tried at the grand tasting, along with a distinctive note of honey on the nose. They were probably among the lowest in alcohol too, at 13%.

Alderbrook

  • 2007 Alderbrook Zinfandel Three Goose – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    1st bottle corked
    2nd bottle – ripe black fruit, berry nose; oaky, black fruit palate; medium finish (81 pts.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards

Amphora

  • 2008 Amphora Zinfandel – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    Focused berry, ripe black fruit nose; baked black fruit, tar palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Ancient Peaks

  • 2009 Ancient Peaks Zinfandel – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    Tar, herbal nose; tar, black fruit, anise palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Artezin

  • 2010 Artezin Zinfandel Mendocino County – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County (1/28/2012)
    Roasted black fruit nose; roasted black fruit palate; medium finish (w/10% Petite Sirah, 1% Carignan) (83 pts.)

Austin Hope

B.R. Cohn

  • 2009 B.R. Cohn Zinfandel – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Tart black fruit, iodine nose; tart black fruit, iodine palate; medium finish (86 pts.)

Baldwin

Ballentine

Barefoot

  • NV Barefoot Cellars Zinfandel – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi (1/28/2012)
    Oak, stewed nose; weak, oaky, dried fig, cold tea palate; medium finish (65 pts.)

Bedrock

I previously wrote here about the remarkable wines being made by Morgan Twain Peterson under this label, including very complex and ageworthy Zins from very old vineyards. Morgan, whose father is Ravenswood’s Joel Peterson, sources Zin from great heritage vineyards like Monte Rosso and his family’s own Bedrock Vineyard. These are truly outstanding Zins, which should age into burnished beauties, much like Ridge’s best Zins.

  • 2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Lovely, redolent, plum, wild berry nose; tart wild berry, tart black cherry palate with grip; needs 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (from vines planted from 1880 to 1918; 22% new French oak) (93 pts.)
  • 2010 Bedrock Wine Co. The Bedrock Heirloom – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Dark purple red violet color; tart berry, black fruit, light herbs nose; tight, tasty, balanced, tart berry, tart black fruit palate; needs 3 years; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)

Beekeeper

2012 ZAP
Ian Blackburn, the highly energetic entrepreneur behind L.A.’s very successful Learn About Wine (LearnAboutWine.com), is now making his own wine under this label with the help of Mauritson’s Clay Mauritson. The ’09 we tasted is his very first vintage. The wine boasts delicious, ripe Rockpile fruit, but I would like to see a little more acidity and a gentler use of new oak in this very high priced offering. At $60, it was one of the most expensive bottlings of the day. Nonetheless, Ian and Clay are a formidable team, and I am sure that this new label will find a following.

  • 2009 Beekeeper Cellars Zinfandel Madrone Spring – USA, California, Sonoma County, Rockpile (1/28/2012)
    Dark purple red violet color; intense, blackberry, dark chocolate, honeycomb nose; plush, ripe blackberry, mulberry, honeyed palate with lowish acidity; medium-plus finish (81% Zinfandel, 19% Petite Sirah; 15 mos. in French and American oak) (90 pts.)

Bella

Benessere

Berryessa Gap

Blaauwklippen

2012 ZAP
This was my very first Zinfandel from South Africa, where there is precious little Zin to be found. The wines are made from 35-year-old vines, thought to have been brought to the country from Italy. They have also purchased some vines from California in recent years, which should be going into production soon. The nose on the dry Zin was most unusual and savory, and reminded me more than any wine I’ve ever smelled of one of my favorite Spanish treats, pata negra.

  • 2007 Blaauwklippen Zinfandel – South Africa, Coastal Region (1/28/2012)
    Intriguing, smoke, savory, oregano, pata negra nose; tight, tart berry, savory, smoke palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (from 35 yr old vines thought to have been brought from Italy; 14 mos. in 225 litre oak) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Blaauwklippen Zinfandel Noble Late Harvest – South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch (1/28/2012)
    From 375 ml – redolent, tart berry, anise, baked black fruit nose; tasty, sweet, baked black fruit, baked berry, herbs palate; long finish 90+ points (90 grams RS; 10% alcohol) (90 pts.)

Black Rock

  • 2008 Black Rock Wine Works Zinfandel – USA, California, North Coast, Lake County (1/28/2012)
    Stewed black fruit nose; pepper, tart black fruit, savory palate; medium-plus finish 86+ points (86 pts.)

Black Sears

2012 ZAP
These are always remarkable, powerful, complex wines, with a distinctive black pepper note. In 1979, Joyce Black and Jerre Sears purchased land at the top of Howell Mountain. They were partners with Mike Beatty in Howell Mountain Vineyards before selling the HMV label in order to focus on the Black Sears project. They farm the vineyards organically and biodynamically. They have 17 dry farmed acres of Zinfandel, planted in the ’70s with bud wood from the Hayne Vineyard, and six acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and small parcels of Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Black Sears’ Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon have gone into wines made by Robert Craig, Elyse, Schrader, T-Vine and Turley, among others. In 1997, the family started producing a few hundred cases per year under their own label. Their winemaker currently is Thomas Brown; the ’06 was made by the equally renowned Ted Lemon.

  • 2009 Black Sears Winery Zinfandel Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (1/28/2012)
    Baked black fruit, fig, pepper nose; powerful, tasty, black pepper, tart black fruit palate; needs 1-2 years; medium-plus finish 93+ points (93 pts.)
  • 2006 Black Sears Winery Zinfandel Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (1/28/2012)
    Tart black raspberry, tart black cherry nose; tasty, poised, tart black cherry, black raspberry, light pepper palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Black Sears Winery Zinfandel Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (1/28/2012)
    Barrel sample – briary, tart plum nose; tasty, briary, tart red plum, sage, oregano palate; medium-plus finish 91-93 points (91 pts.)

Bogle

Bonneau

  • 2008 Bonneau Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    Appealing, ripe black fruit, prune nose; tasty, ripe black fruit, prune palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Bonneau Zinfandel Rockpile – USA, California, Sonoma County, Rockpile (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, prune nose; ripe black fruit, prune palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Bonneau Zinfandel Egret – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, chocolate nose; ripe black fruit, fig palate; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)

Bota Box

  • 2010 Bota Box Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California (1/28/2012)
    From 3 liter box – stewed black fruit nose; stewed black fruit palate; short-medium finish (77 pts.)

Brazin

  • 2009 Brazin Zinfandel Old Vine Rockpile – USA, California, Sonoma County, Rockpile (1/28/2012)
    Focused ripe black fruit, French oak nose; ripe black fruit, licorice palate; medium finish 86+ points (86 pts.)

Brown Estate

  • 2010 Brown Estate Chaos Theory – USA, California, Napa Valley, Chiles Valley (1/28/2012)
    Tart black fruit, blackberry nose; tasty, velvety textured, ripe black fruit, plum, fig, cedar palate, somehow reminiscent of a super-ripe Pomerol; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Brown Estate Zinfandel Rosemary’s Block – USA, California, Napa Valley, Chiles Valley (1/28/2012)
    Tart black fruit, rosemary nose; ripe black fruit, ripe blackberry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Brutocao

  • 2007 Brutocao Zinfandel Reserve – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino (1/28/2012)
    Brett, ripe black fruit nose; bretty, black fruit palate; medium finish (78 pts.)

Bucklin

2012 ZAP

  • 2009 Bucklin Zinfandel Bambino Old Hill Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County (1/28/2012)
    Tart black fruit, ripe berry nose; ripe black fruit, ripe berry palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Bucklin Zinfandel Old Hill Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County (1/28/2012)
    Tart berry, tart black fruit nose; tart berry, tart black fruit, tart black prune palate; medium-plus finish (vines date from 1885) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Bucklin Mixed Blacks – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Tart berry, tar nose; tar, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Buena Vista

  • 2008 Buena Vista Zinfandel Arpad’s Selection – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Lifted, tart black fruit, herbs, tart blackberry nose; tart black fruit, herbs, tart blackberry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

C.G. di Arie

Calstar

Carlisle

  • 2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Berry sample – baked black fruit, stewed berry nose; baked black fruit, stewed berry, deep berry palate with oak edges; medium-plus finish 88-90 points (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Martinelli River Road Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Barrel sample – tart berry, herbs nose; tasty, dried herbs, tart black fruit, tar palate; medium-plus finish 90-92 points (90 pts.)

Carol Shelton

Sept 2012 112
Santa Rosa-based Carol’s been a winemaker for 30 years, and Zin is her favorite variety. I think her Wild Thing Cox Vineyard is a very good buy for about $19, made entirely with indigenous yeasts.

  • 2007 Carol Shelton Wines Zinfandel Wild Thing Cox Vineyard – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County (1/20/2012)
    Dark red violet color; intriguing, tart berry, tart raspberry nose; tasty, focused, balanced, tart raspberry, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish (great value at only about $19) (92 pts.)
  • 2007 Carol Shelton Wines Zinfandel Karma Zin Rue – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/20/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; baked berry, plum nose; maturing, tasty, ripe black fruit, berry palate; medium-plus finish (from 110 yr old vines) (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Carol Shelton Wines Zinfandel Monga Zin® Lopez Vineyard – USA, California, South Coast, Cucamonga Valley (1/20/2012)
    Dark red violet color; tart berry, light oak nose; youthful, tart berry, red fruit, light cinnamon palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Cedarville

Cellar No. 8

Chacewater

  • 2010 Chacewater Zinfandel – USA, California, Sierra Foothills (1/28/2012)
    Barrel sample – tart black fruit, stewed black fruit nose; ripe and stewed black fruit palate; medium finish 86-88 points (86 pts.)

Charter Oak

2012 ZAP
I’ve enjoyed Charter Oak’s Zins in the past, but the ’09 Monte Rosso is the best one yet. Robert Fanucci comes from a winemaking Italian-American family, but he didn’t try his hand at making wine until 1986, after losing his job at a securities firm. He relies on indigenous yeasts and attributes the special qualities of his wines to thrice daily punch downs using antique equipment inherited from his grandfather.

Chateau Montelena

  • 2009 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley (1/28/2012)
    Medium red violet color; intriguing, roasted berry nose with sweet green herb lift; tight, tart berry, oak, sweet green herb palate; needs 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2007 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley (1/28/2012)
    A little reticent, roasted berry, light mint nose; tight yet, tart roasted berry, tart black fruit palate; needs 1 year; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Chatom

  • 2007 Chatom Vineyards Zinfandel – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Calaveras County (1/28/2012)
    Lifted, ripe black fruit, blackberry nose; ripe blackberry, ripe black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (good version of the ripe style) (90 pts.)

Chronic

  • 2010 Chronic Cellars Mr. Nibbles – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    Baked black fruit, baked bean nose; baked black fruit, baked bean palate with low acidity; medium finish (65% Zinfandel, 15% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre, 5% Grenache) (83 pts.)

Claudia Springs

Cline

Collier Falls

These were remarkably good Zins in a very ripe style. Barry and Susan Collier launched Collier Falls after buying 20 acres of vineyards in the northwest corner of Dry Creek Valley from Ferrari-Carano in 1997. They planted the Primitivo vines that same year. I really like the unique mint and menthol notes on the Primitivo, and was impressed with the complexity of the Zin, which Barry said was less ripe than usual in 2008. The winemaker is Marco DiGulio, who came to Collier Falls from Lokoya. The wines see extended maceration and cold soaking. They are aged in a mix of French and American oak for 18 to 24 months.

  • 2008 Collier Falls Primitivo – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/20/2012)
    Medium dark red violet color; dried berry, menthol, mint nose; tart berry, herbs, mint, menthol, tart raspberry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (vines planted in ’97) (91 pts.)
  • 2007 Collier Falls Zinfandel Private Reserve – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/20/2012)
    Dark red violet color; intense, dried berry, berry, black fruit nose; tasty, complex, black fruit, dried berry, fig, lilac palate; medium-plus finish (very good for a ripe style) (91 pts.)

Cycles Gladiator

  • 2009 Cycles Gladiator Zinfandel Lodi – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi (1/28/2012)
    Baked berry, nutmeg nose; oaky, baked berry, nutmeg palate; medium-plus finish (78 pts.)

Cypher

  • 2009 Cypher Winery Zinfandel Dante Dusi – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, blackberry nose; rich, ripe blackberry, chocolate palate with low acidity; medium-plus finish (85 pts.)

D-Cubed

  • 2007 D-Cubed Zinfandel Korte Ranch – USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (1/28/2012)
    Focused, ripe black fruit, herbs nose; intense, ripe black fruit, sweet green herbs palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Dashe

2012 ZAP

De Loach

  • 2009 De Loach Zinfandel OFS – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Tart berry, tart black fruit nose; tart berry, tart black fruit palate, a little hot; medium finish (86 pts.)

Deep Purple

  • 2010 Deep Purple Zinfandel Lodi – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi (1/28/2012)
    Stewy black fruit nose; unpleasant, stewy black fruit palate; short-medium finish (58 pts.)

Deerfield Ranch

  • 2007 Deerfield Ranch Zinfandel – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Stewed berry nose; stewed berry, black licorice, tar palate; needs 2 years; long finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Deerfield Ranch Zinfandel White Perry – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Stewed berries, stewed plum nose; intense, stewed berry, stewed black fruit, iodine palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2007 Deerfield Ranch Zinfandel Old Vine Buchignani-Garcia Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    Appealing, tart plum, dried berry, tar nose; focused, tart plum, dried berry, tar, baked berry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Del Carlo

  • 2009 Del Carlo Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    1st bottle – baked black fruit, fig nose; nasty, mercaptan palate
    2nd bottle – oaky, stewed black fruit nose; mercaptans, frightening (50 pts.)

Della Costa

  • 2010 Della Costa Zinfandel Dancing Lady – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (1/28/2012)
    Black fruit nose; baked black fruit, extracted palate; medium finish 85+ points (85 pts.)

Dogwood

  • 2007 Dogwood Cellars Zinfandel – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County (1/28/2012)
    Oak, black fruit nose; ripe black fruit, blackberry, tart berry, currant palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Dono dal Cielo

  • 2007 Dono dal Cielo Zinfandel – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Placer County (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, berry nose; oaky, black fruit palate; medium finish (79 pts.)

Dry Creek Vineyard

Easton

  • 2009 Easton Zinfandel Estate – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, California Shenandoah Valley (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, jammy nose; oak, ripe black fruit, jammy palate; medium-plus finish (86 pts.)

Edmeades

  • 2007 Edmeades Winery Zinfandel Perli – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino Ridge (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, black fruit compote nose; ripe black fruit, black fruit compote palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Folie à Deux

Fontanella Family

Four Vines

  • 2009 Four Vines Zinfandel Sophisticate – USA, California, Sonoma County (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, stewed black fruit nose; ripe black fruit, stewed black fruit palate with heat; medium-plus finish (86 pts.)

Frank Family

  • 2009 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel – USA, California, Napa Valley (1/28/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; ripe berry compote, baked berry nose; medium-bodied, baked berry, baking spice palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Fritz

Gamba

2012 ZAP

  • 2009 Gamba Zinfandel Old Vine Gamba Estate Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Dark purple violet color; redolent, black fruit, blackberry nose; tasty, rich, black fruit, blackberry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Gamba Zinfandel Old Vine Moratto Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Baked black fruit, stewed plum, brambly nose; rich, tasty, tart black fruit, stewed black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 89+ points (planted 1920) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Gamba Zinfandel Russian River Valley – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Intense, baked berry, oak, baked plum nose; tasty, intense, tart plum, baked plum, oak palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Gann Family

  • 2007 Gann Family Cellars Zinfandel – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (1/28/2012)
    Smoky, roasted berry nose; oaky, smoky, black fruit palate; medium finish (75 pts.)

Gnarly Head

  • 2010 Gnarly Head Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi (1/28/2012)
    Tart black fruit nose; simple, tart black fruit, carbonic maceration palate; medium finish (82 pts.)

Gregory Graham

Grey Wolf

Guglielmo Family

Gustafson Family

Haraszthy Family

Harney Lane

  • 2009 Harney Lane Zinfandel Old Vine Lizzy James Vineyard – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi (1/28/2012)
    Stewed black fruit, stewed berry nose; stewed black fruit, stewed berry, apricot palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Harney Lane Zinfandel – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, chocolate nose; chocolate, prune, ripe black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Hartford

  • 2010 Hartford Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Prune, stewy nose; stewy black fruit, prune palate; medium-plus finish (86 pts.)

Headbanger

  • 2009 Headbanger Zinfandel – USA, California, North Coast, Napa / Sonoma (1/28/2012)
    Chocolate, fig nose; figgy palate; short-medium finish (76 pts.)

Hendry

  • 2009 Hendry Zinfandel Blocks 7 & 22 – USA, California, Napa Valley (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit nose; ripe black fruit, black fruit liqueur palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Hunt

  • 2007 Hunt Cellars Zinfandel Outlaw Ridge – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    Tart black fruit, tart berry, nutmeg nose; mulberry, baked berry, chocolate, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)

Ironstone

Jaxon Keys

JC Cellars

2012 ZAP

  • 2009 JC Cellars Zinfandel St. Peter’s Church Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (1/28/2012)
    Ripe plum nose; ripe black plum, ripe berry, oak palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2009 JC Cellars Zinfandel Iron Hill – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Lifted, lavender, tart black fruit nose; lavender, ripe black fruit palate; needs 2 years; medium-plus finish 90+ points (vineyard has a patch of lavender in the middle) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 JC Cellars Zinfandel Sweetwater Springs – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, violet nose; tight, ripe black fruit, violet palate; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish (w/15% Petite Sirah) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 JC Cellars Zinfandel Dusi Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, blueberry nose; rich, ripe black fruit, blueberry palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2009 JC Cellars The Impostor – USA, California (1/28/2012)
    Tart black fruit, oak nose; tart black fruit, oak, lead pencil palate; medium finish (83 pts.)

J. Dusi

  • 2009 J. Dusi Zinfandel Dante Dusi Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    Light oak, raisin, clove nose; tight, clove, black fruit palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2009 J. Dusi Fiorento – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    Clove, black fruit, raisin nose; raisin, black fruit, clove palate; medium-plus finish (50% Zinfandel, 25% Carignane, 25% Syrah) (88 pts.)
  • 2007 J. Dusi Zinfandel Haute Haute Haute Dante Dusi Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    From 375 ml – boysenberry, blackberry compote nose; sweet, baked berry, boysenberry palate, a little hot; long finish (87 pts.)

Joel Gott

  • 2009 Joel Gott Zinfandel – USA, California (1/28/2012)
    Stewed plum, stewed berry nose; oak, jammy, stewed plum, fig jam palate; medium-plus finish (83 pts.)
  • 2009 Joel Gott Zinfandel – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County (1/28/2012)
    Focused, black fruit, tar, stewed black fruit nose; oak, stewed black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (85 pts.)

Kenneth Volk

  • 2009 Kenneth Volk Zinfandel Enz Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Lime Kiln Valley (1/28/2012)
    Baked black fruit, licorice nose; baked black fruit, baked berry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Klinker Brick

  • 2009 Klinker Brick Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, herbs nose; ripe black fruit, rosemary, pepper palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Limerick Lane

2012 ZAP
I am indebted to Doug Wilder for alerting me that the new Limerick Lane Zins, starting with the ’09 vintage, were worth checking out. The winery was sold last year to Jake and Alexis Bilbro. Jake, pictured above, is head of sales and marketing for Marietta Cellars, where his brother Scot is assistant winemaker. Scot is the new winemaker for Limerick Lane. Together Jake and Scot have selected blocks of old vines for these special bottlings, and the 1910 bottling, especially, was spectacular.

  • 2009 Limerick Lane Zinfandel Block 1970 – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Appealing, baked berry, black cherry nose; oak, baked berry, baking spice palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Limerick Lane Zinfandel Block 1934 – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Dark purple red violet color; baked berry, stewed black fruit nose; tasty, baked berry, baked black raspberry palate with depth; long finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Limerick Lane Zinfandel Block 1910 – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Dark purple red violet color; intriguing, deep, berry, dried berry, wild berry nose; tasty, tart wild berry, dried berry, sense of salinity, dried black fig palate; long finish 93+ points (93 pts.)

Mauritson/Rockpile Winery

2012 ZAP
I profiled Clay and his family’s vineyard in part III of my report on a visit last year to Zinfandel’s Mecca, Dry Creek Valley. The Mauritson family has been growing grapes in Dry Creek Valley since 1868. Clay’s great-great-great grandfather, S.P. Hallengren, was a pioneer grape grower in the Rockpile region, where he first planted vines in 1884. He shipped all his wine back to his native Sweden. The family’s Rockpile homestead and ranch grew to 4,000 acres by the early 1960s when all but 700 ridge top acres was taken by the Army Corps of Engineers to develop Lake Sonoma. The family currently manages 310 vineyard acres in the Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and Rockpile appellations. It was Clay who got the family into making wine when he returned after graduating the University of Oregon in 1997. His first vintage under the Mauritson label was with a Dry Creek Zin in 1998. He worked in sales and marketing at Kenwood Vineyards for five years. He started making wine full time under the Mauritson and Rockpile labels in 2002 after having also worked under the winemakers at Taft Street Vineyards and Dry Creek Vineyards. I have very much enjoyed his wines, including a powerful Petite Sirah and a Bordeaux blend called Buck Pasture. These Zins were easily among the best of the day.

Mazzocco

McCay

Milliaire

Miro

  • 2010 Miro Zinfandel Grist Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    Baked black fruit nose; baked black fruit, plum sauce palate; medium finish (84 pts.)

MoniClaire

Montevina/Terra d’Oro

Mounts Family

  • 2009 Mounts Family Winery Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    Herbs, tart black fruit nose; tart black fruit, sweet green herbs palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Murphy-Goode

Novy

  • 2010 Novy Zinfandel Ellsbree – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Focused, tart plum nose; tart plum, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Opolo

  • 2010 Opolo Zinfandel Reserve – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    Lifted, ripe black fruit, ripe blackberry nose; ripe black fruit, ripe blackberry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Ottimino

  • 2008 Ottimino Zinfandel Zinfinity – USA, California, Sonoma County (1/20/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; ripe berry, plum nose; simple, berry, ripe plum palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2007 Ottimino Zinfandel Rancho Bello – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/20/2012)
    Dark red violet color; focused, berry, black fruit nose; tasty, tart black fruit, berry, light oak palate with low acidity; medium finish 88+ points (from 10-15 yr old vines) (88 pts.)
  • 2007 Ottimino Zinfandel Little 8 Von Weidlich – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/20/2012)
    Dark ruby color; intriguing berry, blackberry, vanilla, black fruit nose; tasty, blackberry, black fruit, vanilla palate with lowish acidity; medium-plus finish (from 30 yr old vines) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Ottimino Zinfandel Rancho Bello – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Redolent, baked berry, stewed plum nose; tasty, stewed black fruit, berry palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Ottimino Zinfandel Little 8 Ottimino Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Intriguing, dried berry, subtle herbs, black fruit nose; complex, tasty, tart black fruit, herbs, tar palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Ottimino Zinfandel Biglieri Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    Barrel sample – intriguing, lifted, tart berry, dried berry, subtle spice nose; tasty, tart berry, subtle spice, baking spice palate; medium-plus finish 91-93 points (50 yr old vines) (91 pts.)
  • 2007 Ottimino Zinfandel Windsor Oaks – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/20/2012)
    Dark ruby color; ripe berry, baked berry, light caramel, baking spice nose; plush, baked berry, caramel, baking spice palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Outpost

  • 2010 Outpost Zinfandel – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (1/28/2012)
    Barrel sample – appealing, lifted, berry compote, stewed berries nose; tasty, rich but poised, baked berries, baked black fruit, baking spice palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

Pech Merle

Pedroncelli

Proulx

Puccioni

2012 ZAP
I previously profiled Puccioni in part I of my report on last year’s visit to Dry Creek Valley. Starting with the 2007 vintage, the Puccioni wines are based on grapes grown on Glenn Proctor’s family’s ranch, where his great grandfather, Angelo Puccioni, who came to the area from the small village of Coselli, Italy, first planted Zinfandel in 1904. The ranch sits in a small valley with up slopes on each side. The elevations go from 400 to 1000 feet. The vineyards are planted on the west facing slopes. The hillside vineyards are planted to old clone Zinfandel, on St George and 1103 Rootstock, largely head trained. The ranch’s 15 acres of vines are largely Zin, and a field blend in the old vine vineyard planted in 1904. One acre is planted to Alicante Bouchet and another to Petite Sirah. I like their Petite Sirah as well. This old vine Zin is worth tracking down.

  • 2009 Puccioni Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    Lovely, floral, ripe raspberry nose; tasty, complex, ripe raspberry, tart berry palate; could use 2 years; medium-plus finish (from vines planted starting in 1904) (92 pts.)

Rancho San Miguel

Rancho Zabaco

Ravenswood

2012 ZAP
Joel Peterson learned winemaking working with Joseph Swan. He launched his Ravenswood label in 1976, but continued working his day job in the lab at Sonoma Valley Hospital until 1992. He has been tremendously influential in helping to promote Zin as the source of serious, powerful wines. He was also so successful at making wine that people wanted to buy that the company was selling 440,000 cases a year by the time Joel and his partner sold the label to Constellation Brands in 2001. Joel has continued to oversee production. For a large production winery, these are remarkably good wines.

  • 2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel Dickerson – USA, California, Napa Valley (1/28/2012)
    Stewed black fruit, plum nose; tart plum, black fruit, berry palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel Big River – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (1/28/2012)
    Baked plum, fig nose; tasty, fig, baked plum, stewed berry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel Belloni – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Baked black fruit, caramel, light chocolate nose; tasty, caramel, baked berry palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Ravenswood Icon – USA, California, Sonoma County (1/28/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; nice tart berry, tart black fruit nose; tasty, rich but poised, tart black fruit, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (blend of Zin, Petite Sirah, Carignane and Alicante Bouschet) (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel Barricia – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Baked berry, stewed berry nose; tasty, stewed and baked berry palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (with 28% Petite Sirah) (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel Teldeschi – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    Baked berry, baked plum nose; tasty, baked plum, berry palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Hill – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/28/2012)
    Poised berry, baked berry nose; tasty, ripe berry, baked berry, ripe black fruit, clove palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Ridge

  • 2009 Ridge Zinfandel Ponzo Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/20/2012)
    Dark ruby color; lifted, baked cherry, raspberry, rhubarb pie nose; approachable, baked cherry, graham cracker crust, cherry syrup palate; medium-plus finish (with 2% Petite Sirah) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Ridge Zinfandel York Creek – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (1/20/2012)
    Dark ruby color; baked berry, graham cracker crust nose; tight, baked berry, ripe berry, graham cracker crust, oak palate; needs 1-plus year; medium-plus finish 91+ points (with 7% Petite Sirah) (91 pts.)
  • 2007 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (1/20/2012)
    Dark red violet color; appealing, ripe cherry, ripe raspberry, vanilla oak nose; tasty poised, ripe berry, baked berry, black cherry palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (with 5% Alicante Bouschet and 3% Petite Sirah) (92 pts.)

Robert Biale

These are always remarkable wines–ripe and powerful, but also complex and balanced. The Biale family have been growing Zinfandel since 1937. The winery currently owns and farms 24 acres of vineyards, which supplies about 30% of the grapes for their wines. The winemaker is Steve Hall.

  • 2010 Robert Biale Zinfandel R.W. Moore Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley (1/28/2012)
    Ripe berry, brambly, tart black fruit nose; tasty, poised, balanced, tart black fruit, tar, anise palate; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)
  • 2010 Robert Biale Zinfandel Black Chicken – USA, California, Napa Valley (1/28/2012)
    Redolent, dried berry, briary, light pepper nose; tasty, sweet, tart black fruit, dried berry, black raspberry palate with a sense of herbs; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Robert Biale Zinfandel Party Line – USA, California, Napa Valley (1/28/2012)
    Medium dark purple red violet color; redolent, wild berries, black cherry nose; tasty, poised, black cherry, wild berries, dried herbs palate; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)

Rock Wall

Rosenblum

Saddleback

  • 2009 Saddleback Cellars Zinfandel Old Vines – USA, California, Napa Valley (1/28/2012)
    Lifted, ripe black fruit, blackberry nose; concentrated, ripe black fruit, blackberry, licorice palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Scott Harvey

Seghesio Family

Sobon Estate

  • 2010 Sobon Estate Zinfandel Old Vines – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County (1/28/2012)
    Oaky, ripe black fruit nose; ripe black fruit, oak palate; medium-plus finish (w/3% Petite Sirah) (84 pts.)
  • 2009 Sobon Estate Zinfandel Rocky Top – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County (1/28/2012)
    VA, tart berry, fig nose; tart berry palate, a little hot; medium-plus finish (83 pts.)

Soda Rock

  • 2009 Soda Rock Winery Zinfandel Wentworth – USA, California, Sonoma County (1/28/2012)
    Tart black fruit, oak nose; oak, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (6% Petite Sirah) (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Soda Rock Winery Zinfandel – USA, California, Sonoma County, Rockpile (1/28/2012)
    Ripe plum, baking spice nose; baked berry, baking spice, baked black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Spenker

St. Amant

Starry Night

  • 2009 Starry Night Zinfandel Old Vine Nervo Station – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (1/28/2012)
    Deep violet, ripe berry nose; sweet, violet, ripe berry, blueberry palate; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)
  • 2007 Starry Night Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/28/2012)
    Ripe berry, violet, blueberry nose; ripe berry, violet, blueberry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Steele/Shooting Star

Stonehedge

Storybook Mountain

Talty

2012 ZAP

  • 2008 Talty Winery Zinfandel – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (1/28/2012)
    Tart black fruit, salty prune nose; tart black fruit, salty prune palate; medium-plus finish (w/7% Petite Sirah, 3% Carignane; 40 yr old vines) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Talty Winery Zinfandel Filice Connolly – USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (1/28/2012)
    Deep, herbal, tart black fruit, chocolate nose; herbal, tart black fruit, salty prune, tart chocolate palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (65 yr old vines) (90 pts.)

The Chancellor of Zin

The Federalist

Tin Barn

Tofanelli Family

Trader Moon/Old Moon

Trentadue

Tres Sabores

Turley

  • 2009 Turley Zinfandel Dogtown Vineyard – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi (1/28/2012)
    VA, tart plum nose; tart plum, tart black fruit, baked plum palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Turley Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (1/28/2012)
    Barrel sample – intriguing, stewed plum, baked berry nose; tasty, complex, baked berry, stewed plum palate; medium-plus finish 90-92+ points (90 pts.)

Valdez Family

Van Ruiten

Victor Hugo

  • 2009 Victor Hugo Zinfandel – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (1/28/2012)
    Ripe black fruit, plum nose; black fruit, tar palate; medium finish 85+ points (85 pts.)

Villa Toscano

Vino Noceto

Sept 2012 042
Vino Noceto is a project started by owners Jim and Suzy Gullett focusing primarily on Italian varieties, especially Sangiovese inspired by Chianti Classico. The winemaker is Rusty Folena. Their Zin bottling is from the ancient 19-acre Grandpère Vineyard, documented as the longest producing Zin vineyard in the country, planted in 1868 with the oldest known clone of Zin in the United States. These are remakably complex and balanced wines that seem like a comparative bargain at $29.

  • 2008 Vino Noceto Zinfandel OGP Grandpère Vineyard – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County (1/20/2012)
    Medium dark ruby color; rich berry, ripe cherry, blackberry, toast nose; tasty, tart berry, ripe cherry, blackberry palate with toast from integrating oak; medium-plus finish 92+ points (from vines dating back to the 1860s) (92 pts.)
  • 2007 Vino Noceto Zinfandel OGP Grandpère Vineyard – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County (1/20/2012)
    Medium dark ruby color; focused, tart berry, herb, toast nose; tasty, balanced, complex, baked berry, toast, black raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (a terrific old vine Zin for $30; from vines dating back to the 1860s) (93 pts.)

Woodenhead

2012 ZAP
I’ve been following Nikolai Stez’s career for a long time. He was assistant winemaker at Williams-Selyem before launching his own label. He makes delicious Pinots, Syrahs and Zins. I was very sorry to hear that the vines that were the source of the tasty Braccialini bottling were ripped out this year. Pictured on the right is Nick’s business partner Zina Bower, and on the left is her buddy Erin, who also happens to be a longtime friend of mine.

17 Responses leave one →
  1. January 31, 2012

    Great recap of Zinfest Richard…comprehensive, and well documented as always. I do truly admire your talent and discipline!

  2. Larry Stein permalink
    January 31, 2012

    Sorry Richard, as much as I respect your palate, you can’t possibly understand all the facets of Zin in a setting like this. The relatively restrained styles will not show well. Producers such as Seghesio (specifically Home Ranch, of which I’ve had several lovely, older examples) and Dashe weren’t reviewed as favorably as the Turley-esque styled wines. Not a fair fight, IMO.

    Then again, you know my palate and the last thing I’d want to do wine-wise is spend several hours slogging through all that swill to get to a couple of gems. 😉

    • Richard Jennings permalink*
      January 31, 2012

      Larry,
      A setting like ZAP is hardly the only time that I taste these wines, and is not the only occasion on which I try to “understand all the facets of Zin.” That’s an ongoing job. I also prep for major tastings like this, and I have tasted both Seghesio and Dashe before on a number of occasions, in different settings. I respect both producers, and tasted through everything they poured, hoping what I tasted would sing to me more than they did. I want all the wines I taste to show well, but my notes honestly reflect what I’m getting from the wines.

      I know you’re a big fan of Dashe, and I respect what Michael does. The latest offerings, however, simply didn’t impress me as much as wines from other producers that I rated higher. That said, I did rate most of his wines 89 to 90+ points, which is not a bad rating for me. And as far as “Turley-esque” wines receiving higher ratings from me, you may note that I rated the only finished Turley Zin at the tasting 89 points.
      –Richard

  3. January 31, 2012

    Happy to see a shout out to Accademia dei Racemi! I’ve been writing about their wine for years. Their style of concentrated primitivo, and not the sickly sweet versions coming from Puglia, is the face of Pugliese primitivo. It’s so freakin’ unique I can’t help but get excited when I think of it. Thanks for the report.

  4. January 31, 2012

    Thanks for the review Richard – wow – prolific!

    Congrats on being named to the top 100 most influential writers – your discipline is inspiring!
    25,000 reviews on Cellartracker – no wonder I keep finding your notes in my cellar :).

    My http://www.Beekeepercellars.com appreciates your review – I’m glad you liked it.
    I have been involved in premium Zinfandel for the past 15 years and finally decided to bottle my own… and only know one way to do things.

    “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time… when are you going to have time to do it again?” RIP John Wooden.

    I look forward to you tasting future vintages… we are putting a huge effort into this project and making something very special for the betterment of the entire Zinfandel Marketplace – we hope.

    Beekeeper appreciates your notes and solid score.

  5. February 1, 2012

    Richard – this is by far the best and most comprehensive coverage of ZAP I have ever seen. Wow! Really well done.

    You are doing your readers a serious service. I hope they appreciate the amount of time you have put into thoughtfully reviewing all of these wines. As a vintner, I know I do!

    Keep up the great work my friend.

    Cheers,

    Bill Smart
    Dry Creek Vineyard

    • Richard Jennings permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      Bill,
      Thank you for your very kind words. I really appreciate it.
      Warm regards,
      Richard

  6. Dave Pramuk permalink
    February 1, 2012

    Richard,

    Kudos to you for taking the time to do it right. You have provided some much needed insight into a commonly misunderstood and underappreciated wine. Impressive indeed.
    Congratulations also on your recent recognition on the top 100 wine people list.

    Dave Pramuk
    C0-Founder
    Robert Biale Vineyards.

    • Richard Jennings permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      Dave,
      Thank you for the kind words and congratulations. I am always delighted to taste Robert Biale’s wines, and I started with them Saturday as my benchmark. I hope you’ll be on hand for the upcoming Petite Sirah event as well.
      Warm regards,
      Richard

  7. February 1, 2012

    Richard,

    WOW……..what an article. For someone who is generally “stuck” behind the table at great events like ZAP, it was awesome to read your in depth report. There were a number of new wineries that I had never heard of and will now search out, and it’s always great to read about the Zinfandel pioneers. Thank you very much for your generous reviews of our 2010 Zins, keep up the great work!

    Cheers,

    Clay

    • Richard Jennings permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      Clay,
      It was great to see you, and to taste those awesome Zins as well. I’m glad the post introduced you to some new wineries.
      Keep up the great work yourself,
      Richard

  8. Michelle McCue permalink
    February 2, 2012

    Thanks for the great rundown on ZAP, Richard. Very comprehensive coverage – found myself comparing notes with you on the ones I tasted, and regreting that I missed some of the producers you’ve now made me curious about. Ottimino, Puccioni, Mauritson, Talty, Ridge – yes, yes, yes! I was surprised, though, by how underwhelmed I was by some of the big, big names in Zin. No names, but found a few to be waaay too ripe and over-the-top RS. Ah well, it’s a style many like. Thanks again for the great tasting notes. Wine-searcher, here I come to find the ones I missed!

  9. February 2, 2012

    Well done Richard. After missing this for the first time in a decade, your trusted comments are a worthy replacement…..plus I’m jealous nkt have not enjoyed the new location after the gulag-like pavilions of the past. I think we’ll pop a magnum of ’96 Biale Old Crane to celebrate Zin season.

    BTW, any notes on The Terraces?

  10. February 2, 2012

    Richard,

    Wow, quite the undertaking! I’m pleased that you enjoyed my wine.

    Best,

    Michael S. Adair
    Owner/Winemaker
    Rancho San Miguel Winery
    www. rsmwinery.com

  11. Steve Brickley permalink
    February 27, 2012

    Thank you for the notes. I ordered and tried the 09′ Limerick Lane 1910 Block Zin. It is everything you mentioned. A wonderful wine of generous fruit without being jammy. It reminded me of the late 1970’s Ridge Fiddletown Zins. Great recommendation.

  12. February 29, 2012

    Steve Brickley,
    Thank you for giving our wine a try and I’m glad you enjoyed the 1910 Block. The comparison to Ridge humbles me. (I’ve never had the pleasure of trying the 70′ Fiddletown Zins as that was before I was born but Ridge in my opinion is one of the greatest producers of Zinfandel in California’s history.) -I can’t think of a higher compliment.
    Richard,
    I appreciate your taking the time to taste our wines and I hope to cross paths with you again at some point. I’d love to show you what else we are doing here at Limerick Lane. The Block Series Zins are a good example but there is more in the works that will be released soon.
    All the best.

    Jake Bilbro
    Limerick Lane Cellars

  13. October 17, 2013

    My brother suggested I may like this blog. He was entirely right.
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