Category Archives: Zinfandel

Grand Daddy of California Wine Events: Family Winemakers San Francisco

The major stars of the tasting for me, with strong lineups overall and one or more wines rating 93 points or higher, were Bien Nacido, Benovia, Chateau Montelena, Grgich Hills, Herb Lamb, Kaena, Keenan, Ladera, Lagier Meredith, Lamborn Family, L’Aventure, Ottimino, Paloma, Saxon Brown, Seavey, Thomas Fogarty and Vino Noceto. Continue reading

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Concentration & Complexity: Four Historic California Vineyards

I find it especially delightful to visit a very old vineyard. The gnarly old vines in these vineyards, which can live to be well over 100 years old, often develop large weathered holes in the middle of the trunk that make you wonder how the vine still produces fruit given that it appears to be hollow. These kinds of vineyards have special stories to tell. They also produce incredible wine. Continue reading

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Zinfandel: The Highs and Lows of ZAP 2013

The greatest Zin producers, whose wines I’ve sampled under other circumstances as well and that are consistently impressive, responsible for one or more wines at this event that I rated 92+ points or higher, are Ballentine, Bedrock, Black Sears, Bucklin, Charter Oak, Dashe, Grgich Hills, Hendry, Puccioni, Robert Biale, Scott Harvey, Terra d’Oro, Three, Turley and Vino Noceto. Continue reading

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Lodi Gets Unstuck: Longtime Winegrowing Region Gains Visibility

At over 550,000 total acres, Lodi is one of Calfornia’s largest appellations. It has over 100,000 acres of vines, more than twice the plantings of the entire Napa Valley. Its first commercial winery, El Pinal, was built back in 1858. Nonetheless, the area has had a very low profile until recent years. In Matt Kramer’s 2004 New California Wine, for example, there’s absolutely no mention of Lodi, despite the book’s extensive coverage of most of California’s other wine regions. Continue reading

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California Wines Showing More Balance: SF Family Winemakers Tasting

What was noteworthy for me among the wines I tasted was a decline in the overripe versions of these wines that had come to dominate production over the last two decades. Due, I’m sure, to the relative coolness of the last few vintages in California, as well as to a conscious aim for higher acid, more balanced wines by an increasing number of winemakers here, I tasted many more balanced, lower alcohol Cabernets this year. Continue reading

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A Tour of Historic California Vineyards

This month I toured some of California’s oldest vineyards with a group of winemakers who make wines from these vineyards. The vineyard tour and the dinner that followed were organized to raise funds for the Historic Vineyard Society, whose mission is to document and preserve these precious pieces of California’s vinous heritage. Continue reading

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Charter Oak Wines: Quiet Pursuit of Excellence

The wine world includes a lot of small, family-owned producers. Many produce good wines, and a multitude don’t. Occasionally, however, the results are outstanding—truly among the ranks of the region’s very best. That’s the case with Charter Oak—a tiny, Napa Valley based producer that operates out of a family’s backyard and basement cellar. Continue reading

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