Global Zinfandel Day, November 19
Since some were caught unaware for last month's Champagne Day, I'm posting a little further in advance for Global Zinfandel Day. This Friday, November 19, is the day to enjoy a bottle of Zinfandel. Let's share our tasting notes in this thread. Please tell us what you plan to open and how it turns out.
More information -
I'm posting the following for PolarBear:
For some reason I can't post to CH, the dialog box appears,
but not the button to post a comment, weird.
We'd planned to do ribs, but the day turned out longer and
tougher for all involved, so I put out some white cheddar,
a triple cream cambozza (sp?) and a roasted chicken.
Washed it all down with:
2000 Christopher Creek DCV
2007 Green and Red, Chiles Canyon
Was surprised how much fruit was still present in the 2000 CC,
very smooth and silky. G&R much in the same style. The Titus
was quite good also, a little bit of pepper and more the style I've
come to prefer.
Feel free to post this if you like. Wishing you a great Thanksgiving
For Global #Zinfandel Day, I managed to stop by two wineries on my way home that offered tastings of special zinfandels as part of today’s celebration.
First up, Joseph Swan Vineyards in Forestville was pouring three zins, all from Russian River Valley: 2005 Mancini Ranch ($26), 2006 Zeigler Vineyard ($28, new release), and 2001 Lone Redwood Ranch ($25, library selection).
Because the owners of Joseph Swan are close friends, I’ll not rate the wines. But I do want to comment on the ’01 Lone Redwood, as it surprised me today. I’d always written off this wine as too light and bordering on simple, and about two years ago it went into a funk and refused to speak at all. Well, it has emerged from that dumb state with a fresh face and lady-like poise. Now quite elegant, if reserved, with cherry-raspberry highlights and a silken texture that’s rather Pinot-like. Not as complex as its two stable mates, but delicious in its own way. If you have some in the cellar, this is a good time to open one again.
My zin day was going to end there, however, I glanced up at the “wall of shame”, the display of dead soldiers of memorable wines. Spotting the 1970 Ridge Jimsomare Zinfandel label next to the 1968 Joseph Swan Zinfandel (produced pre-bond), I was inspired to try to visit another Zin pioneer, Ridge Vineyards in Lytton Springs, north of Healdsburg.
I slid into the tasting room before the gates closed. Ridge has been making zin since 1966, the first vintage for Geyserville. Ridge offered a flight of six zins for $10. Having collected Ridge wines since the 1980 vintage, and plus experience tasting earlier years, I’ll add the disclaimer that I’ve been long acquainted with winemakers Paul Draper and John Olney as well as the wines. Some quick notes:
2002 Lytton Springs – Big slug of buttery, toasted coconut American oak at first sniff, then blackberry, anise and spice notes emerge in the nose and palate, sweet ripe core, very firm finish. Very generous, starting to strut, still a ways to go. EXCELLENT plus
2003 Lytton Springs ($50) – More forward and aggressive than 02 despite only a year’s difference in age. Still some rough edges to smooth over, a bitter note in the aftertaste kept me from liking this more. EXCELLENT minus
2007 Lytton Springs ($36) – Full-bodied with American oak signature well-cloaked under oodles of blackberry fruit and spice, a little higher Petite Sirah in the cuvee emphasizes characteristic rustic tannins in youth. Not together yet, but all the elements are present and well-balanced for greatness. OUTSTANDING
2007 Paso Robles ($30) – Jammy nose of sugar plums and dried currants mingled with carob and tar, yet fresher and more red-fruited on the palate than nose suggests, rounded with almost syrupy texture. Precocious, forward and the most ready to drink of the flight. EXCELLENT minus
2007 Carmichael ($27) – From ~ 65 year-old vineyard adjacent to Trentadue “Geyserville” vineyard, and my first experience with this bottling. Interesting nose with dusty potpourri, bourbon vanilla oak and a little smoke, plump and full in the mouth with raspberry and red plums, good depth, velvety through tapering finish. A little dull in the middle right now, but time will tell. EXCELLENT
2007 Buchignani Ranch ($28) – With 7% Carignane in the blend, the brighter acidity frames the fruit at a higher pitch with a livelier expression. Open-knit nose and palate with layers of brambly berries. EXCELLENT minus
Then two bonus pours at the end of the day.
2008 Pagani Ranch ($35) – Very deeply colored from Alicante in the blend, extraordinarily expressive, flashy and fleshy for a young zin from this vineyard and screaming “I AM ZIN” . Opulent and deep fruit bomb, a little too hot in the finish. Easy to drink now but built for aging. OUTSTANDING minus
2007 Geyserville “Essence” (17% residual sugar, 13.3% ABV), half-bottle) – Some volatility lifts the dense and candied nose, vivacious on the palate with concentrated berry fruit balanced with laser cut of acidity, thick almost creamy texture, but finishes so clean, bright and non-cloying. OUTSTANDING
re: Melanie Wong
Funnily enough I took a bottle of the Joseph Swan Lone Redwood Ranch Zin 2001 to a wine dinner a couple of months ago. There was pronounced volatile acidity at first but this quickly disappeared. I was left with a lovely wine, plenty of fruit but a good slick of acidity to balance it. A whopping 15.3% abv, which would normally cause me to run a million miles. However, whilst a big wine, the alcohol was well balanced - not in any way a fruit bomb. All in all, a revelation.
re: Al Toon
Thanks for pointing out the alcohol. That's why I photographed the labels, but then I forgot to mention the numbers. The acidity of the 01 is remarkably fresh. While the wine has lost its young "in your face" zin aggressiveness, the wine is still so lively, barely middle aged, and carries that alcohol quite well.
Are you in the UK?
re: Melanie Wong
Yes, I live in Newcastle in the North East of England. I picked up the Zin plus a Cuvee des Trois Pinot from a merchant called Leon Stolarski. He actually specialises in Languedoc/Roussillon, but does other stuff including a range of the Joseph Swan wines. The zin is about £19 over here, I guess that equates to roughly $30, the pinot is slightly more expensive. Relative to quality I think the wines are good value for money. Zin seems to be a grape that can handle high alcohol levels without becoming flabby and losing structure, unlike some California cab/merlot wines.
re: Al Toon
Zin does have naturally high acidity. I suspect that's why it was so popular with the old Italians that planted so much of around Sonoma County. And the ones from Russian River Valley have quite high acidity. My recollection is that the Lone Redwood Ranch tended toward elevated total acidity and there would be a long wait for the acids to drop to manageable levels before picking, thus the higher alcohols in years like 2001. The vineyard was ripped in 2005 and replanted to Pinot Noir.
I searched for the merchant and found his page, http://www.lsfinewines.co.uk/acatalog.... Wow, looks like Swan is the only California wine stocked and merchant seems to be a big fan. I would make one correction in those notes, only French oak is used, no American oak at Swan. The winery's two importers in the UK are of longstanding and buy quite a bit of the wine. The chardonnay and the cabernet from the estate vineyard are quite popular in the UK, getting good reception from your wine press, whereas they are so atypical for California, they have few facings at home. Also UK consumers are less reluctant to purchase older vintages, since Swan holds back wines longer than other CA wineries waiting until they are ready to drink . . . which can be a while.
I know that Rod Berglund the winemaker/owner has called on that merchant before. Also he and his wife traveled to Newcastle to visit the birthplace of Thomas Bewick, the wood engraving artist featured on the Swan label.
re: Melanie Wong
As a remarkable coincidence, Sir Joseph Swan, the 19th century physicist who designed the first incandescent lightbulb, was born in the area and worked in Newcastle - a small world!
As for atypical Californian wines, I took two different bottles to our wine dinner, where we always taste blind. The second bottle was the entry level Sonoma Cutrer chardonnay. A group of very experienced wine lovers all liked the wine and played the usual guessing game. The ovewhelming consensus was "Well, it's definitely not from California". From what I've read, I understand this is a very popular choice for US sommeliers. It really is quite Burgundian on the palate.
re: Melanie Wong
You must have read my mind. We are in the air on Nov 19, and do not think that UAL has added any Zins (unless they did it since last week), but I am having a glass of Turley Uebberoth right now. Moving on to the Southern Belle Shiraz, as I pack. Hope that I do not forget something, in my "purple haze."