Looking For A Few Good Zins -
Results from a Zin tasting - Saturday, March 11, 2000, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Eighteen wines were poured for a tasting fee of $16.
The wines, in the order tasted:
'97 Chateau Camou Flor de Guadalupe Zinfandel - Mexico. $10.99.
Medium ruby garnet color. Nose of blackberry, mint, vanilla, and camphor.
Tart and acidic mouthfeel, narrow range of fruit, with tart and slightly
green tasting finish. 14.5%
'97 Clayton Zinfandel - Lodi. $15.99. Medium garnet ruby color.
Nose of slightly sweet berry with hints of wood and shoe polish. Sweet
mouthfeel, good core of fruit at mid-palate, nice balance, brief fruity
'97 Tobin James James Gang Reserve Zinfandel - Paso Robles.
$17.99. Garnet ruby color. Sweet, fleshy and stemmy nose of smoky
blackberry and blueberry fruit. Sweet and tasty mouthfeel, good initial
concentration of blackberry and steely blueberry flavors, that soften
out at latter palate. 15.1%
'98 Karly Sadie Upton Zinfandel - Amador County. $18.99.
Ruby garnet color. Nose of dark fruit, along with woody, skunky, and meaty
notes, and hint of rubber. Dark fruit has a slightly coarse mouthfeel,
with flavors of bitter orange rind, wood, varnish, and grainy tannins
through finish. 15.1%
'97 Ravenswood Amador Zinfandel - Amador County. $10.99.
Medium ruby color. Sweet core of blackberry fruit in the nose. Somewhat
thin mouthfeel of blackberry and vanilla, with a toasty aftertaste. Much
more refined (if more of a quaffer) than the Karly Amador. 14.5%.
'98 Green & Red Zinfandel - Chiles Valley, Napa Valley.
$16.99. Medium garnet ruby color. Fleshy and stemmy nose of black/boysenberry,
beet, and succotash. Chewy mouthfeel of blackberry and beet, with slightly
bitter finish. 13.9%.
'97 Brown Estate Zinfandel - Napa Valley. $21.99. Dark ruby violet
color. Blackberry and vanilla nose. Huge mouthful of sweet ripe blackberry
and blueberry fruit, big core of fruit with nicely balanced acids, long
finish with just a trace of heat. Solid effort! More like a young Cab
in mouthfeel, this one's a bruiser. 14.9%.
'97 Steele Zinfandel - Du Pratt Vineyard, Mendocino County. $18.99.
Garnet ruby color. Nose of blackberry, toast, shoe polish, and beet. Soft
mouthfeel, with medium core of fruit, and soft easy finish. 13.0%.
'97 Edmeades Zinfandel - Zeni Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge. $18.99.
Medium ruby garnet color. Nose of boysenberry, toast, and varnish. Sweet
mouthfeel of black/blueberry fruit, shoe polish, with a slightly sweet-sour
'98 Random Ridge Old Wave Zinfandel - Sonoma Valley. $17.99.
Light medium ruby color. Sweaty nose of ripe boysenberry. Slightly tart
and acidic mouthfeel, medium weight, soft black fruits, moderate finish.
'98 De Loach Zinfandel - Barbieri Ranch, Russian River Valley. $18.99.
Medium garnet ruby color. Sweet ripe nose of blackberry, boysenberry,
with touch of beet. Nice concentration, toasty sweet mouthfeel and finish.
'98 De Loach Zinfandel - Saitone Ranch, Russian River Valley. $17.99.
Medium ruby garnet color. A bit restrained with its nearly ripe nose of
blackberry and toast. Somewhat soft but mouth filling blackberry fruit
and toast. 15.5%.
'97 De Loach Estate Zinfandel - Russian River Valley. $14.99.
Medium ruby violet color. Toasty blackberry nose. Slightly tart, acidic
and green mouthfeel, with an almost salted meat taste at the finish. 14.5%
'97 Gary Farrell Old Vine Selection Zinfandel - Sonoma County. $19.99.
Medium garnet ruby color. Briary blackberry nose. Smooth, slightly soft
mouthfeel of blackberry and toast, long smooth finish. ~14%.
'97 Pezzi King Zinfandel - Dry Creek Valley. $19.99. Medium garnet
ruby color. Sweet nose of blackberry and toast. Soft and easy mouthfeel,
good fruity medium finish. 14.3%.
'97 Quivira Reserve Zinfandel - Dry Creek Valley. $19.99.
Medium ruby color, with a cloudy quality to its appearance. Big floral
and stemmy nose, with blackberry, and boysenberry notes. Full mouthfeel,
pungent taste, bitter and green quality to the finish. 14.1%.
'97 Sausal Private Reserve Zinfandel - Alexander Valley. $17.99.
Medium garnet color. Sweaty, overripe and cardboardy nose. Very ripe mouthfeel,
with good balance, soft fruit, medium-long finish. 14.5%
'97 Montevina Terra d'Oro Old Vine Zinfandel - Deaver Vineyard,
Amador County. $15.99. Medium dark ruby color. Overripe, raisiny and
porty nose. Big, tannic and oaky mouthfeel. Very chewy body and long finish.
Overall impressions: no blockbusters here, this flight did have an interesting and very tightly grouped selection of Zins. With the exception of the Brown, everything was below $20. In this 2nd vintage for Brown, they've produced a seriously concentrated and delicious wine. Up about 22% in price over the '96, they obviously recognize what they have here, too. There were 3 entries from the De Loach stable, 2 '98s and the Estate '97. The Barbieri was certainly the most forward, but the Saitone may come around with time. This is the best Tobin James in a while - really nice nose with none of Paso Robles tendency to overripeness. Though soft and easy in mouthfeel, I felt the Ravenswood Amador was head and shoulders above the Karly effort, with its off-putting nose.
Surprises and disappointments: Green & Red's overt vegetal
quality, the very nice nose of the Steele delivering only a halfhearted
mouthfeel, and the poor showing of both the Sausal (off-nose) and
the Quivira (off-mouth). As it turns out, however, I did find a
few good Zins.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
'97 Brown Estate Zinfandel - Napa Valley. $21.99.
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