1. Old Zins: The folklore is, of course, that Zins don't age worth diddly-squat. Maybe,
maybe not. I've had my share of old Zins that were dried-out/tired/astringent and unpleasant to drink. None of these seven Zins would I categorize that way. Like tasting any old wines, the intellectual pleasure oft outweighs the sensual pleasure received from the wine. Certainly the case here. These wines offered up a pleasant trip down memory lane for me; they were some pretty exceptional Zins in their day.
Surprisingly, all seven were a real pleasure to drink. They kinda flitted across the palate like a gentle zypher, teasing the palate with a multitude of sensations that were damnably difficult to put words with. Two of the btls were real weepers, ullaged way down onto the bottom of the shoulder. Most skeptics would have dismissed them out of hand as vinegar. Neither of the two showed any signs of oxidation. I would guess as the wine seeped out around the cork,
it didn't suck in air from the outside, but merely replaced the lost volume w/ volatiles from the wine. Maybe, just maybe, the skeptic pedants don't know diddly-squat afterall.
Tasting old Zins like this is a bit of an aquired taste. If you require that, since it's Zin, that it be rich/extracted w/ gobs of hedonistic fruit; then you're notta agonna like them. But if you regard the wines as DanGehrs or DaveStare speaking to you from 30 yrs ago and put some value in gentleness and complexity; then it's easy to like these wines. Just like you can learn some, maybe a lot, from a 90 yr old guy in LazyDazyNursingHome than you can from some young buck, virile and 20-something. It's all a matter of expectations.
2. CongressSprings: This wnry dates back to 1971 when Vic Erickson bought the abandoned
property (www.svcn.com/archives/saratoganews/11.13.96/winery.html). Dan Gehrs, then
working at Paul Masson and Vic went into partnership, resurrected the old Zin vnyd there
on the property, and started making wines in 1976. Not sure where the names CongressSprings or MonmartreVnyd came from. Dan continued as winemaker there until he
and Vic parted ways about 1990. I was quite taken by the wines Dan made there in the
late '70's, some of the best wines he ever made in his career, I thought. The Zins were my favorite by far. But he was a pioneer in making great CabFranc in Calif. And I thought many of
those early PinotNoirs were pretty exceptional as well.
The property was sold about 1990 and is now the Savannah-Chanelle Wnry, where they still make Zin from that old vnyd, though I've not had it. In its youth, the HopKiln was a rich/lush/ jammy/blackberry of a Zin. It held up the least well of the old Zins. The Monmartre always had more tannins/acids/structure to them; w/ that SCM rustic earthiness, not too unlike the Ridge Jimsomares or Pichettis in character. The LateHrvsts seemed to do the best w/ 25-30 yrs of age; probably because of their RS; and still showed some of the blackberry Zin fruit.
3. ChauvetVnyd: This is a vnyd that was planted about 1875 in the Valley of the Moon, near
GlenEllen, on the vlly floor, not too far from the PaganiRanch. Roudon Smith made a few pretty exceptional Zins from this vnyd. As best I can tell, all the grapes now go to Coturri Wnry (sigh!!).
4. RidgeSullivan: This is a new vnyd designate for Ridge. A fairly classic straightforward Ridge Zin; a pretty wine of the stature of the Ponzo or Buchagnani, but not of Lytton or Pagani. Nice wine, but just that. However....sometime the Ridge Zins that don't thrill me out the gate have this way of putting one weight in a yr's time and turning into pretty good stuff. This Sullivan may do just that. But, then, what would I know?? Only been drinking Ridge Zins for 35 yrs and still trying to figure them out.
5. DryCreekVnyds: Since BillKnuttle took over as winemaker at DCV, he's really notched up the
quality of the DCV Zins (heck...all their wines). The Beeson and Somers Ranch Zins are even better, IMHO, than the Old Vine Zin. For all those folks who whine & complain about
rising alcohol levels in Calif Zins, these wines are for you.
6. Novy Zins: They seem to get lost in the shuffle of all the Novy Syrahs, but Adam's Zins
are not to be sniveled at. Not big or bombastic; they show the restraint and balance you'd
expect of a Zin from a Pinot producer. Lovely Zins across the board.