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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Some New Zins - January 3, 2007


We tried last week (1/3/07) mostly new Zins :

  1. DryCreekVnyd Heritage Zin SonomaCnty (16% PS; 13.5%; www.DryCreekVineyard.com) 2004: Very dark color; bright Zinberry/spicy perfumed/aromatic light Am.oak lovely nose; tart bright very spicy/raspberry/Zinberry pure/varietal balanced light buttery/Am.oak flavor; long slight buttery/ vanilla/Am.oak very spicy/Zinberry/raspberry balanced/pure finish w/ light tannins; a lovely pure Zin for great drinking; this is what Zinfandel should be. $15.00
  2. Novy Zin PaperaRanch/RussianRvrVlly (14.6%) 2004: Med.color; strong toasty/roasted/ smokey/ pungent some peppery/blackberry/Zin/spicy complex nose; tart rich very smokey/pungent/ toasty/ roasted/almost Rhonish very spicy/blackberry/Zin bit dusty/earthy flavor; quite long pungent/ roasted/toasty rather peppery/blackberry/Zin finish w/ light tannins; needs a yr or two or three; very Rhonish in character. $25.50
  3. Gustave Niebaum Captian'sReserve Zin (13.9%) 2003: Dark color; rather pungent/toasty/ oaked slight earthy/blackberry/plummy/Zin simple/dull nose; soft rather hard/tannic quite toasty/oak slight plummy/blackberry/earthy flavor; med.short hard/tannic earthy low fruit finish; a rather coarse/ clunky/rough/dull Zin slammed w/ toasty oak. $28.00
  4. WildHogVnyd SonomaCoast Zin (EB; 15%) 2003: Med.light color; very strong perfumed/ cranberry/blackberry/Zin very peppery/spicy bit alcoholic rather dusty/old vines nose; tart/acid bit alcoholic very spicy/peppery/perfumed cranberry/blackberry/Zin black peppery flavor; long tart/acid very spicy/cranberry/blackberry cracked black pepper finish w/ some tannins;needs several yrs; lots of very interesting aromatics; surprisingly intense given the light color; almost a searing acidity that many did not care for. $22.00
  5. Ridge Calif Zin Carmichael (6% Carignane, 4% PS; 14.8%; 42 brls; Drk: 11/05-11/08-11/09) 2004: Med.dark color; attractive spicy/blackberry/Zin bit oaked/Draper-perfumed pleasant nose; soft attractive/pleasant spicy/raspberry/blackberry/Zin slight dusty light oaked flavor; med. attractive bright/raspberry/blackberry/spicy light oak/pungent finish w/ light tannins; a pleasant/ attractive drinkable Ridge Zin, but just that. $24.00
  6. Ridge Calif Zin Nervo (6% PS; 15.1%; 41 brls; Bttld: Dec'04; Drk: 9/04-9/09) 2003: Dark
    color; deeper more dusty/old vines more intense/blackberry/raspberry/Zin bit riper some smokey/ pungent/oak/Draper-perfume bit complex nose; tart rich/ripe blackberry/Zin/spicy bit dusty/old vines light oaked/perfumed attractive flavor; long strong/blackberry/Zin spicy bit dusty some oaked/ perfumed/Draper-perfume finish w/ light tannins; seems to have put on some weight from at its release; an attractive/drinkable ripe Zin. $24.00
  7. eno LittleMissDangerous Zin TeldeschiVnyd/DryCreekVlly (14.9%; 60 cs) 2001: Med.light
    color; some tobaccoy/cedary/aged Zin some dusty/old vines light cranberry/Zinberry bit complex nose; soft aged/cedary/tobaccoy slight licorice/pungent light cranberry/Zin bit lean flavor; med.short aged/cedary/tobaccoy slight cranberry/Zin bit dusty/dried out finish w/ light tannins and some complexity; lots of aged Zin character and seems old afore its time. $18.00
  8. eno the Patriarch Zin OldVine TeldeschiVnyd/DryCreekVlly (16.3%) 2004: Dark color; rather
    pungent/toasty/Burgundian/oak some dusty/blackberry/Zin bit complex nose; ripe/blackberry/spicy/ Zin bit alcoholic/hot ripe/blackberry/Zin/spicy rather toasty/smokey/pungent/oak bit dusty flavor; med.long rather alcoholic/hot ripe/blackberry/spicy/Zin fairly toasty/charred/oak finish w/ light tannins; needs a yr or two; interesting oaked Zin but a bit on the alcoholic side. $25.00
  9. eno SmallTownHero Zin DaMasVnyd/Fiddletown (14.4%; 60 cs; www.enoWines.com) 2001: Med.light color; rather cedary/tobaccoy/old Zin some toasty/oak some perfumed/black cherry/Zin almost Pinotish bit complex nose; tart some dusty/unclean/bretty/earthy rather cedary/tobaccoy/
    old Zin light black cherry/blackberry/dusty some tannic/dried-out flavor; med. rather tannic/hard slight black cherry/black berry toasty/oak some bitter/tannic/dried out rather cedary/tobaccoy/old Zin finish; bit more interesting than LittleMiss, but also moving along pretty rapidly. $14.00
  10. Carlisle SonomaVlly Zin RossiRanch (15.9%; 330 cs; Vines planted in 1910; 9% AlicanteBouschet) 2004: Black color; strong blackberry/Zin/boysenberry some dusty/old vine
    light toasty/oak nose; tart/acid very rich/blackberry/Zin/boysenberry dusty/old vine slight toasty/ charred/oak big/tannic flavor; long tart/acid big/blackberry/spicy/Zin rather dusty/ old vine light toasty/charred/oak rather tannic finish; seems rather tight and hard and needs a bit to really show its stuff; great structure and acid and should age very well. $35.50
  11. Carlisle RussianRvrVlly Zin Carlo'sRanch (Papera) (15.8%; 225 cs; Vines planted in 1934)
    : Black color; intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/peppery/very spicy quite perfumed/floral dusty/old vines some toasty/smokey/oak nose; tart intense blackberry/boysenberry/spicy/blueberry extracted/huge very spicy/bit floral some toasty/charred/oak flavor; verylong bit hard/tannic huge/blackberry/boysenberry quite spicy/floral/violets finish w/ample tannins; needs 2-8 yrs; big/huge/extracted but definitely not over-the-top Zin. $35.50
  12. Carlisle RussianRvrVlly CarlisleVnyd (Peletti) (15.9%; 0.8 tons/acre; Vines planted in
    1927: +PS/AlicanteBouschet/GrandNoir; 400 cs) 2004
    : Very dark/black color; beautiful/
    perfumed/fragrant intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin slight toasty/charred/oak/pencilly dusty/old vine very aromatic some complex nose; softer bit alcoholic huge/intense Zin/blackberry/boysenberry perfumed/floral some tannic/hard slight toasty/oak/pencil complex flavor; very long/lingering floral/ perfumed intense/extracted/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/licorice very spicy some charred/oak finish; my favorite of the three because of the aromatics; a killer Zin that'll only get better. $35.50
  13. Ridge Calif Zin StoneRanch (12% Carignane; SonomaCnty; 13.6%; 45 brls; Drk: 11/05-11/10-11/11) 2004: Dark color; strong smokey/Draper-perfume/pungent rather dusty/ Geyserville-like strong blackberry/Zin very Ridge/Zin some complex nose; soft slight unclean/bretty rather blackberry/floral/spicy/dusty some pungent/Draper-perfume complex flavor; med.long floral/ violets/blackberry/Zin/dusty slight bretty fairly perfumed/pungent/oak finish w/ some tannins; needs several yrs; much like a Geyserville in profile and complexity. $28.00
  14. Ridge Calif Zin LyttonEast (18% PS, 6% Carignane; DryCreekVlly; 15.1%; 54 brls; Drk:
    1/05-1/10-1/15) 2003
    : Very dark color; very intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin very spicy huge fruit rather dusty/old vines slight toasty/vanilla/oak nose; big/ripe/extracted huge/blackberry/ boysenberry/Zin/very spicy some toasty/pungent/oak dusty/old vine balanced/ripe/mouthfilling flavor; very long huge/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/spicy slight taosty/oak finish w/ ample tannins; needs 2-6 yrs; big huge fruit Zin and less of Ridge winemaking; much like the Ridge Zins of the early '70's; a killer Zin at a great price. $28.00
  15. SeaRidge Zin (13.5%) 1991: Very dark color w/ slight browning; loads of sediment; intense
    ripe/blackberry/boysenberry/licorice bit overripe/jammy quite pencilly/smokey/oak/charred
    rather complex nose; very tart/acid/screechy ripe/overripe boysenberry/blackberry/licorice/
    chocolaty very pencilly/smokey/oak fairly tannic flavor; long quite pencilly/smokey/oak/
    charred/burnt high/screechy/acid strong blackberry/boysenberry/licorice fairly tannic
    finish; needs age and not smoothing out much; may never come together. My mystery wine.

And today's BloodyPulpit:

1. DryCreekZin: Whatta steal this wine is (alas...all sold out at the winery). This is exactly the kind of bright/spicy Zin that first drew me to the varietal yrs ago. This is the first DCV Zin made entirely by Bill Knuttle, I believe. Worth tracking down.
2. Novy Papera: A very interesting Zin, better than any ever made by DeLoach from these grapes. Although not overtly oaky, it had this lovely roasted/smokey character atop all the spicy blackberry fruit. This is how Stephane Ogier would make Zin if he could.
3. WildHogVnyd: Dan Schoenfeld's wnry is one that stays consistently below everyone's radar. Located out in Cazadero, on the extreme SonomaCoast, I find his wines almost always rather interesting, sometimes exceptional. I should visit them sometime.
4. Ridge ATP: This program I continue to find a bit frustrating; I think it could be much more
exciting than it is. It oftentimes seems to be just another part of the Ridge marketing arm (sorry, Donn) and not an opportunity to share their experiments w/ us and look over the winemaker's shoulder. At 40-50 barrels a lot, these are hardly small production lots I think. The wines, particularly the Zins, often seem to speak more of Ridge winemaking than of terroir. I struggle to find something distinctive about them, the terroir thing, and I just can't. They're good drinking/tasty classic Ridge Zins at more than fair prices. But they often don't have the intellectual interest I would like in these wines.

The Carmichael and the Nervo were all too typical. Good/tasty Zins but not all that distinctive from one another. Maybe my expectations are too high for the ATP program?? And...then... along comes a wine like the LyttonEast; slammed outta the park. This wine is one of the best Ridge Zins I've had in yrs; a throwback to some of those from the early '70's. It speaks much less of Ridge winemaking and far/far more of old vine Zin and terroir. THIS is exactly the kind of wine I'd like to be seeing coming from the ATP!! And maybe an Amador Zin, and a Mendocino Red, and a Lodi Essence, and an Occidental Late Harvest, maybe a Barbera... maybe even a White Zin or CoastRange PinotNoir?? One can always hope.

One of the things I find about these ATP wines is that I'll often try them within a week or two of arival, sorta shrug my shoulders, and forget about them. Then I'll try one a yr later (like this '03 Nervo), and find they've put on weight and are much more interesting and better than I first recall. Frustrating. That being said...I'm still a big fan of the Ridge ATP. The wines are always good, at a more than fair price. I ain't about to quit.
5. eno: These are wines made by Sasha Verhage over in Berkeley, in the original winery that
SteveEdmunds used, I believe. I'd had the '04 PinotNoir a month ago and was pretty
impressed with it. I liked this '04 Zin almost as well, for a straightforward tasty Zin. But I was rather surprised at how far along the two '01 Zins were. They seemed older than I would have expected and already in their decline; interesting but no longer sensual.
6. Carlisle: Not much more I can say about MikeOfficer's Zins that I've not said before. Of
these three Zins, I somewhat preferred the Carlisle/Carlisle. The Rossi seemed a bit tight and closed and hard, a bit dischordant and needing a year to come together and really show well. All three had hefty alcohol levels, but none seemed either hot/alcoholic nor overripe in flavors. There are all three pretty monolithic and similar right now and need a few yrs to start to sort themselves out and show their differences. Stunning Zins, some of the best being made in Calif.
7. SeaRidge Zin: This is a wine that I've taken a lot of grief for over the yrs. It is widely
disliked & soundly vilified, as am I, by many in my group. This was grown on the old SeaRidge
property up in Occidental (now Eric Ross), not far from the VonWeidlich vnyd. I thought the wine had great potential because of its searingly high acids, fierce tannins, and loads of very ripe fruit. I still like the stuff and think it may yet come around, but am very much in the monority. A great prophet is often widely ignored in his own time.


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