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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 - April 8, 2009


We recently (4/8/09) tried someNew Zins:

  1. Easton Zin LinsteadtVnyd/AmadorCnty (387 cs; 14.7%) 1991: Med.light color w/ slight bricking;
    some raspberry/briary/licorice somewhat cedary/pencilly/old Zin rather complex nose; smooth/ elegant licorice/briary/bit tomatoey/raspberry some pungent/cedary/pencilly/oak flavor; very long elegant light licorice/briary/raspberry rather cedary/pencilly/old Zin finish w/ littletannins; a gentle/elegant/quiet old Zin that still gives pleasure. $14.00
  2. Easton AmadorCnty Zin (14.5%; www.EastonWines.com) 2006: Med.dark color; strong briary/ blackberry/ Zin light Am.oak rather spicy/peppery attractive nose; elegant/bright raspberry/ spicy/ briary/Zin/light licorice tart slight Am.oak bit tannic flavor; med. bright/raspberry/briary/spicy light Am.oak finish w/ slight astringency; needs a yr or two; a very pretty/ balanced/spicy Zin atypical of Amador; great price at $16.00
  3. DryCreekVnyd Heritage Zin SonomaCnty (13.5%; 13% PS; 13877 cs) 2007: Med.dark color; very
    attractive bright/spicy/DryCreekVlly/raspberry/Zinberry/Zin some Am.oak slight earthy nose; tart
    very bright Zinberry/raspberry/DCV Zin/very spicy light buttery/Am.oak flavor; med.long bright/zippy/ Zinberry/raspberry/Zin light Am.oak finish w/ slight tannic bight; needs a yr or two; a bit diffuse right now but should come around and be another classic DCV Heritage Zin at a great price. $18.00
  4. DryCreekVnyd OldVine Zin SonomaCnty (Vine age: 80+ yrs; 14.5%; 16% PS; 4729 cs) 2006: Med.dark color; rather dusty/old vine deeper more blackberry/spicy/Zin light pencilly/toasty/oak bit more
    complex nose; tart rather dusty/old vine deeper blackberry/Zin/spicy some pencilly/oak light tannic/ structured flavor; long blackberry/Zin/spicy slight licorice rather dusty/old vine some pencilly/pungent/oak bit tannic finish; needs 2-5 yrs; bet more oak & complexity than the others. $28.00
  5. DryCreekVnyd BeesonRanch/DCV Zin (15.0%; 5 acres; Planted: 1890's) 2006: Dark color; strong
    blackberry/peppery/Zin/licorice very spicy/peppery light toasty/oak bit more dusty/old vine very perfumed/ fragrant nose; tart rich/lush very spicy/peppery/blackberry/Zin light toasty/oak bit tannic/hard flavor; very long some tannic/hard very spicy/peppery/blackberry/Zin light toasty/pungent/oak finish; needs 2-6 yrs; lots of spicy/peppery character and more RussianRiver in style than DryCreek.$34.00
  6. DryCreekVnyd Zin SommersRanch/DryCreekVlly (www.DryCreekVineyard.com; 15.0%; 786 cs) 2006: Dark color; strong blackberry/Zin bit simpler/pure fruit bit more toasty/charred/oak less complex
    lovely perfumed nose; bit hard/tannic more pure blackberry/black cherry/Zin less spicy/peppery light toasty/pungent/oak flavor; med.long more hard/tannic pure/blackberry/Zin/spicy light toasty/oak finish; needs 2-8 yrs; more pure fruit w/ less dusty/old vine character and a bit more oak; lovely Zin. $34.00
  7. Cuvaison Zin BrandlinVnyd/NapaVlly/MtVeeder (www.Cuvaison.com; 15%)StevenRogstad 2006: Med.dark color; strong boysenberry/blackberry/Zin slight earthy/dusty/old vines slight taco/corn
    tortilla complex/sandlewood quite perfumed/fragrant nose; tart earthy/dusty strong blackberry/
    boysenberry/Zin quite perfumed/fragrant slight pungent/oak flavor; bit tannic rich/blackberry/
    boysenberry/Zin dusty/brambly/spicy slight licorice finish; somewhat tannic & structured and needs 3-6 yrs; a lovely/brambly/blackberry Zin.
  8. Neyers Zin HighVllyVnyds/NapaVlly (15.2%) 2005: Med.dark color; very strong/fumey/alcoholic/
    high VA mushroomy/earthy little fruit nose; soft rather hot/fumey/volatile/alcoholic slight overripe/
    fruit/boysenberry flavor; med.short overripe/boysenberry/Zin rather fumey/alcoholic finish; bit too overripe & fumey/alcoholic for my taste; a very rare clunker from Neyers. $26.00
  9. Novy Zin BarbieriVnyd/RRV (14.7%) 2006: Dark color; very strong pencilly/cedary/oak/Burgundian lush/ blackberry/Zin/black cherry/licorice/spicy very Suduri-like nose; soft lush/ripe/fleshy rather cedary/ pencilly/oak/Burgundian blackberry/Zin/boysenberry flavor; very long spicy/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin pencilly/Burgundian/oak finish w/ light tannins; very classic Siduri profile w/ lots of lush blackberry/Zin fruit. $25.50
  10. Ridge Calif BuchignaniRanch Zin (4% Carignane; 15.1%; SonomaCnty; 44 brls; Drk: 10/07-10/08-
    10/12-10/13: JO) 2005
    : Med.color; strong buttery/Am.oak spicy/raspberry/Zin some cranberry/appley
    rather DraperPerfume some complex nose; tart cranberry/raspberry/Zin somepungent/oak/DraperPerfume
    slight earthy/dusty/old vines flavor; med.long cranberry/raspberry/Zin rather DraperPerfume/pungent/
    Am.oak slight dusty/old vines finish w/ light tannins; probably needs several yrs yet. $28.00
  11. Ridge Calif Zin EastBench (8% PS; DCV; 15.4%; Bttld: Dec'08; Drk: 8/08-8/13-8/15: JO) 2007:
    Very dark color; strong DP/pungent/oak strong blackberry/Zin huge blackberry fruit very perfumed/
    fragrant classic Geyserville-like nose; tart very spicy/blackberry/Zin/boysenberry rich/lush/ripe strong Am.oak/DP/pungent/smokey bit earthy balanced mouthfilling flavor; very long lush/ripe/mouthfilling strong blackberry/boysenberry/Zin strong Am.oak/DP/pungent finish w/ some tannins; needs more age; seems almost Geyserville-like in character; a big step up from the '06; a worthy addition to the Ridge lineup. $30.00
  12. Ridge Calif Geyserville (58% Zin, 22% Carignane, 18% PS, 2% mataro/Mourvedre; SonomaCnty;
    14.4%; Bttld: Jan'09; Drk: 10/08-10/18-10/20: EB) 2007
    : Dark color; rather funky/volatile/alcoholic
    nose that clears to very strong blackberry/boysenberry/black cherry/Zin slight appley/herbal some earthy/dusty/old vines light DP/pungent/Am.oak lovely/complex nose; tart very rich/lush/mouthfilling earthy/blackberry/black cherry slight DP/pungent/oak/dusty bit tannic flavor; very long/lingering intense blackberry/black cherry/Zin slight DP/Am.oak/pungent bit earthy/dusty/complex slight herbal/funky finish w/ some tannins; lots of blackberry fruit and the balance and structure to take it out many a year; a lovely Geyserville and one of the best in recent memory. $35.00
  13. Ridge Calif Zin PasoRobles (100% Zin; 85 yr old BenitoDusiRanch/SLOCnty; 14.5%; Bttld: Aug'08;
    Drk: 6/08-6/12-6/13: EB) 2007:
    Med.dark color; huge blackberry/boysenberry/PasoZin/jammy slight
    herbal/dusty very light Am.oak/smokey nose; tart rich/lush boysenberry/blackberry/PasoZin slight peppery/spicy/dusty very light Am.oak/smokey flavor w/ modest tannins; very long lush/ ripe/blackberry/ boysenberry/Zin very light Am.oak slight earthy/peppery/herbal finish w/ some tannins; maybe the best Ridge regular Paso Zin ever; lots of ripe blackberry fruit w/o being overripe or very jammy; lovely Paso Zin. $30.00

And the usual BloodyPulpit: :

1. DryCreekVnyds: I've followed the DCV Zins from the very start, the 1973. It was a very pretty/
spicy/raspberry Zin that the Heritage Zin falls in that very same mold. DCV has really been
on a roll the last 5-6 yrs w/ their Zins since BillKnuttle came on-board. I see no reason that
that'll change under Lisa as Bill steps back from full-time winemaking duties. The Heritage Zin (young vines) is one of the better Zin values around. Of their high-end Zins, I've always preferred the Sommers & Beeson Zins because of the greater intensity of Zin fruit, a bit more extract, a bit less oak, and lots of dusty/old vines character; with a very slight edge to the Beeson over the Sommers. The OldVines generally has a bit more oak and a bit more structure and not so intense an old vine character.
2. Cuvaison: It's been many a moon since I've had a Cuvaison wine. They've sorta sunk from view in my wine firmament. This btl was gifted to me by SteveLagier/CaroleMeredith on my latest visit.
Their L-M Estate is just up the ridge on MtVeeder from ChesterBrandlin's Ranch. The Brandlin
Ranch is owned by Cuvaison, though Chester still lives there and farms to old block of Zin and
Mourvedre, which goes mostly to PeterFranus I believe. Steve&Carole will be releasing a Zin from Brandlin fruit, made w/ AaronPotts before long under the label of Chester'sAnvil. Therein lies a tale.
3. Ridge ATP: The Buchignani Zin was a pretty classical example of a Ridge ATP release. Not particularly thrilling or distinctive. Every time (almost) I have one right off the boat, I just sorta shake my head in puzzlement. This is an ATP wine...it should be something special and distinctive. They often are not...just another Ridge Zin...different from the Nervo or the Caboose or the MazzoniHome or the Oltranti...but nothing to get excited about. And then, often as not, they have this way of rising up and biting you on the a$$ a few yrs down the road, when they've turned into something really interesting. Frustrating as hell, it is.
4. Ridge '07: These '07's are Ridge's Z-List release that came out April 1. My sense is that Ridge
as done extremely well with the '07 vintage. These Zins have, on release, much more rich/lush
Zin fruit, rather more forward, less Ridge winemaking and DraperPerfume, then thay've been in
the past. I don't know if it's a concious reflection of a change in the Ridge style, perhaps influenced by EricBaugher and JohnOlney, or it's simply a matter of different grapes in '07. I don't see that they've been tarted up or anything to make them good drinking right out of the gate. They seem to have the same balance and structure that should carry them out a good many years. The '07 ThreeVllys is the first Ridge 3Vllys that I thought was worth drinking. This '07 PasoRobles is, maybe, the best regular Ridge Paso yet...right up there w/ the '06 DusiRanch. I was pretty underwhelmed by last yr's first release of the EastBench, made from young vines on the LyttonWest estate, which is on the East Bench of the DryCreekVlly...a bit confusing perhaps. This '07 version is right up there, as good as any of the Ridge Zins. In fact, it had more of the oak/DraperPerfume/pungent character than the Geyserville did; more Geyserville-like than the Geyserville itself. The Geyserville had more big/fruit than it usually does this early on and less of the funky Geyserville character they often show upon release...yet it has less Zin in it than is normal. Weird. Anyway, it seems that Ridge is on a roll w/ their '07's thus far. Lots of really good drinking here for yrs to come.
5. Prices: One thing you've gotta give Ridge credit for...is their prices. They've been almost
constant for the last 4-5-6 yrs. Not many wineries can make that claim.


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