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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.

From the Archives - March 25, 2009


We tasted last night (3/25/09) From The Archives:

  1. AlbanVnyd Viognier EdnaVlly/AlbanEstate (14.7%) 1999: Med.light gold color; strong toasty/toasted coconut/ZagNutBar light very ripe/floral/Viog some complex nose; soft rather toasty/oak/toasted coconut/ZagNut very ripe/floral/Viog flavor; rather short some bitter/hard light floral/Viognier/peach/very ripe strong toasty/oak/toasted coconut finish; rather eccentric rendition
    of Viog & rather on overripe side, but interesting. $35.00
  2. StorybookMtnVnyds NapaVlly Zin (13.5%) 1982: Med.light slight browning color; rather cedary/pencilly/old Zin bit alcoholic/fumey slight earthy little fruit nose; very dried out/tannic some cedary/pencilly/old Zin quite bitter flavor; short dried out/tannic/astringent slight cedary/pencilly finish; pretty much DOA. $7.75
  3. EdmundsStJohn NapaVlly Zin TW BrandlinRanch; P&B by LaMethodeAncienne/Berkeley 1986: Med.light color w/ slight browning; quite spicy/smokey/pungent slight licorice/herbal very light blackberry/Zin rather complex nose; tart rather spicy/smokey/pungent slight licorice/blackberry/Zin
    slight tannic/astringent no oak complex flavor; med.long bit tannic/astringent light berry/Zin/pungent/ smokey/licorice finish; starting to dry out a bit but still speaks of Zin; an elegant/gentle/delicate wine that has held together amazingly well. $10.00
  4. RussianRvrVnyds SonomaMtn Dry SonomaCnty Zin Ultimo (15.6%) Topolos@RussianRvrVnyds/ Forestville 1980: Med. some browning/murkey color; rather pungent/licorice some cedary/pencilly/oak bit tomatoey/overripe nose; hard/tannic/bitter/dried out no fruit slight licorice/pungent flavor; med.short
    slight pungent/licorice rather tannic/dried out/bitter/astringent no fruit finish; pretty much dead & gone.
  5. GaryFarrell SonomaCnty/RRV Zin (TW) 1991: Med.color w/ no browning; rather attractive/ Burgundian/smokey slight fecal/finky still some blackberry/Zin nose; soft/smooth/elegant some cherry/Pinotish bit Burgundian/oak slight dried out/astringent flavor; med.long light Burgundian/oak/ Pinotish some blackberry/Zin finish w/ slight astringent tannins; starting to dry out but still very much alive and a pleasure to drink. $14.69
  6. Ravenswood Zin Belloni/SonomaCnty (14.8%; 710 cs; TA: 0.82; Pckd: 10/14) 1991: Dark color w/ slight browning; strong licorice/pungent/blackberry/Zin bit dusty/old vine slight minty rather complex/ cedary/old Zin nose; very tart bit citric quite spicy/blackberry/Zin light cedary/oak/pencilly complex flavor;
    long spicy/blackberry/Zin slight pungent/licorice bit cedary/pencilly finish w/ light/smooth tannins; still very much alive & a pleasure to drink. $18.00
  7. Ravenswood Zin Dickerson/NapaVlly (14.2%; 1350 cs; TA: 0.84; Pckd: 10/3) 1991: Med.color w/ slight browning; strong minty/menthol slight pencilly/cedary slight licorice/blackbery/boysenberry/Zin/ pungent fairly complex nose; tart bit lean/austere rather minty/menthol slight cedary/pencilly some
    blackberry/Zin flavor; med.long bit tart/citric rather minty/menthol/cedary slight blackberry/Zin finish w/ light tannins; starting to dry out a bit but still very much alive w/ classic Dickerson minty/menthol character. $18.00
  8. Ravenswood Zin Draper/NapaVlly (16.2%; 42 cs; TA: 0.78; Pckd: 10/16) 1991: Dark bit browning color; strong blackberry/raspberry/Zin slight herbal bit hot/alcoholic big fruit slight cedary/pencilly/old Zin complex nose; big blackberry/Zin soft bit overripe/late harvesty some dusty/old vines quite smooth/ velvety flavor; med.long some minty/menthol bit alcoholic/late harvesty soft/ripe/blackberry/Zin bit chocolaty smooth/polished finish w/ late tannins; still in mighty fine shape and plenty of ripe/blackberry/Zin fruit. $18.00
  9. Ravenswood Zin Cooke/SonomaVlly (14.9%; 520 cs; TA: 0.67; Pckd: 10/12) 1991: Med.dark slight browning color; rather dusty/old vines fairly spicy/blackberry/Zin some complex nose; soft rather lush complex/dusty/old vines quite spicy bit peppery some blackberry/chocolaty/Zin flavor; very long
    complex/dusty some blackberry/chocolaty/Zin slight cedary/pencilly finish w/light tannins; still very much alive and in great condition. $18.00
  10. Ravenswood Zin OldHillVnyd/SonomaVlly (14.9%; 725 cs; TA: 0.67; Pckd: 10/8) 1991: Med.dark color w/ little browning; rather cedary/pencilly/old Zin slight blackberry/Zin low fruit bit tired nose; tart rather dried-out/astringent/tired some cedary/pencilly/old Zin little fruit flavor; med.long dried out/astringent/tired some cedary/pencilly/old Zin finish; not much fruit left and definitely on its last legs. $20.00
  11. NoonWnry Eclipse (Unfltrd; 65% Grenache, 35% Shiraz; 16.3%) 1997: Very dark color w/ no browning; very strong Am.oak/vanilla strong blackberry/strawberry/boysenberry very ripe/overripe nose; soft huge fruit/strawberry/bklackberry slight overripe/pruney very strong Am.oak/vanilla flavor; long very ripe/blackberry/boysenberry/huge fruit strong Am.oak/vanilla finish w/ soft tannins; classic overripe Oz fruit bomb not showing much evolution at all. $45.00
  12. Babcock BlackLabelCuvee SantaBarbaraCnty Syrah (13.6%) 1997: Black color; very strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah slight toasty/charred/smokey bit chalky/peppery some complex nose; rich/lush strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/chocolaty slight chalky bit roasted/charred/smokey flavor w/ some tannins; very long intense blackberry/boysenberry/chocolaty/Syrah light smokey/Fr.oak/
    pungent finish w/ some tannins; still big Syrah fruit and not showing much evolution. $35.00

The usual profundities from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Storybook: I've liked JerrySeps StorybookMtn Zins because of their restrained, less extracted, balanced style. They typically need a bit more age than most Zins. So I was expecting this '82 to still be hanging in there. Alas, it was not and totally dead.
2. Toplolos Ultimo: Back in the late '70's-early '80's, MichaelTopolos made some rather impressive Zins (and AlicanteBouschet) under his label. His Ultimo was his top-of-the-line/late harvest Zin and it was once a winner. Alas, this '80 has not stood the test of time. Later in the '80's, Michael's winemaking became more & more slovenly. Across the board, the wines all seemed to have a raging volatility. The last time I visited the tasting room in the late '80's, the wines all had such extreme volatility to them that the tasting room would have been gone in a poof if anyone would have lit a match. I remarked to the lady pouring that they seemed a bit on the volatile side. She seem perplexed by that comment and asserted they had a lot of perfume to them. I could never understand how a winemaker could be so clueless to that degree of VA in his wines. That said, MikeOfficer has a tremendous degree respect for Michael's capabilities in the vnyds and will be taking some of the grapes from his new vnyd (organic) in the future, I seem to recall.
3. DraperVnyd: I had long assumed this was a vnyd that was owned by JerryDraper, of Draper&Esquin fame. Not so. This was an old vnyd on SpringMtn that was once owned by JosephDraper in the '40's. It was purchased by the owners of SpringMtnVnyd in the mid-'90's and renamed BeringerFlats vnyd, in honor of its once-ownership by the Beringer brothers. I don't ever recall seeing any other wines from this vnyd. This very limited Zin was an absolute gem in its youth, one of the best Ravenswood Zins ever.
4. Ravenswoods: I was pretty surprised as to how well these were holding up. The Cooke was easily the best of the bunch and had come together into a really attractive mature Zin. The Old Hill has always been my favorite of the Ravenswood Zins upon release, but this '91 had failed the test of time.
5. BabcockSyrah: I had just returned that Mon night from Calif and RhoneRangers. I had taken a btl of the Babcock in my stash, checked thru SouthWest baggage check, and firmly manhandled by their gorillas. Since I had another pristine btl resting out in my cellar, I thought this would be another great example to demonstrate the travelling effect on wine. So I served the two btls, blind,
to my group as mystery wines. These people are pretty sharp and immediately suspected I was up to no good. The wines were very/very similar and most folks guessed that to be the case. I knew what was going on, but didn't know which one was which. The btl direct from the cellar had a very slight more fragrant/perfumed nose, but seemed slightly harder & more tannic on the palate. Once
again, the travelling effect proved tiny or non-existent; unless the SouthWest baggage handlers have evolved into kinder/gentler souls.


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