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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 - August 31, 2011

We tasted last week (8/31/11) some New Zins:

  1. DryCreekVnyd Heritage Zin SonomaCnty (13.5%) 2009: Very dark color; lovely very spicy/berry/blackberry/Zin light pencilly/oak bright/zippy fragrant nose; fairly tart bright/lush/zippy berry/blackberry/Zin light pencilly/oak bit buttery very spicy flavor w/ modest tannins; long very spicy bright/berry/blackberry some oak/pencilly finish w/ light tannins; ready to drink and should go out 2-5 yrs; very/very spicy w/ lots of bright berry/Zin character; maybe DCV's best Heritage Zin ever; great drinking at a very good price. $18.00
  2. Scherrer Zin ScherrerVnyd/AlexVlly "Old&Mature Vines" (14.5%; Planted in 1912) 2006: Dark color; some toasty/pencilly/oak strong raspberry/blackberry/Zin quite spicy slight earthy/dusty slight alcoholic nose; fairly tart/bright raspberry/Zin/Zinberry/spicy some pencilly/toasty/oak more tannic/structured slightly hot flavor; long bit hot lush/raspberry/Zin slight earthy some toasty/oak finish w/ some tannins; lots of bright Zin fruit and good structure but shows the alcohol a bit; needs several yrs yet; lovely Zin in the Nalle style. $30.00 (WoP)
  3. ThreeAngels Primitivo CoyoteCanyonVnyd/ColumbiaVlly (83 cs; 15.0%; www.ThreeAngelsWine.com) 2007: Med.color; rather pungent/ozone/WWII beacon bit earthy/smokey peppery/spicy boysenberry/bing cherry/Zin/earthy bit toasty/charred/oak very interesting/complex nose; soft rather pungent/charred/toasty/oak some peppery/earthy/bing cherry complex flavor; long soft bit tannic pungent/peppery/boysenberry/earthy some charred/toasty/oak complex finish; a really lovely quite drinkable WashState red that speaks quietly of Zinfandel.
  4. AngelVine Primitivo ColumbiaVlly (210 cs; 15.2%; www.AngelVine.net) 2008: Med.dark color; strong bing cherry/boysenberry/earthy light toasty/oak rather perfumed/aromatic nose; bit tarter strong bing cherry/boysenberry/earthy light toasty/oak fairly rich flavor w/ light tannins; some soft/lush/rich/ mouthfilling strong bing cherry/boysenberry light earthy slight toasty/oak finish w/ light tannins; much the same character that the WashState shows in Syrah; not the high-toned character of many Calif Zins.
  5. AngelVine TheHellion ColumbiaVlly (72% Primitivo/28% PS; 210 cs; 15.0%) 2008: Med.dark color; strong bing cherry/boysenberry/light peppery/earthy light toasty/oak nose; soft some toasty/oak strong bing cherry/boysenberry light peppery/earthy light toasty/oak flavor w/ modest tannins; med.long soft bing cherry/boysenberry/earthy light toasty/oak finish w/ light tannins; a very good-drinking WashState red. $22.00 (vBW)
  6. AngelVine Zin ColumbiaVlly (14.8%; 420 cs; 76% Zin/18% Primitivo/6% PetiteSirah) 2008: Med.dark color; strong black cherry/boysenberry/Zin more bright/spicy light toasty/oak nose; much tarter black cherry/boysenberry more Calif Zin-like more spicy light toasty/oak bit more tannic flavor; very long black cherry/boysenberry tarter bit more tannic/structured light toasty/oak more bright/high-toned finish; a bit more high-toned/spicy than the Primitivos, a bit more Calif Zin-like but still speaks of WashState red; lovely Zin for the price. $18.50
  7. AngelVine Zin AveryVnyd/ColumbiaVlly (14.4%; 100 cs) 2008: Med.dark color; strong black cherry/boysenberry/spicy/Zin light toasty/oak slight pungent/ozone rather peppery/cold-climate/Lafond-like cpmplex nose; fairly tart bit pungent/ toasty/oak black cherry/boysenberry/Zin light toasty/oak peppery/spicy some tannic complex flavor; very long black cherry/boysenberry/Zin peppery/spicy light toasty/oak fairly complex finish w/ some tannins; a bit like the old Lafond/cold-climate Zins w/ a very attractive pungency; very attractively priced at $20.00
  8. AngelVine Zin LesCollinesVnyd/WallaWallaVlly (14.0%; 420 cs) 2008: Med.dark color; strong black cherry/boysenberry/ Zin more earthy less Calif Zin-like light toasty/oak nose; some tart boysenberry/ black cherry more earthy/less spicy light toasty/oak bit softer/lusher complex flavor; long black cherry/ boysenberry/earthy light toasty/oak bit more WashState complex finish; very interesting Zin at a very good price. $22.00
  9. AngelVine Zin StonetreeVnyd/ColumbiaVlly (15.2%; 75 cs) 2008: Dark color; somewhat like #8; strong black cherry/boysenberry/Zin/peppery some earthy bit roasted/pungent bit more WashState Syrah-like light toasty/oak rather complex nose; fairly tart slight herbal/peppery/cold-climate strong black cherry/boysenberry/Zin light spicy/peppery light toasty/oak flavor w/ modest tannins; very long strong black cherry/boysenberry/Zin light herbal/spicy/peppery light oak complex finish w/ some tannins; my favorite of all these Zins.
  10. AngelVine PetiteSirah StonetreeVnyd/ColumbiaVlly (65 cs; 14.8%) 2008: Black color; bit subdued boysenberry/licorice/pungent/light peppery some earthy little oak somewhat low-key nose; soft some pungent/tarry/licorice/boysenberry some earthy/loamy very light oak low-key flavor w/ some tannins; very long lush/ripe some tarry/pungent/boysenberry/blackberry/peppery light oak/toasty finish w/ modest tannins; lots of quietly-speaking lush fruit w/ an underlying earthiness; bit like a Juffurs PS w/o the intense fruitiness; very unlike most Calif PS's; quite an interesting PS.
  11. RockWallWineCo Zin MonteRossoVnyd/SonomaCnty Reserve (15.2%; 108 yr old vines;
    www.RockWallWines.com) Alameda 2009
    : Very dark color; strong blackberry/Zin/boysenberry strong Am.oak/vanilla rather alcoholic/fumey nose; fairly tart intense blackberry/Zin/boysenberry very ripe strong Am.oak/vanilla flavor; long intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin strong vanilla/Am.oak soft/lush finish w/ modest tannins; a bit on the overripe and over-the-top rendition of Zinfandel. $25.00 (WoP)
  12. RockWallWineCo Tannat Calif ThePalindrome Yolo&Solano Counties (15.4%) 2009: Very dark/black color; very strong charred/pungent/toasty/oak strong licorice/boysenberry/smokey interesting nose; very soft/fat rather tannic/hard strong ligonberry/boysenberry/licorice pungent/licorice very ripe some vanilla/toasty/oak flavor; very long strong licorice/pungent/boysenberry/ligonberry/ripe some toasty/charred/oak rather hard/tannic finish; plenty of tannins but the lack of acid makes it seem understructured; interesting very ripe wine at a good price. $18.00 (WoP)

And the usual BloodyPulpit:

1. Scherrer: It's probably been some 6-8 yrs since I've had FredScherrer's Zin. It nice to see he
hasn't skipped a beat in all those yrs. Classic spicy Zin at a fair price; much like DougNalle's Zins.
2. AngelVine: Owned by EdFus and named for his wife and two daughters originally ThreeAngelsWnry. Another wnry claimed ownership of that name, so Ed changed it to AngelVine.

I stumbled upon AngelVine because BobWood had visited w/ Ed in Carleton, OR and raved about the PetiteSirah ("slutty" was his descriptor). Say whot??? Oregon PetiteSirah??? That's something different. When I went to the WebSite (www.AngelVine.net) (note the .net....if you use .com, you get some sort of Spiritual/Physic Counselor out of Colorado named Marakai. If I'm gonna get Physic..it'll be w/ a btl of Zinfandel..not Marakai), I found that Ed's passion, in addition to his OR Pinot vnyd, includes WashState Zinfandel. That's something you don't see much of everyday. So I ordered up some to try, a dialog ensued, and Ed reached back into his library to include some of his sold out wines and previous releases as well. "For scientific purposes" was his statement/excuse!!

Primitivo and Zinfandel are, of course, the same grape variety, according to DNA. The Zin/Primitivo I've seen planted side-by-side in the vnyd certainly look different. Presumably clonal differences. There seems to be a preference in the vnyd for Primitivo as easier to grow and a more even ripener. The only opportuntiy I've had to taste Zin/Primitivo side-by-side are the ones from GeorgeHendry. The differences have not been particularly striking. So this lineup of AngelVine wines gave me a much thorough opportunity to compare Zin/Primitivo in the btl.

I asked Ed about his observations on the Zin/Primitivo differences:

       In 2009 we bottled 2 separate wines - one 100% zinfandel and the other 100%
       primitivo - from the same vineyard (Stonetree in the Wahluke Slope).  The
       differences between the wines is remarkable (note: the vines are young - 4th
       leaf for both).

       The Primitivo was picked on 9/16 @ brix = 26.5, pH 3.7
       The Zin was picked on 9/21 @ brix = 25.2, pH = 3.7

       The Primitivo is sleek, more red-fruited (and more fruit centric in
       general), and is received by a wide audience because, I think, of its
       "boisterous" yet "easy drinking" nature.  Reminds me of years ago when I had
       my first d'Arenberg Ironstone Pressings - a fruit explosion that makes you
       stop and say, "Wow!".

       The Zin is darker, dominated by black-fruit, subtle herb, has a smokey note
       not found in our other WA zins (vineyard characteristic?), and seems more
       reflective of the hot growing conditions at the site (a more masculine

       Starting in 2012, we will source Primitivo from 3 sites (Wahluke Slope, HHH,
       & Walla Walla) - for '11 we will only get from Wahluke Slope due to a Nov
       freeze in HHH; Walla Walla fruit will be 3rd leaf in 2012).

       We source Zinfandel from 4 sites (Wahluke Slope, HHH, Walla Walla, &
       Columbia Valley-near the east mouth of the Gorge 7 miles east of The

       Other observations:
       Based on a total of 4 vintages of Primitivo sourced from 2 vineyards ('08 &
       '10 were blends from 2 vineyards while '07, '09, & '11 will be from 1
       vineyard only), the taste of our Primitivo seems to be less influenced by
       site than Zinfandel (The Primitivo seems to taste more similar to each other
       than Zinfandels from different vineyards do).

       >From a winemaking perspective, Zinfandel clusters are generally a bit larger
       than Primitivo but otherwise the vines & fruit are quite similar in
       growing/harvest characteristics.

       As a preliminary generalization, Primitivo makes the more open, big fruit
       wine whereas the Zinfandels make a wine with more going on.

So...my take on WashState Zin & Primitivo: I found the differences between the Zins and the Primitivos to not be all that great, but more differences than in GeorgeHendry's pairings. The Primitivos had a bit more earthy character to them, a bit more of the base notes. A bit more characteristic of WashState reds and a bit less Calif-like; maybe displays the WashState terroir more so than the Zins. The Zins seemed a bit closer to their Calif counterparts than the Primitivos.

The WashState Zin/Primitivos seem, to my judgement, much like the WashState Syrahs vis a vis their Calif brethern. They show an earthy kind of terroir that you don't find much in Calif Zins. They don't have that vibrant/high-toned fruit that you often find in Calif Zin. As I tasted thru these Zins, I was searching thru my Calif data-base for what they resembled. If anything, they reminded me more of ElDorado or Calaveras or Placer cnty Zins than anything.

So...overall...I was rather impressed with Ed's WashState Zins. Well-made, interesting Zins at very attractive prices. They present us w/ an alternative rendition of what Zinfandel can be.

3. RockWall: This is, of course, the next re-incarnation of KentRosenblum. Winemaker is Shauna Rosenblum. Located on the Alameda NAS in a airplane repainting hanger w/ a great view of SFBay to the north and the BayBridge. Several other winemakers, including SteveEdmunds, make their wine here. Diageo, in its infinite wisdom, shut down the winemaking at the original RosenblumCllrs locomotive repair bldg, though I gather they still maintain a tasting room there.

The MonteRosso Zin was a bit over-the-top for my taste, perhaps harvested a too ripe a level. I tend to find MonteRosso Zins to have a rather lean/hard/tannic component that makes them not as attractive as some other Zins at an early age, but w/ lots of spicy character. This MR Zin did not show that character. Will be interesting to try MikeOfficer's rendition of MonteRosso.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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