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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.

Zinfandels - July 9, 2014

We tasted last night (7/9/14) some Zinfandels:

  1. Teira Zin DryCreekVlly/AlexndrVlly/RRV/SonomaCnty (13.9%; www.TeiraWines.com) 2011: Med.color; slight dusty/earthy bright raspberry/DCV/Zin/Zinberry/spicy light Am.oak pleasant nose; faorly tart bit lean/hard bright raspberry/Zinberry/DCV Zin light Am.oak flavor w/ light/bitey tannins; med.long bright Zinberry/raspberry/DCV Zin/spicy light oak finish w/ light/bitey tannins; a pleasant enough bright DCV Zin at a good price, but just that. $14.38 (PrimaIlC)
  2. Ridge Zin HeartsDesire GeyservilleVnyd/SonomaCnty (Planted in 1990/WhittenRanch; Yield: 3.5 tons/acre; 14.3%; 42 brls; Bttld: 2/13; Drk: 12/12-12/17: EB) 2011: Med.dark color; strong vanilla/ Am.oak/DraperPerfume bit more blackberry/Zin/very spicy attractive classic Ridge Zin nose; lightly tart strong vanilla/Am.oak strong blackberry/Zin/very spicy bit dusty/earthy balanced flavor w/ light/ graceful tannins; very long tart/tangy quite spicy/blackberry/Zin slight dusty strong Am.oak/vanilla finish w/ light/ gentle tannins; a pleasant typical Ridge ATP Zin that's one (small) step above the EastBench. $32.00 (ATP)
  3. DryCreekVnyd Zin HeritageVines SonomaCnty (VineAge: 20 yrs; 15% PS; 14.5%) 2012: Dark color; strong bright/spicy/Zin/Zinberry/raspberry/blackberry light toasty/oak quite lovely/fragrant nose; fairly tart bright/raspberry/Zinberry/blackberry quite spicy bit peppery light toasty/oak flavor w/ light/smooth tannins; long very spicy/bright/Zinberry/raspberry/blackberry/bit peppery light toasty/oak finish w/ light/ gentle tannins; quite spicy and balanced; a classic DryCreekVlly Zin at a very good price. $nc (BS)/$20.00
  4. DryCreekVnyd Zin OldVine DryCreekVlly/SonomaCnty (VineAge: 90+ yrs; 14.5%; 1-2 tons/acre; 23% PS) 2012: Dark color; deeper blackberry/Zin/Zinberry/spicy/peppery some dusty/OV light toasty/ smokey/oak some complex nose; softer rather dusty/OV strong blackberry/boysenberry/Zinberry/ peppery/very spicy light toasty/smokey/oak fairly rich/lush flavor w/ some soft/round tannins; very long some dusty/OV ripe/blackberry/Zin/Zinberry/licorice/DrPepper rich/lush light smokey/oak some complex finish w/ some soft/ripe tannins; almost like a DryCrekVlly Pagani Zin w/ bit of a sauvage character; less oak & more fruit than previous OV Zins; lovely example of OV Zin. $nc (BS)/$30.00
  5. Americano PetiteSirah Calif (13.5%) DonAugust Sebastiani Jr/Napa 2011: Dark color; some coarse/ rustic/old timey light peppery/pungent/PS/blueberry rather earthy bit simple nose; bit peppery/PS/ blueberry dusty/earthy some rustic/earthy flavor w/ light/coarse tannins; med.long slight redwood tanky/old oak/old timey some peppery/PS/blueberry finish w/ light/coarse tannins; the earthiness suggests some Lodi PS therein; a rather old-timey PS like Gus or Lou would have made, but w/ a bit more peppery fruit; nice PS at a fair price. $20.00 (UdW)
  6. Dehlinger 60% Zin/40% PS RRV (15.3%) 2011: Dark color; strong pencilly/toasty/oak/smokey very strong blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/ripe bit peppery/PS bit dusty/OV very fragrant/perfumed nose; bit tart some earthy/dusty/OV huge fruit/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/ripe strong toasty/pencilly/smokey/oak flavor w/ big/ripe/round tannins; very long ripe/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/bit peppery strong toasty/pencilly/ oak huge fruit finish w/ ample/soft/round tannins; loads of intense ripe fruit yet not over the top; beautiful Zin at a very fair price. $27.00 (vBS)
  7. Radio-Coteau Zin Robert'sBlock/SonomaCoast (von Weidlich vnyd; 54 cs; U/U; 14.4%; www.RadioCoteau.com) 2011: Very dark/near black color; quite dusty/OV/herbal quite spicy/rosemary/ forest floor/peppery intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin some toasty/charred/oak quite complex nose; rather tart/grapefruity/tangy/citrusy quite dusty/OV/peppery very intense blackberry/boysenberry/ framboise light charred/oak flavor w/ ample/ripe tannins; very long/lingering very dusty/OV/herbal/ rosemary intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/peppery/pungent finish w/ ample hard/rough/ripe tannins; a very unusual/atypical Zin w/ lots of tangy/grapefruity on the palate; a classic example of dusty/OV character; seems to have a strong whole-cluster signature; needs age; an amazing Zin. $nc (BS)/$48.00
  8. Radio-Coteau Zin vonWeidlich/RRV (220 cs; 15.4%; U/U) 2004: Med.color w/ much bricking; light dusty/OV bit alcoholic rather fragrant/perfumed/floral/light blackberry light pencilly/oak some complex bit tired nose; rather tart some pencilly/toasty/oak slight peppery/blackberry/spicy slightly tired flavor w/ some tired/dried-out/astringent tannins; long light spicy/blackberry/Zin/peppery/floral some pencilly/oak/ old Zin finish w/some tired/dried-out tannins; some pleasant things therein but seems further along than I would expect. $28.00
  9. Ottimino Zin OttiminoVnyd/RRV (14.5%; 448 cs) Occidental 2004: Med.color w/ slight bricking; some pencilly/oldZin bit floral/spicy/pungent/Zin slight toasty/oak/smokey slightly tired/dried-out nose; bit tart some tired/oldZin/pencilly/tobaccoy slight funky/earthy flavor w/ tired/drying tannins; med. slight toasty/oak some earthy/pencilly/tobaccoy/oldZin finish w/ light/dried-out tannins; pretty much on the tired/oldZin side and not a lot of pleasure; not nearly as alive as the R-C. $28.00
  10. RobertBialeVnyds Zin MonteRosso/SonomaVlly/SonomaCnty (15.8%) 2011: Med.light color; lovely perfumed/raspberry/Zin/very spicy light toasty/oak classic MR/aromatic/perfumed nose; rather light quite lean/hard/tight bright raspberry/Zin/very spicy bit dusty/OV light toasty/oak quite perfumed/aromatic flavor w/ some hard/tight/lean tannins; very long/lingering bright/very spicy/raspberry/Zin bit dusty/OV light toasty/oak very aromatic finish w/ some hard/tight tannins; needs more age; a rather lean/tight/sinewy Zin w/ classic MR aromatics; on the light side for a Biale Zin but very well-crafted. $40.00 (SFW&S)
  11. RobertBialeVnyds Zin RockyRidgeVnyd/Rockpile/SonomaCnty (15.8%) Napa 2012: Med.color; rather spicy/raspberry/Zin/Zinberry bit dusty/earthy light toasty/oak quite attractive nose; tart rather lean/ hard/structured very spicy/Zin/raspberry light earthy some toasty/oak flavor w/ some hard tannins; long very spicy/raspberry/Zinberry/cherry/bright light toasty/oak slight earthy/dusty/stony structured/tight/lean finish w/ ample/hard tannins; very nice aromatics and on the hard/wiry side but speaks of DCV Zin; no heat or alcohol evident; needs 2-5 yrs of age to show much. $48.50 (SFW&S)
  12. RobertBialeVnyds Zin BlackChickenVnyd/Napa (15.8%) 2011: Med.dark color; strong blackberry/ boysenberry/Zin/ripe very spicy light toasty/oak bit alcoholic/hot nose; somewhat softer/riper bit lush/ mouthfilling strong ripe/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/bit jammy light toasty/charred/oak some dusty/OV/ earthy flavor w/ some hard/rough tannins; long rather ripe/blackberry/boysenberry/jammy/Zin light toasty/ charred/oak structured dusty/OV finish w/ ample hard/rough tannins; my favorite of the Biales; shows more of the ripeness I racall of the Biales of old; rather hard/angular tannins and needs more age; bit on the pricey side. $50.00 (SFW&S)

And stuff from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Teira: A new wnry for me. Dan & Alexis Donahoe. She is the daughter of FrankWoods, founder of Clos du Bois. Dan is the founder of FreeFlowWines, that provides premium wine on tap from a keg to restaurants. Their winemaker is BillKnuttle, formerly w/ DryCreekVnyds.
2. Biale: It had been over 5 yrs or so since I'd tried any of the Biale Zins, so thought it was time to revisit them. I have, of course, followed the Biale Zins from the very start. I sort of quit trying them as their prices started to escalate sharply. But I bit the bullet and bought these three to try.

I originally was attracted to the Biale Zins because of their intensity and extract. Classic big/bold Zins.
I was quite surprised by these three Biales. They were lighter than I recall in the past. They seem to have gone the way EhrenJordan took Turley...cut back on the extract, letting the vnyd/terroir be more clearly expressed, but still hefty alcohol levels. And like the Turleys, they seemed to carry their alcohol levels well and not seem particularly hot/fumey.

I liked all three of the Biales. They seemed a bit on the pricey side for what they are. They didn't seem
to have the lush/round/supple character of before and I was rather struck by the hard/angular tannins they showed on the palate. Perhaps it's just a matter of them needing more age.
3. vonWeidlich: This is a very old Zin vnyd just NE of Occidental on OccidentalRidgeRd. Owned by the late Robert Weidlich (the "von" is his self-annointed connection to German nobility as I understand). Back in the early '70's, Ridge made some superb Occidental Zins from Robert's vnyd. PaulDraper finally gave up on the vnyd as it was too difficult to get the grapes to ripen properly. He recalls onetime going up to the vnyd to pick up their bins of grapes and seeing Robert out there tossing handfulls of C&H on the bins of grapes.

EricSussman probably made the best of the Zins from vonWeidlich (Ottomino also makes a Zin). He lost those grapes after the '07 vintage when BradAlper/Ottomino took over the farming of that vnyd. He has since had access to those grapes again w/ the '11 vintage and, I understand, is farming that vnyd now.

This '11 is an incredible Zin, very unlike other Calif Zins. It was given to my group to try by a good
SantaFe wine friend. It has a very high acidity you would expect from Occidental Zin and will probably age exceptionally well. I was a bit disappointed by how far along the '04 was in its aging curve.
4. DryCreekVnyds: Another very strong HeritageVines Zin from DCV. For a sub-$20 Zin, this wine is, yr in & yr out, my go-to inexpensive Zin. Their high-end Zins are the OldVine, the BeesonRanch, and SomersRanch. The latter two are always my favorite. The OldVine, in the past, has tended to have more oak and not the fruit intensity of the Beeson/Somers. This '12 version struck me as the best OV Zin I've yet had...less overt oak, more dusty/OV character, a bit more fruit. I think TimBell is doing a great job w/ their Zins.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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