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Robin Garr

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October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Robin Garr » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:04 am

Bring out your Zins! This month we're aiming our Wine Focus at Zinfandel, America's grape with its roots in Italy, or so we thought, until Carole Meredith & Co. traced its roots to Croatia. Accordingly, we'll open the topic to a world range of Zinfandel and its cousins, not only in California but in the other places around the world - particularly Western Australia - where it is grown; we'll check out Puglia's Primitivo (which, oddly, also is planted here and there in the New World); and, if you can find any, wines from Zin's progenitor grape, Croatian Crljenik Kasteljanski ("Kurl-YEN-ik Kahs-tel-YAN-ski").

I have to confess that I've been on a Zin diet for years, rarely tasting the stuff in the past decade, when - with Turley's 17-percent monsters as the poster children, but what I saw as a general rush toward massive froot and high alcohol - I felt that Zin was leaving me. I'm willing to take this month, though, in an effort to rehab Zin in my mind's palate. Will I be happy? Give me - and give us all - your best Zin-tasting tips!
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:02 pm

Would be interested in seeing some Primitivo notes from those on the east coast where I suspect there are some good choices on the shelves. Not much here in town at the moment, only a couple of "new world" types.
I recently had a Brazin Old Vines Zinfandel from Lodi (15.5% alc) with roast beef and found the wine quite acceptable. No notes however but was pleasantly surprised.

Peachy Canyon Zinfandels have shown up here again, might be tempted to buy.
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Thomas G

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Thomas G » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:12 pm

Dashe is available in PA, so I'll pick up one to try. It's relatively low alcohol but still 14+.
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Shaji M

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Shaji M » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:31 pm

Last night..2006 Pedroncelli Dry Creek Valley Mother Clone Zinfandel. An old favorite and age has not withered her infinite charms! Cherries and raspberry zing, some pepper. The tannins have softened and it kept blossoming in the glass. Great QPR for sub $20 wine!
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JC (NC)

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by JC (NC) » Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:58 am

2006 Elyse Zinfandel, Morisoli Vineyard, Napa Valley (located in Rutherford at the base of Mount St. John; increased elevation and gravelly soil). 15.2% alcohol by volume. Opened Oct. 2, 2013.
Deep purple color; opaque. Nose of raspberry fruit and mild oak notes (just a background hint.) Very bright and fruity first impression with dark raspberry flavor on the tongue. Long finish. Does not seem hot from the alcohol while sipping it but two glasses did affect me more than with some lighter-alcohol wines. Attractive for those who like a fruity Zin (and I do, although I also like more complex Zins such as Ridge Lytton Springs and Geyserville.) This paired pretty well with broiled strip steak and baked potato.
On the whole, I have been pleased with the wines I've tasted from Elyse including a white wine of blended varieties.
I will be opening a Biale Zin this month and perhaps a Ridge or another in my collection.
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:06 pm

Two nice ones to start off with. Pedroncelli used to be in town at one store but checking the other day no sign of their wines anywhere.

BTW just saw this on Disorder.

http://winedisorder.com/comment/56/7299/
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Shaji M

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Shaji M » Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:45 pm

2007 Peachy Canyon Especial Zinfandel. (alc 14.5%)From Paso Robles, this is a well rounded wine with very firm tannins. I get cherries, vanilla, cocoa, minty after taste and long finish. Easy wine to drink, slightly on the bigger side as is wont of Zins from Paso's West side. There is enough in this to keep going on for a few more years.
Bob,
The link on the Ch. Montelena Zin reminded me again that Zins can age and take on nuances over time. Although I have some older Zins lost in the cellar, I am usually one to drink em up early.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:56 pm

Thanks Shaji, always enjoy feedback on ones thoughts. Not much left in my cellar regards Zin :( .
Peachy Canyon Eastside is here but not sure which vintage?
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David M. Bueker

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WTN: Not a Drag

by David M. Bueker » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:57 pm

2011 Lagier Meredith Zinfandel Tribidrag - USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder (10/5/2013)
This is a very interesting wine. It has the ripeness and richness I expect, but it's more in the herbaceous/floral/spicy mode than sweetly ripe fruit. There's plenty of dark berry fruit, but it's totally dry - none of that impression of sugar that tribidrag/zin wines normally have. Very good depth on the mid-palate, and a lovely, dry berry/cedary finish.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Brian K Miller

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Brian K Miller » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:47 pm

I'll repost and expand my note from last weekend here as well.

2011 Three Wine Company Evanghelo Vineyard (Contra Costa County). Old Vines...almost as old as one can get! Candied, bright fruit, but no alcoholic burn or jamminess. If the candied fruit was all that was here, I might be slightly disappointed...but there are also some very nice herbal notes underlying the fruit here. Also, the acidity is refreshing and enjoyable. I had always heard that zinfandel was a "low acid" grape, but is this really true? Some of my favorite zins seem to be zippy (Dashe was mentioned above).

Three is Matt Cline's project, with the winery and tasting room located in Clarksburg (Old Sugar Mill) south of Sacramento on the river...but the grapes are mostly from Cline family contacts in Contra Costa. Nice people!
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Shaji M » Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:05 pm

WTN: 2010 David Coffaro Russian River Valley Zinfandel (oak aged for 16 months). I got a case of this last year from David. This is a wine with quite a bit of zip in it, deep purple, nose of cherries,black fruits. More of the same on the palate with a long finish. The oak is well integrated and it does not betray the alc at 15.9%. Really nice wine to drink.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Jon Leifer » Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:01 pm

I too bought a case of the Coffaro zin posted on by Shaji..first bottle, probably opened too son was kinda rough with some heat..second bottle, consumed more recently, much better and rewarded the wait, will sit on the remaining bottles for a while..This is a BIG wine..
Jon
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Shaji M » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:45 am

WTN: 2008 Cooper Vineyards Primitivo alc: 15.7 %, very well structured wine and tannins are well rounded. Almost claret like on the palate, the berry notes and zing would make this easily pass off as a Sonoma Zin and I would haven't guessed this to be from Amador county fruit. Very little stone fruit in here. Lovely wine and no heat that betrays it's >15% alc. Quite well balanced.
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Robin Garr

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Bonterra 2010 Mendocino County Zinfandel

by Robin Garr » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:06 am

Bonterra 2010 Mendocino County Zinfandel ($12.99)

Made with organic grapes from a winery and grapes certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), this is a very dark purple wine shading to a clear garnet edge. Classic Zin "bramble fruit" scents of raspberries and blackberries, good fruit but stops well short of "jammy" fruit, which to my mind is a good thing, as subtlety remains a plus in wine ... even Zinfandel. Juicy and bright on the palate, ripe and fresh mixed-berry fruit. Frankly, alcoholic warmth is present at its listed 14.5%, but this was one of the lower-alcohol wines on my local wine shop's shelf, with many bottles, even rather modest examples, coming in at 15.5%. (Oct. 10, 2013)

FOOD MATCH: Zins go well with simple, spicy fare, from chile con carne to a grilled burger or steak. This one went nicely with an aromatic mjadra, Palestinian lentils and basmati rice pilaf, a recipe from Louisville's Ramsi's Cafe on the World.

WHEN TO DRINK: I'd enjoy this one over the next year or so; there's debate over the ageworthiness of Zin, but this one is doing well now and will likely continue shedding its Zin fruit with time. Drink up.

VALUE: I'm 100 percent satisfied with this wine at this low-teens price. Wine-Searcher.com reports a $14 average U.S. retail.

WEB LINK:
Here's a fact sheet on Bonterra 2010 Zinfandel and an order form to buy it from the winery where the law permits.
http://shop.bonterra.com/product/Zinfan ... axRows=14&

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and compare prices for Bonterra Zinfandel on Wine-Searcher.com.
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Bonte ... g_site=WLP
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Drew Hall

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Drew Hall » Sat Oct 12, 2013 1:57 pm

2010 R & B Cellars "Swingsville" Zinfandel

•90% Zinfandel, Rogers Vineyard, Contra Costa
•6% Barbera, Rogers Vineyard
•4% Petite Sirah, Bingham Ranch, Napa Valley

I've been buying, and drinking, this wine all year and can't get enough. Fruity, spicy, savory, balanced and elegant with subtle notes of strawberry and cherry. It's been a crowd pleaser for grilling and smoking, as well as a good accompiament for roasted chicken. AND it's available here for $11.20 case buy. :D
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Tom Troiano

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Tom Troiano » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:52 pm

Robin,

I think your comments on Turley are a bit outdated. While I would agree with those comments 10-15 years ago I think the winemaking has changed. Try one sometime.

That said, I was just at a tasting of Montelena wines and the Montelena Zin might fit your taste. Its technically Primitivo - they claim that since its such a close relative the US laws allow them to call it Zinfandel* - but its definitely in a food friendly not over-the-top style.

*they believe that Zinfandel on the label sells better than Primitivo.
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Robin Garr

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Robin Garr » Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:33 pm

Tom Troiano wrote:Robin,

I think your comments on Turley are a bit outdated. While I would agree with those comments 10-15 years ago I think the winemaking has changed. Try one sometime.

Tom, David made a similar point, and it's fair, as far as it goes. Turley doesn't make 17% wines any more. But Zin in general and Turley in particular remains a big, frooty, high-alcohol style that I do not care for. Look: Turley may have changed, at least a little, but it's still a fact that I walked into a neighborhood wine shop the other day and found most of the Zins on display were 15.5% for the serious wines and 14.5 and up for the "pop" stuff.

This is not a wine style that I like. I don't really care whether Turley is 17 percent or 15.5 percent, it's still not my cuppa.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:48 pm

Just because you do not like it is not an excuse for being inaccurate.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Robin Garr » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:24 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Just because you do not like it is not an excuse for being inaccurate.

Turley built its rep by making huge wines that ran up to 17 percent. What's inaccurate about that? Remember the old joke about "Just **** one **** and you'll never get over being called Joe the ********er"? :mrgreen:

Okay, you tell me. What level of alcohol are Turleys coming in at nowadays? How about other sought-after Zins? Are any of them below 15? I'll even give you 14.5, it's still big.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:19 pm

You get to draw the line?
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Robin Garr » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:55 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:You get to draw the line?

For my own enjoyment? Sure. :mrgreen:

(Added: It really was a serious question, though. Do you know the alcohol content of Turley's current portfolio? I did a fair amount of Googling, and it seems that it just doesn't get mentioned in the tech sheets and shelf talkers.)
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:19 pm

I have a 2009 Turley Zin downstairs that clocks in at 14.2%. No other bottles handy.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Joy Lindholm » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:34 pm

Robin, you should try to hunt down the C.G. diArie "Breakaway" Zinfandel (14.3%) and Zinfandels by Broc Cellars and Antic Wine Co. (both come in under 14%). These are all great examples of Zin without hitting you over the head with fruit and alcohol.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Zinfandel and its cousins

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:14 am

WTN: 2011 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Incredible Red, Paso Robles.

Good natural cork, opened and decanted one hour just to let it breathe.
$24 Cdn, 14.5% alc. I used to see a whole bunch of Zins from PC but guess agent change so lack of consistent supply right now.

No real depth of color at all, nose has strawberry, cherry, no oak noted. Guess pretty well entry level. Initial thought on entry is some ripe fruit here, classic brambleberry, low tannins, good acidity but lighter-bodied wine.
" Blackberry..no pepper or spice" from across the table. Smooth texture, nice zinfandel for those intrigued to try.
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