Notes and impressions from a Zinfandel tasting - Saturday, Jan 27, 2001, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Twenty-two wines were poured for a tasting fee of $17.
The wines, in the order tasted:
1999 Bonny Doon 'Cardinal Zin' Zinfandel Beastly Old Vines.
$14.99.Medium violet-ruby color. Nose of sweet boysenberry/blueberry,
toast and floral notes. Fruity, but also slightly astringent and tart
with an oaky mouthfeel. Moderate fruit and body, slightly rough, thin
and oaky on medium-long finish. 13.5%
1999 Midnight Cellars Zinfandel Crescent - Paso Robles. $15.99.
Light-medium ruby color. Nose of boysenblueberry, rose stems, toast,
and oak. Slightly tart yet fleshy fruit. Nice balance - if slightly higher
to the acid side, the fruit sweetens up a bit during long finish. 14.6%
1999 Lorenzo Lake Zinfandel Blockheadia Ringnosii - California.
$13.99. Medium ruby-garnet color. Sweet, spicy and fruity nose, with
aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, toast, and floral notes. Slightly chewy
mouthfeel, sweet and spicy fruit, very nice balance, long toasty finish.
1999 Easton Zinfandel - Amador Co. $9.99. Medium ruby-violet
color. Somewhat complex, burnished-fruit quality to the nose, with a hint
of ink and a sweet stalky/stemmy quality. Moderate mouthfeel, with an
off-sweet stemminess to the fruit. The fruit tapers off a bit in the latter
palate, showing a little more acid through the medium-long finish. 14.5%.
1999 Renwood Zinfandel Grandpere - Amador Co. $21.99. Medium
garnet-ruby color. Slightly burnished "old vine" quality to the fruit
and toasted oak in the nose. Somewhat sweet-sour fruit, moderate to full
smooth mouthfeel, long and toasty fruit-filled finish. 14.8%.
1999 Rosenblum Zinfandel Oakley - Contra Costa Co. $10.99.
Medium ruby-garnet color. Swampy and brackish nose, somewhat overwhelming
the boysenberry fruit. Background notes of rubber and vinyl don't help
either. Off-sweet mouthfeel, slightly tart fruit, that seems to finish
much sweeter. Certainly tastes better than it smells.
1999 Neyers Zinfandel - Pato Vnyd, Contra Costa Co. $27.99. Medium-dark
violet-ruby color. Nose of pomegranete, boysenberry, licorice, with a
touch of stem. Sweet chewy mouthfeel, with lots of toast and fruit, coupled
with a very nice balance lasting through a very long finish. 15.3%.
1999 Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Zinfandel - Napa Valley.
$9.99. Medium-dark violet-ruby color. Deep and sweet nose of boysenberry/blueberry
and floral notes. Moderate-full mouthfeel, toasty and fruity on the palate,
with a nice long finish. Very nice ripeness; slightly less sweet in the
mouth than in the nose. 14.5%.
1999 Harrison 'Zebra Zin' Zinfandel - Napa Valley. $18.99.Light-medium
violet-ruby color. Somewhat restrained nose of floral and stemmy aromas,
with additional aromas boysenberry, ink, shoe polish, and toast. Big mouthfeel,
sweet fruit, a light touch on the oak, and a medium-long finish. Nicely
refined and integrated wine. 14.3%.
1999 Neyers Zinfandel - Tofanelli Vnyd, Napa Valley. $34.99. Medium-dark
rose-ruby color. Complex nose of toast, boysenberry/pomegranete fruit,
with a hint of stem and cinnamon. Sweet-sour fruit, big mouthfeel, toasty
mid and latter palate, with a tasty dried pasta quality to the very long
1998 Paraduxx - Napa Valley. $32.99. Dark ruby garnet color. Rich
and fascinating nose of boysenberry/raspberry fruit, toast, with Worchestershire
and A-1 sauce. Toasty, smooth and refined on the palate, it still seems
slightly less rich in the mouth than in the nose. Softer than expected,
but very long finish. Blend of Zin, Cab, and Merlot. 14.4%.
1998 Storybook Mtn Zinfandel Napa Estate/Mayacamas Range -
Napa Valley. $18.99. Medium-dark violet-ruby color. Ripe and slightly
burnished nose, with almost a Mourvedre-like fleshiness to the fruit.
Somewhat light in mouthfeel, with slightly tart fruit, and a mostly thin
and tart finish. 14.5%
1997 Sky Vineyards Zinfandel - Napa Valley. $17.99. Medium-dark
violet-ruby color. Toasty, chalky and slightly alcoholic raspberry/boysenberry
nose. Tasty off-sweet fruit, good balance, toasty finish. No alcohol %
1999 Segesio Zinfandel - Sonoma Co. $11.99. Dark rose-ruby color.
Sweet, vanilla-infused, floral, and lush nose. Toasty off-sweet fruit,
with nice balance, obvious acid backbone, and very long toasty finish.
1999 Rabbit Ridge Zinfandel - Sonoma Co. $12.99. Medium-dark violet
-ruby color. Toasty, fruity, spicy BBQ-like nose. Somewhat cloyingly sweet
mouthfeel, spicy fruit, long toasty finish. 13.9%.
1999 Crane Canyon Zinfandel - Eagan Vnyd, Russian River. $21.99.
Medium-dark violet-ruby color. Deep, lush stemmy floral boysenberry/raspberry
nose. Toasty, medium-full mouthfeel, very nice balance, with interesting
blueberry/raspberry flavor, and long finish. 14.9%.
1999 Deloach Zinfandel - Papera Ranch, Sonoma Co. $19.99. Medium-dark
violet-ruby color. Smoky, slightly burnished fruit, with aromas of raspberry/boysenberry,
toast, and licorice. Toasty and stemmy sweet-sour fruit, chewy body, with
balanced acids rounding out the long finish.14.5%.
1999 Deloach Zinfandel - Gambogi Ranch, Sonoma Co. $19.99. Medium
violet-ruby color. Toasty and stemmy boysenberry nose, with a hint of
veggie, shoe polish and ink. Toasty sweet-sour fruit across the palate,
leading to a long, more-sour-than-sweet finish. 14.0%.
1999 Deloach Zinfandel - Saitone Ranch, Sonoma Co. $19.99. Medium-light
violet-ruby color. Sweet, toasty and seductive nose. Toasty sweet-sour
fruit, very nice balance, long toasty and fruity finish. 14.5%.
1999 Deloach Zinfandel - Pelletti Ranch, Sonoma Co. $19.99. Medium-dark
violet-ruby color. Nose of sweet-sour pomegranete, boysenberry, toast,
and hint of stem. Toasty and fruity across the palate, excellent balance,
chewy mouthfeelnice long toasty finish. 14.5%.
1999 David Coffaro Zinfandel - Dry Creek Valley. $17.99. Medium-dark
ruby color. Fabulous nose of boysenberry, toast, and soy sauce. Toasty
and tasty in the mouth, with a fullness and richness that suggest a pinch
of Petite Sirah in the blend. Very nice. 14.4%.
1997 Sausal Zinfandel Century Vines - Sonoma County. $21.99.Medium-dark
garnet-ruby color. Nose of dried pasta, toast, raspberry/boysenberry,
shoe polish, with a ripe/burnished quality. Smooth and polished mouthfeel,
with a toasty and fruity taste, and very long finish. 14.6%.
Overall impressions: this was a nice cross-section of '99s, and it appears to verify that the vintage is definitely very good to excellent, especially when compared to '98. Pricing even appears to be reasonable -- at least on most of the wines tasted here -- although, there were a few wines that approached or topped the $30 mark. But, there's really no reason to have to spend more than $20 to get a nice Zin. In fact, there were even a few near the $10 range to fill the need for a "go-to" Zinfandel.
Among my favorites were 3 of the 4 Deloach's. I liked the Pelletti and Papera best, but the Saitone was a close third. The Sausal was a beautiful wine -- an excellent marriage of old vine smoothness and younger vine jamminess. The Coffaro was, I think, his best yet. The Crane Cyn showed off the best of Russian River Zins, which seem to possess more floral qualities. And, both of the Neyers wines had an excellent balance of ripe fruit and acids -- neither were over the top. Among the bargains, the Segesio and the BV were the clear winners, with the Blockheadia a close third. Although I liked the Rabbit Ridge offering, its sweetness might make it a less balanced wine with food.
I can't say I found any real disappointments here. The Sky just wasn't my cup of tea, and the Storybook's thinness I attribute to the '98 vintage. All-in-all, the '99 vintage is looking real good.
Here is my order of preference, listed in order and by tier, of the wines tasted.
1999 Deloach Zinfandel - Pelletti Ranch, Sonoma Co. $19.99.
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