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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 - May 9, 2007


We tried tonight (5/9/07) Some New Zins :

  1. DryCreekVnyd Heritage Zin SonomaCnty (14.5%; 15% PS; 9,571 cs) 2005: Very dark color;
    lovely bright/spicy/raspberry/classic DCV some vanilla/oak nose; deep raspberry/blackberry/spicy light oak classic DCV flavor; very long bit tannic big blackberry/Zinberry light oak finish w/ light tannins; needs yr or two; bigger/richer than the '04 version; a lovely DryCreekVlly Zin at a great price. $16.00
  2. DryCreekVnyd OldVine Zin SonomaCnty (13.5%; 10% PS; 4270 cs) 2004: Dark color; deep/
    rich some dusty/old vines strong blackberry/raspberry/Zinberry slight toasty/oak nose; smooth/ polished vanilla/toasty/oak deep blackberry/Zinberry/spicy/peppery rich/lush flavor; very long spicy/blackberry/Zinberry slight peppery/licorice/pungent light toasty/oak slight dusty/old vine finish w/ light tannins; needs several yrs; a lovely/balanced/polished very well-made Zin at a very good price. $25.00
  3. HendryVnyds HendryBlock7 NapaVlly Zin (14.7%; Plntd in 1975/Clone 2 Zin) 2004: Dark
    color; lovely blackberry/spicy/Zin slight chocolaty light smokey/oak nose; bit hot attractive blackberry/spicy/Zin slight earthy light oak/smokey/toasty flavor; med.long bit hot/tannic blackberry/spicy/Zin light smokey/oak licorice finish w/ modest tannins; an attractive/four-square NapaVlly Zin. $28.00
  4. HendryVnyds HendryBlock24/NapaVlly Primitivo (16.0%; Clone 3 Primitivo; Planted: 1997;
    www.HendryWines.com) 2004
    : Very dark color; deeper less aromatic some floral/rosepetal
    light licorice/tarry some blackberry/Zin/spicy complex nose; smooth deep/rich light licorice/tarryfloral some blackberry/Zin flavor; long smooth/ripe blackberry/Zin/somewhat licorice/tarry finish w/ some tannins; much less obviously Zin but better structure and carries the alcohol well w/ little overripe character; far preferred to the other one. $30.00
  5. HugCllrs PasoRobles Zin (15.9%; www.HugCellars.com) 2005: Dark color; lovely blackberry/
    boysenberry/Zin/Paso jammy spicy/ripe nose w/ no noticible alcohol; soft ripe/lush strong blackberry/boysenberry/jammy/brambley flavor; long ripe blackberry/boysenberry/ripe/jammy finish w/ light tannins; a classic ripe Paso jammy Zin w/ loads of fruit;good backbone & structure; carries the alcohol well. $20.50
  6. Branham Zin Rockpile (14.2%; www.BranhamWines.com) 2004: Very dark color; slight skunky/cabbagey dusty/minerally/graphite bit ozone/WWII beacon low-key blackberry/Zin some
    toasty/oak bizarre nose; rather hard/tannic minerally/dusty subdued blackberry/Zin quite spicy structured flavor; long rather tannic/hard/austere minerally/dusty/graphite some blackberry/ Zin/ spicy finish; needs 2-6 yrs age; a rather bizarre Zin w/ lots of things in it; a rough-hewn mountain Zin that may develop into something very interesting. $29.00
  7. VIE Zin BeattyRanch/HowellMtn/NapaVlly (90+ yr old; www.VieWinery.com; 15.6%) 2005:
    Very dark color; rather dusty/old vine closed/tight some blackberry/Zin/peppery/spicy slightly floral/perfumed some toasty/charred/oak cracked black pepper nose; tart/acid/hard/closed some blackberry/spicy/Zin some toasty/charred/oak bit spicy/black pepper tight flavor; med.long tight/hard/closed light toasty/oak slight blackberry/Zin finish;seems pretty tight & closed right now; a pretty classic HowellMtn Zin, much like the Ridges of olden days. $39.00
  8. VIE "L'Etranger" Zin Blend SonomaCnty (60% Zin/TeldeschiRanch, 35% Syrah/LasMadresVnyd, 5% PS/EaglePointRanch; LastLeg Cuvee; 15.3%) 2005: Very dark color; lovely perfumed/blackberry/Syrah/peppery/spicy quite fragrant lightly toasted oak nose; softer but still tart ripe/blackberry/Syrah/spicy/peppery light toasty/oak/pungent some floral/violets
    bit tannic flavor; very long light toasty/oak quite strong blackberry/Syrah/peppery/spicy some tannic finish; needs 2-6 yrs; speaks mostly of Syrah; a lovely perfumed wine w/ good structure and nervosity. $39.00
  9. Carlisle SonomaCnty Zin (15.9%; 430 cs; 51% KuimelisVnyd/AlexVlly, 27% Tanya'sVnyd/RRV, 14% GoldMineRanch/DCV, 6% RossiRanch/SV, 2% BacchiRanch/RRV; U/U; + PS & AB; Drk: 2007-2011) 2005: Dark color; very strong toasty/charred/burnt/oak smokey/coffee strong blackberry/Zin intense nose; very toasty/charred/espresso/burnt strong
    blackberry/Zin spicy/pungent flavor; long charred/oak/smokey/pungent strong spicy/Zin/blackberry finish w/ light tannins; needs a yr or two; most oak I've seen in a Carlisle but plenty of Zin fruit to carry it. Great drinking Zin at a great price. $23.00
  10. Carlisle DryCreekVlly Zin (15.6%; 390 cs; 55% TeldeschiRanch, 24% MountsRanch, 21% GoldMineRanch; U/U; Drk: 2007-2011) 2005: Dark color; beautiful blackberry/boysenberry/ Zinberry/very spicy slight menthol/minty complex nose; tarts loads of ripe/blackberry/ boysenberry/ Zin slight minty/menthol lovely/big/rich/powerful flavor; very long bit tannic big/blackberry/Zinberry slight minty finish; needs 2-6 yrs; a classic Carlisle Zin but still shows that high-toned DryCreekVlly character. $30.50
  11. Carlisle DryCreekVlly Zin GoldMineRanch (15.9%; 135 cs; CharlieDerrick planted in 1914;
    + Carignane; Drk: 2008-2012) 2005
    : Very dark color; beautiful blackberry/boysenberry/Zin very/very spicy some bright/Zinberry/huge fruit no alcoholic nose; tart huge fruit/ blackberry/ boysenberry/Zinberry very spicy light toasty/oak huge but balanced flavor; very long/lingering ripe/blackberry/Zinberry light toasty/oak finish; needs several yrs and should go much longer. Classic Carlisle expression of DryCreekVlly Zin. $34.00
  12. Carlisle RussianRvrVlly Zin BacchiRanch (15.9%; 125 cs; Planted in 1909; U/U; + PS;
    Drk: 2007-2010) 2005
    : Very dark color; deeper more blackberry/peppery/boysenberry light
    toasty/oak quite spicy/peppery complex nose; righ/huge fruit blackberry/boysenberry/chocolaty very spicy/peppery light toasty/oak flavor; very long/lingering some tannic huge blackberry/ boysenberry/chocolate-covered cherries very spicy finish; great intensity and structure; great RRV Zin. $34.00
  13. Carlisle RussianRvrVlly Zin Pietro's (Barbieri)Ranch (15.9%; Planted in 1905;
    Yield: 0.8 tons/acre; + Alicante/GrandNoir/Carignane/Syrah/Grenache/PS; /U; 15.4%;
    Drk: 2008-2012; 245 cs) 2005
    : Black color; beautiful intense old vine/dusty huge fruit/blackberry/ boysenberry/Dr.Pepper/cola slight toasty/oak complex simply stunning nose;tart/rich/extracted/lush intense very spicy/peppery/blackberry/Zin/cola complex dusty/old vine flavor; very long/lingering intense/blackberry/boysenberry/cola slight toasty/oak fairly tannic finish; intense/structured but balanced; needs 3-10 yrs; terrific Zin in all ways. $36.00
  14. Carlisle RussianRvrVlly Zin TomFeeneyRanch (15.9%; Planted in 1926; U/U; 11% Alicante;
    Drk: 2007-2011) 2005
    : Black color; very intense hige fruit/blackberry/boysenberry/Dr.Pepper very spicy/peppery dusty/old vine complex slight minty/menthol/eucalyptus nose; huge fruit/blackberry/ boysenberry/Dr.Pepper very spicy/peppery slight menthol/eucalyptus extracted/structured flavor; very long/lingering very spicy/peppery/huge fruit somewhat tannic/structured slight menthol finish that goes on and on; a simply stunning Zin; easily my favorite of this new bunch of Zins; one of the best Zins I can recall of late. $37.50

Pontifications & Pronouncements from the BloodyPulpit:

1. DryCreekVnyd Zins: These have always been some of my favorite Zins, but since Bill Knuttle came on-board as winemaker, they have been ratcheted up another notch. For those who bitch&moan (not me for sure) about the rising/excessive alcohol levels in today's Zins, these are your wines. And very attractively priced.
2. Hendry: This was a comparison I've been wanting to do for a long time. More or less
equivalently farmed and made Zin vs. Primitivo. I'm not sure what qualifies a wine to be labeled Primitivo these days. Presumably it's made from the Zin clone that was imported from Apulia, but I suspect that sometimes it's done for mere marketing reasons. They are, of course, the same grape. But folks with whom I've talked about Primitivo say they differ vastly in the vnyd. The one side-by-side planting I saw up in Amador certainly looked different. They all seem to prefer Primitivo, that it ripens more evenly, not so much sugar variation within the bunches, less second crop. Certainly from these two wines from George, I far preferred the Primitivo as much more interesting and it showed less heat than the lower alcohol one.
3. VIE: I met Bryan Kane this year at HdR for the first time at the winemaker's luncheon,
so invited him to join us for dinner that night w/ SteveEdmunds. I had looked at his WebSite several months ago and ordered a sample 6-pack of them to try. Coincidently, he had just shipped off my order a few days before. I liked the wines he & asst. Todd Seaver poured at the two tastings quite a bit. I liked them even more in this tasting. Connoisseur's Guide recently reviewed the BeattyRanch Zin and panned it badly, decriding its lack of "berrish fruit" (dohhhh...it IS HowellMtn Zin!!) a labeled it hot and lacking structure and aging fast. I think ol'Charlie blew that one. And he knows very well what HowellMtn Zin is like. Bryan has purchased land in the RedHills of LakeCnty and plans to grow the grapes right, in a very tight planting, rather than aim for high production levels that is the norm up there. I expect he will be making the best wines (finally) to come out of LakeCnty. It will be an interesting journey.
4. HowellMtn Zin: Is a whole nuther breed of cat. Much like SantaCruzMtn Zin, it is usually classic rough-hewn mtn Zin. Ridge used to make several HowellMtn Zins back in the late '70's. They were usually the least attractive wines of each Zin release; not a lot of fruit, a rather earthy character; rough & brawny. But they most usually aged into some absolutely amazing old Zins, though never quite letting go of their rough-hewn character.
5. Carlisle Zins: If there is anybody in Calif making consistently good Zins as these, I certainly can't think of them. I can just see MikeOfficer, hands tucked into his pants pockets, toeing the ground w/ his boot, sheepish grin on his face, saying "Aw shucks...T'warn't nuthin" in the best Kansas accent a SouthernCalif boy can muster up. But every time I taste thru his Zins (which isn't often enough), I just sorta shake my head in wonderment. He seems to keep the winemaking in the background and pretty much lets the vnyd speak for itself. They all are different and even the blends are singular in character. What always amazes me is the high alcohol levels they carry; yet I never detect much heat or volatility in the nose or taste, nor
any of the overripe/raisened character that such ripe grapes normally show. Amazing juice. Amazing folks.
6. Poor Charlie Derrick: He planted his GoldMine vnyd way back in 1914, afore going off to fight WWI in the Calvary..Let's hope he wasn't crucified over there in Europe!! This was a subtle typo in Mike's last NewsLetter that I don't think anybody else caught. Sorry, Mike...but it was soooo funny I couldn't resist sharing it!! :-)
7. Huge Fruit Zins: I had a Zin w/ dinner the other night, fairly alcoholic, with much the same huge fruit character that I find in the Carlisle Zins. But after about a 3'rd of the btl, my palate was beaten to a bloody pulp, totally tired of this over-the-top Zin and thus I cracked open a Friuli Sauvignon to finish off the meal. I can never recall, though, ever having that feeling w/ one of the Carlisle wines. Curious as to exactly why that would be. One lesson I HAVE learned over the yrs, though...never/ never drink a Carlisle wine alone!! All of a sudden, you notice the btl is empty...w/ devastating consequences the next morning. It took me TWICE to figure that one out.
8. Prices of the Carlisles are all direct mailing list prices plus shipping. Interestingly enough, on my last trip to KC I saw a Carlisle on the shelf at Gomer's MidTown (it's pretty rare to sight a Carlisle wine out on the free range) at a price only slightly above mine. Usually the distributors/retailers jack up the price quite a bit on such rare wines. Not so in this case.


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