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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.

Petite Sirah and Zin - January 30, 2008


We tasted last week (1/30/08) some PetiteSirah and Zin:

  1. Ridge Calif Zinfandel DusiRanch/PasoRobles/SLOCnty (15.3%; 47 brls; 80 yr old vines; Drk: 10/06-10/11-10/12) 2005: Dark color; slight volatile very fragrant blackberry/jammy/Zin/ boysenberry some dusty/old vine bit cedary/Draper perfume nose; soft very strong blackberry/ boysenberry/Paso Zin/jammy some toasty/oak flavor; very long rich/lush very strong blackberry/ boysenberry/jammy/ Zin finish w/ some tannins; needs several yrs; a classic Ridge Paso w/ a bit more fruit and richness and structure than the regular; maybe the best Ridge Dusi Zin yet. $28.00
  2. Ridge Calif Zinfandel PasoRobles DusiRanch/PasoRobles/SLOCnty (15.2%; Drk: 10/06-10/11-10/12) 2005: Dark color; strong blackberry/boysenberry/jammy/PasoZin bit lighter/elegant bit more complex/earthy nose; softer/rounder more elegant/spicy lighter blackberry/boysenberry/ jammy/Zin flavor w/ less oak; med.long ripe/jammy/blackberry/PasoZin finish w/light tannins; a good-drinking/ knock-it-back Paso Zin. $28.00
  3. Bucklin OldHillRanch/SonomaVlly Bambino Zinfandel (14.8%; 10 acre block planted in 1998;
    +AlicanteBouschet/PS/Grenache; ww.BuckZin.com; 545 cs) 2006
    : Dark color; ripe blackberry/ Zin/spicy some toasty/oak attractive nose; tart/bright very spicy/blackberry/Zin some toasty/ charred/oak straightforward Zin flavor; med.long ripe/blackberry/Zin some oak finish w/ light
    tannins; a pleasant fore-square/straightforward Zin at a fair price. $25.00
  4. Medusa OldVine Zinfandel PigPenVnyd/DeaverRanch/AmadorCnty (planted in 1978; Hrvstd: Sept 21;100% FrenchOak for 8 mo; 303 cs; 14.4%; www.MedusaWines.com)Rob&Lynda Mondavi/Paul&Patti Hoffman 2004: Med.light color; very ripe/blackberry/briary/AmadorZin light toasty/Fr.oak nose; very light AmadorZin/briary/blackberry fairly strong/toasty/Fr.oak rather washed-out/light flavor; med.short rather lean/tight fairly toasty/Fr.oak slight Amador/briary/Zin/
    ripe finish; has lots of ripeness but rather washed out and innocuous on the palate; given the very ripe flavors, would guess it's been RO'd, but that's not the reason for it being such a bland/dull wine; overpriced at $28.00
  5. DryCreekVnyd DryCreekVlly PetiteSirah (13.4%; Winemaker: DaveStare/LarryLevin)1987: Black color w/little bricking; beautiful perfumed/spicy/peppery/licorice some cedary/cigar box/oak/pencilly very complex nose; round/smooth/polished/balanced very spicy/licorice/peppery some cedary/pencilly/oak quite complex flavor w/ light tannins; very long/lingering licorice/ peppery/pungent very spicy fairly cedary/cigar box very complex smooth/polished finish w/ light tannins;no signs of drying out at all; one of those rare old Calif reds that has come together in a beautiful manner; one more btl left. Great price at $8.00.
  6. RosenblumCllrs NapaVlly PetiteSirah (StGeorgeVnyd/StHelena/70+ yr old vines; BarbareasVnyd/ Calistoga/60+ yr ol vines; SaH: 23.6%; Bttld: March'89; U/U; 13.4%) 1987:Med.dark color w/ little bricking; slight funky/horsecollar possibly bretty strong cedar/cigar box some spicy/peppery/fruity/blackberry some complex nose; soft/smooth some Rosenblum/lush spicy/blackberry/fruity/lush slight funky/wet dog fur rather strong cedary/cigar box/pencilly bit complex flavor; med.long spicy/peppery/licorice fairly smooth/balanced somewhat cigar box/pencilly finish w/ light tannins; no signs of drying out and still has some of that classic Rosenblum lushness; a bit more faded than the DCV but still a pleasure to drink. $7.00
  7. CedarvilleVnyd SierraFoothills/ElDorado PetiteSirah (NaylorVnyd; 150 cs; 14.7%) 2003: Very dark/black color; lovely very spicy/peppery/licorice bit pungent/smokey light toasty/oak slight
    cedary nose; soft lush blackberry/peppery/licorice some earthy/mushroomy rather tannic very
    attractive flavor; long rather tannic lovely spicy/blackberry/peppery light earthy/mushroomy
    light toasty/oak finish w/ fair tannins; still needs several yrs at least. $24.00
  8. Cedarville PetiteSirah NaylorVnyd/SierraFoothills/ElDorado (15.5%; 220 cs) 2004:Black color; bit more spicy/licorice slightly less blackberry/fruity slight toasty/oak some mushroomy/
    ElDorado terroir very attractive nose; soft big/ripe/extracted rather tannic blackberry/
    boysenberry/peppery some toasty/oak slight earthy/mushroomy strong flavor; long big/tannic/rich
    blackberry/peppery/licorice/PS some toasty/oak finish; still needs much age but should be a great one down the road. $22.50
  9. CedarvilleVnyd PetiteSirah NaylorVnyd/SierraFoothills/ElDorado (14.7%; 275 cs;
    www.CedarvilleVineyard.com) 2005
    : Black color; very intense chocolaty/licorice/peppery/PS/
    blackberry/boysenberry some toasty/charred/oak huge nose; soft rich/ripe/extracted/tannic
    licorice/peppery/chocolaty/PS some toasty/charred/oak flavor; very long big/extracted/tannic
    peppery/licorice/chocolaty/ripe PS some toasty/oak finish w/ huge tannins; a huge/extracted PS that needs 5-10 yrs of age; should be a great one down the road. $24.00
  10. WaltzingBear BUD PetiteSirah FrenchCampVnyd/SLOCnty (15.1%; www.WaltzingBear Wines.com) BradLowman/Winemaker 2004: Black color; some volatile/alcoholic very ripe/ overripe/plummy/boysenberry/blackberry rather framboise/licorice very perfumed huge fruit nose; big/huge very intense framboise/liquer/blackberry bit alcoholic/overripe soft/fat some tannic flavor; very long intense framboise/blackberry/boysenberry/huge fruit soft/very ripe bit tannic finish w/
    some tannins; may age into something interesting but huge fruit.
  11. Turley PetiteSirah TurleyEstate/NapaVlly (14.5%) 2005: Black color; beautiful intense
    boysenberry/peppery/DrPepper/licorice/chocolaty some toasty/oak/charred huge nose; soft huge fruit/boysenberry/blackberry/DrPepper rather strong charred/toasty/Fr.oak beautiful powerful
    flavor; very long lush/blackberry/DrPepper/licorice/chocolaty/peppery quite toasty/charred/oak
    finish w/ ample tannins; loads of blackberry/peppery/PS character; fairly priced at $42.50
  12. Turley PititeSirah LibraryVnyd/NapaVlly (14.5%) 2005: Black color; bit closed/tight very
    peppery/cracked black pepper slight funky/pungent some toasty/oak very interesting nose; tart
    somewhat hard/tight very cracked black pepper/spicy some blackberry rather toasty/oak flavor w/
    ample tannins; very long quite peppery/cracked black pepper rather toasty/charred/oak quite
    tannic finish; needs 5-15 yrs; huge wine w/ loads of cracked pepper character; very good value
    at $43.00.
  13. Turley PetiteSirah RattlesnakeRidge/HowellMtn (14.1%) 2005: Black color; beautiful cracked
    black pepper/very spicy/blackberry/boysenberry very toasty/charred/Fr.oak some dusty/old vines
    bit complex nose; big/huge/extracted rather dusty/old vines classic cracked black pepper/peppery/
    blackberry/boysenberry/PS rather toasty/oak some complex flavor; very long/lingering hard/tannic/
    extracted some cracked black pepper/boysenberry/very spicy some dusty/old vines rather toasty/oak finish; huge/extracted PS that needs 5-15 yrs of age; will be a great one; very reasonably priced at $48.50
  14. Turley PetiteSirah HayneVnyd/NapaVlly (15.2%) 2005: Black color; huge/intense boysenberry/
    blackberry/chocolaty/PS/peppery/licorice very aromatic/perfumed complex/dusty/old vines nose;
    tart huge/extracted/tannic intense boysenberry/blackberry/peppery/licorice/chocolaty slight
    toasty/oak some complex flavor; very long/lingering tannic/extracted huge fruit/blackberry/
    boysenberry/licorice slight pungent/toasty/oak slight dusty/old vines complex finish; a huge
    PS in the style of the Ridge YorkCreek '71 or FreemarkAbbey or CarnerosCreek. Not so attractively
    priced at $80.00.

And the usual mental detritus found in TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Ridge Paso Zins: This was an interesting comparison of two Zins. The DusiRanch/ATP had more fruit & intensity and more structure than the regular Paso. It may be the best Dusi Zin in a number of yrs. Usually, the Dusi/ATP is a (much) riper version of the regular Paso. In this
case, they're about the same ripeness level, but the Dusi/ATP is just more intense and more
structure than usuall get from them.

I've followed the Ridge Paso/Dusi Zins from the very start in the mid-'70's. I very much disliked those early ones. They were down around 12%-13% alcohol and displayed a rigid/ chalky/austere character that I couldn't like. They were probably being made as an ageworthy Zin, rather than a lush/in-your-face/jammy Zin that Paso does so well. Now winemaker Eric Baugher just seems to let Dusi be Dusi and if they don't age like LS or Geezer, so be it.
2. DryCreekVnyd PS: I've always liked DaveStare's PS's over the yrs. They've been pretty intense/black wines, but w/ good spicy fruit and have never veered off into the direction of oafish. Still, I had pretty low expectations when I cracked this wine. Whatta surprise. It was one of those very rare Calif PS's that has come together to make a wonderful old PS. Maybe a Calif PS doesn't have to be 15%-16% to mature into a beauty?? Just got in the '03 version from their VSP and can hardly wait to try it.
3. Cedarville PS: I've always been a fan of Susan's and Jonathan's wines because it's one of the best Syrahs made in the Sierra Foothills. I've tended to overlook their PS because that's not a variety I'm a big fan of. But tasting all three of these together made a believer outta me. Even though they're big/extracted wines, they have a balance to them that I think will reward those with the patience to age. I expect they'll equal the DryCreek PS at 20 yrs of age. I'll be there taking data points.
4. WaltzingBear: This PS was a wine given to me in a swap for a Juffurs PS with BarryRossum.
FrenchCamp is a vnyd of the MillerBros out on the EastSide of PasoRobles. Pretty warm area it
is. This wine was fairly typical of some of the wines I've had from there in that they can often
be on the soft/fat side and lacking in structure. Though a bit on the overripe side, this had
a huge framboise/liquer character to it that I really liked. Have my doubts that it'll age beyond a few yrs. Winemaker is Brad Lowman, inspired by BobSenn, who inspired quite of few of us by his knowledge and passion for things vinous in SantaBarbara.
5. Turley PS: Actually, I find I like the Turley PS about the best from their portfolio. They
seldom are as alcoholic as the Zins and seem to me better structured for aging. Although the
Hayne is always their blockbuster PS, I think the other PS's are nearly as good and much more reasonably priced. This foursome of PS's was a pretty outstanding showing by Turley.
6. When I was out in SantaBarbara a few weeks ago w/ Susan & her Mom, stopped by Jaffurs to get my first shot of the ThompsonVnyd PS '06 Archibald Cuvee. Usually that's
been released in the Winter but they've decided this time to give it a bit more barrel
age, will btl it fairly soon, and will release it this Fall. It's a pretty stunning PS...one of the
best made in Calif IMHO. And it's all because of the guy who gets the earwig duty in its
making. The pay's not so hot and he wears these ugly Hawaiian shirts, but he gets all the earwigs he can eat as a fringe bennie.


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