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amador county


Renwood 2002 Zinfandel “Old Vine” (Amador County) – 15%. Twisted red and black berries fading to pine and layered with too-prominent coconut. This is about half spiced rum at this point. Which isn’t an entirely unusual fate for aging zinfandel, but this was better in its youth. (4/10)

Deux date

[bottle]Folie à Deux 1999 Zinfandel (Amador County) – 15.5%. From the Scott Harvey era, and even though I’d expected it to age based on that alone, I didn’t really intend to hold on to this particular bottle as long as I have. One of the single-site bottlings, perhaps, but this is the entry-level blend. Still, it’s held up pretty well. A little sappier and stickier than I might prefer, and with a concentrated, sloppy smooch of vanilla butter providing discomfort (even under Harvey, this was always a winery that was prone to sloppy overwooding), but the fruit reflects the Amador style: concentrated wild berries grown even more concentrated, almost to the point where they exhibit a resinous quality. It’s good, but drink up for sure. (2/10)

Tulocay for the straight guy

[logo]Tulocay 1999 Zinfandel (Amador County) – 15%. Though this wine will unquestionably age a good deal longer, changing as it does, I’m quite attracted to its present charms…poised on a pinnacle between the boisterous fruit of youth and the textural lavishness of maturity. The berries, dark and spicy, aren’t quite so wild anymore, but neither has the wine edged into one of those realms in which it can be mistaken for a different grape, as so often happens with well-matured zinfandel. I like that stage, too, but there are other ways to get to those places. Zin of this quality (and with these qualities) is something to be cherished on its own merits. (2/10)

Amador, not a bricklayer

Easton 2006 Zinfandel (Amador County) – 14.5%. Leans more to the blueberry and plum side than is typical for Amador zin…there’s not quite so much of the thorny, wild-vine iconoclasm as there has been in other vintages. Perhaps this is what leaves the tannin and acidity a little more exposed, as well. Some time (not a lot) might help knit these elements. Not a bad wine, but not the best Easton’s produced. That said, it’s still one of the highest-quality zins to be had at a non-premium price these days, which is saying something at least. (10/09)

Tulocays walk into a bar…

[logo]Tulocay 2001 Zinfandel (Amador County) – Jeez, this is good. Full-throated black fruit, all wild vines and tangled pulp, without being over the top or tricked-up in any way. There’s tannin and acidity in the background, both lesser components but providing sufficient support for all else. Evidence suggests this will continue to age and develop for some time, with the current hints of black pepper fanning out into a wider mélange of spices and soil characteristics. (5/09)


Easton 2006 Zinfandel (Amador County) – Forward fruit with some stick and tack, its berries redder and a little more syruped than might be expected (the wine isn’t heavy, though it is big), its structure mostly hand-waved, its finish a diminuendo of simplicity. It’s zin. It’s very, very, very cleanly-made. It’s good, but read between the lines. Or, read the lines themselves. Either’s good. (4/09)

Tulocay, three to go

[tree]Tulocay 1999 Zinfandel (Amador County) – 15%. And: wow. I remember drinking zin like this. Ridge used to make it, and then we’d let it age, and much later on it would taste like this. Rolling tumblers of soft red fruit, spice (mostly of the baking genre, though there are various hues of pepper as well), earth, cinnamon cap mushrooms, and that delicious sensation of fruit-weight so crucial to zin, but without the all-too-common burn of Scotch on the finish. Long. I’d call this at very early maturity, but with emphasis on the mature aspect. More, please. (3/09)

When it was 2006, it was a zinfandel year

Easton 2006 Zinfandel (Amador County) – Upon first opening, a huge rush of bubbles and massive volatility seems to indicate an in-bottle refermentation. I put it aside and open something else. Two days later, it’s still a little prickly. A full week later, at room temperature – something I would not generally recommend – it has come into full form, shedding some of the wood along with the volatiles and knitting itself into a far more cohesive and more “winy” wine, full of dark, wild berries and that pine bark-edged touch of pruniness, twisted and sauvage, that so often seems to mark the region. I’m not sure what was going on at first opening, though. (1/09)

Easton down, Easton down the road

Easton 2006 Zinfandel (Amador County) – 14.5%. Suave zinfandel, carrying its weight with ease, and dressing up its usual tangled-vine Amador gnarliness in a fine, tailored suit…which it wears well. Those for whom differential character in zins is the primary goal will be slightly disappointed in this wine, but it’s very hard to criticize it from any other perspective, as it could hardly be more sluggable. (10/08)

Big Tulocay country

Tulocay 2001 Zinfandel (Amador County) – 15.7%. Based on the color, I’d think about drinking this. Based on the palate, I’d wait. Based on the structure, I’d have to choose against Caol Ila. How to solve this dilemma? Twisted, back-country berries and black pepper-dominated spice mark the wine’s unmistakable origin, but there’s a little more heat than usual (even for often-fiery Amador zin), and a lot of spirituous invective. As a pure expression of “fuck you” Californicated aggression towards even its most spiritually native of grapes, it’s a triumphant achievement, and I honestly do admire it for that quality. I even enjoy it on those terms. As a wine in the greater world of such beverages, however, it’s a bit much. (10/08)