Browse Tag

sonoma valley


Ridge 2001 Zinfandel Pagani Ranch (Sonoma Valley) – 88% zinfandel, 8% alicante bouschet, 4% petite sirah. 15.4% alcohol, and brining every bit of that alcohol to the table on its eleventh birthday. This is pretty regularly my least favorite of Ridge’s “primary” zinfandel blends, though I suspect that the qualities that sometimes turn me off (excess alcohol, pruney fruit) are exactly what appeals to lovers of that periodically popular form of the grape. This is dark, grapey, plummy, and then it works itself into reduced boysenberry syrups and such that quickly reduce its appeal. The burn follows. I also wonder if holding it this long may have contributed to my ambivalence. (8/12)

Deux rell

Edmunds St. John 1995 Syrah Durell (Sonoma Valley) – Corked, I think. No obvious TCA on the nose, but it’s so muted and suppressed, despite an obvious surge of both structure and fruit somewhere within, that I can’t figure out what else it might be. This is the second bottle from the same stash that has been like this, so maybe the fault lies elsewhere. Whatever the cause, it’s a shame. (9/11)

Edmunds St. John 1995 Syrah Durell (Sonoma Valley) – Long believed to be a myth, a hoax, a legend, and yet here it is: a mature ’95 Durell. I never thought I’d see the day. Meat, soil, wilted muscle, and deep red light in a slow-moving whirlpool of…hey, does anyone remember that semi-horrid old Disney flick The Black Hole? Remember the special-effects visualization of said singularity? (No? Go Google it.) It tastes like that. But better. Much, much better. (10/11)

Tom the slasher

Ravenswood 1996 Zinfandel Old Hill (Sonoma Valley) – The lingering remnants of the time when Ravenswood made great wines are wending their way towards the great aquifer in the sky ground, and so they need to be savored on their increasingly rare appearances. Alas that this isn’t one. Volatile acidity (at Carlisle-like levels, mind), blackberry, dusty earth, and a whole lot of desiccation. Texturally anti-quenching, and beyond fully mature, even from the glacial cellar whence this comes. (9/10)

Durell hand cream

Edmunds St. John 1993 Syrah Durell (Sonoma Valley) – Glacially-cellared, and this was in mind as we opened the wine, because in retrospect I’m not sure I’ve ever had a Durell syrah that I thought was fully mature. This one gave its best effort, though, and is the closest I’ve come. Very masculine, all rippling muscles and five o’clock shadow, wrapping dark blackberry residue in leather and tarnished metal buckles. Lingers, a very long while. Very, very good. (8/10)

Durell hand cream

Edmunds St. John 1995 Syrah Durell (Sonoma Valley) – 14.4%. Such a deep purple it’s like drinking a Jon Lord keyboard solo. Still very structured, with fine balance but with its cards held very close to its chest. It takes about five minutes to unwind from a cranky and difficult opening, and then it just sits there, unchanging, for hours. And hours. A touch of volatile acidity eventually develops in the glass, but it’s minor and non-hyper-sensitives probably won’t even notice it. Five to ten more years, at least, are required here; it’s certainly not in a generous mood at the moment. (3/10)


Wellington 2004 Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley) – 14.8%. Dark fruit infused with dark chocolate and coconut oak; as basic a recipe for zin as has ever been attempted. As such, it goes down easy and in utter disinterest. (6/09)

A Cooke’s tour

[logo]Ravenswood 1995 Zinfandel Cooke (Sonoma Valley) – 15.2%. Blackberry, pepper, and caramel (more a sign of age than something more sinister). The tannin’s slightly weedy. A hammer-blow, ultra-masculine wine, good but choppy and unwilling to be tamed. I’m not sure, given the tannin, there’s much of a future, either. Drink soon. (3/09)

Durell Owens

Edmunds St. John 1994 Syrah Durell (Sonoma Valley) – Corked. Holy crap, is this corked. It’s like an entire year’s worth of TCA took up residence in this bottle. (3/09)

Copain, no gain

[vine]Copain 2004 Zinfandel Arrowhead Mountain (Sonoma Valley) – 14.5%. $39.99. Not as heavy as it seems at first sniff, but ponderous, with a thick layer of oak that pretty much obliterates the sludgy fruit. Young Ridge tastes like this, and the wine is otherwise restrained, so it could very well age beautifully. It certainly isn’t any fun to drink now. And the price is…aggressive. But I’d hold it with cautious optimism, and for a while. (8/08)

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