Browse Tag


Old faithful

Ridge 1996 Geyeserville (Sonoma County) – Coconut and cocoa spice, with espresso and chocolate following. Big, jammy blackberry fills out the rest. This is starting to mature, though I’d like a little more fruit and a little less of the window-dressing. (1/08)


[vineyard]Easton 2006 Zinfandel (Amador County) – Reliably fruity and vine-y, its twisty palate a result of grapes that have been goofing around rather than studying Dadaism. There’s very little a zin should have that’s not present here, and while it’s fairly straightforward, it holds on to a varietal purity that grows increasingly rare in these days of tricked-and-tarted volume wines. (12/07)

Fiddletown while Rome burns

[label]Easton 2003 Zinfandel “Old Vines” (Fiddletown) – 14.5%. Spicy black pepper, thick and structured, with black cherry, pine, cedar and good acidity. It’s very wood-primary right now, but I expect that to absorb (somewhat) with age. Still, the collection of various trees has me slightly concerned about the wine’s overall balance. At the least, it’s worth keeping an eye on. (5/07)

Estate planning

[label]Easton 2002 “Estate” Zinfandel (Shenandoah Valley) – 15.1%. Bigger, with a more silken texture than the Fiddletown. There’s cedar, dark black pepper, tar and asphalt, with chocolate added on a finish that’s a little more abrupt than I’d like. However, I think there’s plenty of potential here…the wine just needs time. That said, it’s a little more “worked” than the Fiddletown, and it shows. (5/07)

How Dry is my Valley?

[vines]Nalle 2004 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – Juicy red fruit with a great deal of refreshing acidity, like a series of berries bursting with early-summer crispness. The wine hints at fruity exotica, but this proves to be a feint, and the only other noticeable aroma is a faint dusting of coconut. This wine seems unusually advanced for its age, in that the edges seem to have eroded away, leaving a naked core of sharp fruit, but that could just be Nalle going through its usual aging curve. Thanks to the acid, it’s very, very good with food. (12/07)

True Grist

[vineyard]Bradford Mountain 2003 Zinfandel Grist (Dry Creek Valley) – Very concentrated, perhaps overly so…it’s not big (for a zin), it’s just sort of a neutron star of a wine, with everything in a tiny little volume of gravitational singularity. There’s a good deal of dark, toasty oak spice, but that too is drawn inward. For all this, it manages to be a pleasant drink, but it needs the right food (something equally concentrated) to avoid being somewhat like a spirituous reduction of zinfandel. (11/07)

Lytton Hewitt

[map]Ridge 1998 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) – Draper’s note suggests to drink this nowish, and I think he’s right, though the spicy coconut oak hasn’t faded as much as one might like in a “mature” Lytton Springs. The fruit is clearly drying up, and while it’s still a warm and tasty festival of dark berries, the cracks and seams are unquestionably showing. (11/07)

Robles wobble

[map]Ridge 1999 Zinfandel Paso Robles (Paso Robles) – From the Dusi Ranch, though not the Dusi bottling. It’s odd to find a Ridge label confusing, but this one always has me shaking my head…not that I don’t understand it, I just find it a triumph of marketability (“Paso Robles”) over the usual Ridge site-specificity. Anyway…this is powerful and zingy, with razor-slashes of edgy dark-berry fruit that sizzle and spark as they pass. I’m sure it can age longer, but it’s in a really exciting place now. (11/07)

[bottles]Hobo 2005 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – Almost a throwback, with almost frothy wild berry fruit and a generally non-aggressive demeanor. However, the middle’s hollow. Perhaps filling that gap is what leads to the more modern, somewhat overdriven style. Not bad, not great. (11/07)

Karly sign, mon

Karly 2003 Zinfandel “Buck’s Ten Point” (Amador Country) – 14.5%. Tight, dried-berry Amador wildness; call it blackened zin without the Cajun spicing. Fruit tends towards blackberry and other less common, tiny and slightly bitter berries, with a slight whiskey burn that somehow doesn’t offend. It lacks ambition, but it’s tasty enough. (8/07)