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There once was a wine from Nantucket

[bottle]Limerick Lane 2002 Zinfandel Collins (Russian River Valley) – 14.6%. On the bigger, hotter side of zin, but by no means unduly hot in context. Wild boysenberry and raspberry dominate, with soda notes in the mix, and a peppery, zingy finish that shows strapping acidity. A good wine, but it needs strong-willed food to tame its more aggressive notions. (7/07)

Nalle for one

Nalle 2003 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – 13.8%. Elegant and supple (two words rarely used to describe a zin), with gently rolling berries and a grapey interior, plus some soft, earthy layers underneath. Very pretty. (8/07)

This Oro that

Montevina “Terra d’Oro” Zinfandel “Port” (Amador County) – The usual late-harvest zin problem with overwhelming volatile acidity has been mostly tamed here, though there is a remnant. Perhaps the zin wasn’t all that late-harvest to begin with; certainly it has softer, lusher, more red-berried aromas than one would expect from Amador. Somewhat lugubrious, but pleasant enough. (8/07)

TN: Stoner

[label]Medusa 2004 “Old Vine” Zinfandel Lover’s Lane (Mendocino) – This comes with a sporty black extruded synthetic cork, but the wine’s not nearly that ominous. It’s powerfully oaky for the first half-hour or so, but later it relaxes into something more approachable (and in fact, the oak mostly lurks in the deep background), showing juicy red-fruited acidity and freshly-crushed berries with a preserved maraschino topnote. It’s a little herky-jerky right now, and I don’t know if it’s got enough internal integrity to solve itself, but if it does it will always be a higher-acid zin, which isn’t unwelcome in these overheated times. (6/07)

TN: Old faithful

Ridge 1994 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – Fully given over to the “Draper perfume” of refined yet lurid American oak, old zinfandel’s baked-briar-patch berries, and soft, tongue-caressing solids. The old berry, animal, wood and earth aromas here mingle in a misty autumnal haze, breathing and pulsing with polished authority. A beautiful old zin. This, unlike a previous (Ridge-sourced library selection) bottle, is completely ready to go. (6/07)

TN: Bella up to the bar

[label]Bella 2004 Zinfandel Big River Ranch (Alexander Valley) – 15%. Huge. Thick blackberry and boysenberry sludge with plenty of spreadable oak, yet it’s “balanced” in that strange, youthful-but-ageable zin fashion. It’s a bit much to take right now, but with a decade or so, I think pretty much everyone will be happy. It tastes a lot like a Dashe zin, or a Ridge, and there’s a reason for that… (6/07)

TN: Ridge line

Ridge 1992 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – Cedar and roasted coconut over zingy red cherries and oat bran. Richly-spiced and mildly tannic, with a pecan-skin punch to the finish. Yet this wine is clearly in the early stages of its decline, showing telltale signs of softness amidst the defiance and lingering aromatics. Drink a few years ago for maximum pleasure. (5/07)

TN: Quivira-ing with anticipation

[grapes]Quivira 2002 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – Good, sun-roasted berry flavors with a thickening paste of syrupy wood. Why molest good fruit this way? The wine’s not bad for uncritical quaffing, but keener palates won’t enjoy trying to penetrate the sludgy perimeter. (5/07)

TN: A Ridge too far

[lytton springs tasting room]Ridge 2005 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) – Highly-perfumed coconut, spicy dark red fruit and an impenetrable wall of embryonic formlessness. This is way, way, way too young. There’s the vague sense that things are in balance and thus ageability is suggested, but it’s honestly just too early to tell. (4/07)