Browse Tag



Ridge 2002 Zinfandel Ponzo (Russian River Valley) – A fine blend of berries and coniferous underbrush, pure-fruited yet just complex and peppery enough for sustained interest. While the fruit has more transformation to go, I think this is about at its optimum point regarding aromatic/structural balance. (8/12)

The Storrs aren’t all closed

Storrs 1998 Zinfandel Lion Oaks (Santa Clara County) – 15.6%. The last bottle of what was once a mighty stash, and the crisp acidity that always carried the wine remains, while the fruit has drifted diagonally towards an airy alpine berry realm, while the wood – always present – has almost entirely converted to spice, providing a more pleasant approach to the wine’s essential character. This will be missed. (8/12)


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)


Sextant 2008 Zinfandel (Central Coast) – 14.8%. Like drinking jam. I don’t mean it’s “jammy” in the wine geek sense of the word, which requires greater density than this wine carries, I mean it’s like someone liquefied jam (straining the seeds) and then bottled it as zinfandel. (7/12)

Waterless bed

Dashe 2006 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – Muscular, but its structure is just beginning to turn graphite-like, which makes the wine feel a bit lighter than it actually is. And it’s not light. Dark boysenberry and olallieberry, little shocks of black dirt and peppercorn, and a pleasant leafiness somewhere in the foundation; this is very confident zinfandel. (7/12)

Not so Swift

Orin Swift 2009 Zinfandel “Saldo” (California) – 15.1%. Dark, almost gelatinous fruit, with a thick, sticky balsamic glaze to it. The alcohol is prominent, for sure, both in its volatile form and as sheer weight. In shape and function, it satisfies a taste in wine that is decidedly not mine. (7/12)

Lubenko of America

Sobon Estate 2005 Zinfandel Lubenko (Fiddletown) – 15.1%. Dark pineberry fruit, parchment tannin, and brittle acidity. Sobon is a producer whose wines rarely reach the pinnacles for me, yet this is a more exciting effort than I’m used to from them. There’s some extra peppery verve to it, and that coniferous aroma is exactly what one expects from the region. I really like this. (7/12)

Sobon Estate 2005 Zinfandel Lubenko (Fiddletown) – 15.1%. Absolutely identical in every possible way. Thank the closure. (7/12)

Stone in love

Ridge 2002 Zinfandel Stone Ranch (Sonoma County) – 5% petite sirah, 14.8% alcohol. Quite woody, and it’s the kind of woodiness that’s not going to get better. Ridge zins have a terrific history of melding with their oak (that they ever shed or fully integrate it is, with rare exceptions, a myth; that “Draper perfume” is mostly aging wood), and with many such wines one just needs to submit to the proper patience, but this has already turned the corner towards oblivion. It’s not there yet, but the dark boysenberry jam – past maturity into a heavy, almost syrupy realm – is overwhelmed by coconut. Aging recommendations on Ridge labels, always so precise, can usually withstand a fair bit of extension, but this wine likely did not qualitatively outlast its drink-by date, which is a fair number of years in the past by now. (3/12)

Ridge 2002 Zinfandel Stone Ranch (Sonoma County) – Absolutely identical to the previous bottle, albeit just a slight touch smokier. Call it a confirmation. (5/12)


Franz Hill 2006 Zinfandel Big And Little (Napa Valley) – 14.5%. By-the-numbers, with a little more lacticity than I’d like, some of the Napa zin severity I don’t, and a narrow wedge of juiced blackberries that does not suffice to overcome the wine’s externalities. (2/12)

Oak Boys

Ridge 1995 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – 62% zinfandel. Oak perfume (I refuse to call Paul Draper a barrel, or even a tree), dust, and sweat. Silky blackberries on a bed of seeds and rocks. This is a wine at the perfect midpoint between post-primary fruit and maturity, with neither wresting the majority. (11/11)