Browse Tag


It’s that little souvenir

Storybook Mountain 2007 Zinfandel Napa Estate (Mayacamas Range) – 14.6%. Disclaimer first: I am not, as a rule, a fan of Napa zinfandel (finding it over-structured and under-pleasurable), but Storybook has long been the primary exception. This rides a line between the exception and the rule, with dark berries (fresh with geysering ripeness) turned linear and solid by a near-straitjacket of mostly tannic structure. I think, like many wines from this estate, it will reward aging. (7/11)

Caught a code

Revenant 2008 Zinfandel Morse (Sonoma County) – Yes, it’s zin. Frothy fruit (not sparkling in any way, but tactile in the manner of Pop Rocks), some coconut, a bit of spiritousness. More restrained than, say, the sometimes painfully forced version that are exploding from Lodi and other less expensive terroirs these days, but while I generally consider restraint and zin to be welcome partners, I’m not sure much has been done with that restraint. There’s nothing particular wrong here, but one can do a lot better elsewhere. (6/11)

They call the wind

Sanctuary 2008 Zinfandel Mariah (Mendocino Ridge) – 14.6%. Coconut-infused berries, the sharp bite of acidity, a wash of wood, everything in place and proper. No more (or less) than that. (6/11)

Ride it

Ridge 2006 Zinfandel East Bench (Sonoma County) – 14.9%. Chunky and difficult, which is probably just a stage; this has been much more expressive in the recent past, and there’s no sign that this is falling apart yet. What’s showing now is dust, both the mineralistic and dried-berry kind, with a resinous texture and several dashes of coconutty oak…though the latter is rounding into something more vanilla-y. I’d say this needs a few more years to come out of its shell, but other bottles may perform differently. (5/11)


Easton 1998 Zinfandel “Estate” (Shenandoah Valley) – 15.1%. I drank through a fair quantity of this in lingering disappointment, as it never seemed to budge from its youthful expression of fulsome, arboreal fruitiness no matter how many years passed. Well, I think I’ve found the magic number, or at least this particular bottle has. Well into a developed stage of autumnal arbor, with meat and herb waving from the horizon. It’s still fruity, but the wild black juiciness is tempered by an encrustation of black pepper. And frankly, the alcohol is virtually unnoticeable; so much so that based on organoleptic evidence alone, I’d have guessed something much lower (looking at the wine’s adhesiveness to a glass tells a different story, but that’s cheating). This is a lot more interesting now than it was. (5/11)

-ing to and fro’

Dashe 2007 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – Dark little berries, each one offering a tiny explosion of slightly tannic fruit, in a twisted-vine broth of surprising structural lightness; the overall effect is thus one of heft without overt density, of strength without force. Aside from a little dusting of black pepper, it lacks the further complexities one expects from the very best zinfandels, but it delivers everything – fruit, acid, just enough structure – one wants from the grape, without the baggage of booze and volatility that so often hitchhikes. I think it will age for a few years, if one is so-inclined. (9/10)

Blow it open

Ridge 1999 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – 14.8%. Bottle variations has been strong with this wine of late, and here is no exception. Brutish and still angrily-structured, this hasn’t delivered itself of dark purple fruit yet, though there’s bubbling-under set of pepper dusts and earthen tones,. While the “Draper perfume” of soft oak is evident, it is quite subordinate to fruit and structure at the moment. Bottles like this will age for quite a few years yet. And some are ready to go. (2/11)


Limerick Lane 2001 Zinfandel Collins (Russian River Valley) – 14.6%. I suppose this isn’t yet old, but it’s showing signs of being one of those zins that holds rather than ages. The fruit’s a little more syrupy than it was, though still in the dark berry and black pepper realm, but for that texture it has given up some of its overall weight and presence in both good and bad ways…less palate impact, but also less prominent alcohol. It has not, it’s worth noting, completely shed any impression of the latter, but it also hasn’t eroded to the point where the alcohol shoots forth, as some maturing zins do. It’s a good enough wine, but I’m not sure there was great value in cellaring it. I’ve another bottle, though, and will let it sit for a while longer, to see if there’s anything on the way. (2/11)


Sierra Vista 2000 Zinfandel “Old Clone” (El Dorado) – 14.6%. Crisping but shriveled berries, dark earth, pine needles, and a spine of slender but embittered wood. Drink up. (12/10)

Old El

Ridge 2005 Zinfandel (Paso Robles) – 15.2% alcohol, 100% zinfandel from Dusi Ranch. Wood of the vanilla/coconut variety still dominates, though there’s a hefty density of concentrated blackberry and boysenberry pushing against the wooden perimeter. There’s still a future here…a better one…but the wine’s definitely no longer quite as primary as it was. (12/10)