Browse Tag


Zabaco noir

Rancho Zabaco 2007 Zinfandel “Sonoma Heritage Vines” (Sonoma County) – 14.9%. Very simplistic and bearing the hallmarks of confection…very primary and singular dark berries with no complexity or life. It’s entirely competent wine, but entirely uninteresting as a result. (11/10)

While Rome burns

Renwood 2001 Zinfandel (Fiddletown) – 15%. I’d say this is approaching the end of its useful life, but inherent in that would be the suggestion that the wine has changed since release. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t. It’s always been on the raw side, which is not an unusual thing for a Fiddletown zin to be, bringing pine and concentrated boysenberry syrup into a tight cylinder of slightly mean fruit and then surrounding it with some sort of fruit liqueur. For all I know, this will age…or, perhaps more accurately, last…for another decade. Or two. Or ten. I dunno. Anyway, drinking it now brings me one step closer to ridding my cellar of Renwood, for reasons mostly (though not entirely) unrelated to wine quality, and that’s a good thing. (11/10)

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)

Sobon mot

Sobon Estate 2008 Zinfandel “Old Vines” (Amador County) – 14.9%. A reliably slightly-better-than-mediocre bargain zin, here a little better than that. Wiry and brambly, with the pine woodsy character of the region, and as much bite as it has (at least in my memory) ever shown. Tasty, though it neither demands nor offers much. (9/10)

A regular blowing of cork

Ridge 1999 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – 14.8%. Corked. (8/10)

Ridge 1999 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – 14.8%. Unlike the last few bottles, which have been more or less on the early side of ready, this is years from that state. Coconut, blackberry juice, dust, primary tannin. Tastes like a 2004 (well, except for the fact that the 2004 can be an overwooded yak-fest) more than a 1999. This bottle should have been left to sleep for another five or ten years. (10/10)


Hobo 2008 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Vallley) – 14.7%. Grainy and fuzzy, its (decent enough) black fruit and strappy, faux-leather structure clenched into a pixilated fist. On the other hand, it’s not really worth that level of verbiage. It’s fruity with some structure. A little dark. (8/10)

Peay in a cup

Edmunds St. John 2001 Zinfandel Peay (Sonoma County) – 15.2%, and unfortunately volatile acidity has completely taken over. Other bottles (and tasters) may experience different results, but for me this is undrinkable, alas; I very much enjoyed the penultimate bottle (which was tasted just a few years ago), but this is my last one and so I guess I’m unlikely to taste an intact version again. (8/10)

Dolan heights

Paul Dolan 2007 Zinfandel (Mendocino County) – Zinfandel, yes. Yes it is. A little more acid, a little less coconut, more or less berryish. It’s…fine. (8/10)

Lytton tea

Ridge 2006 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) – I taste each new vintage of Ridge’s flagship zinfandels with an increasing sense of despair. Not because the wines are bad – they’re not, though there is the occasional vintage-by-vintage failure – but because they’ve become so anonymously tiring. Here we have bubblegummy fruit (not fully grenache-like, but still), coconut, toast, and a ton of obvious alcohol. Nothing to set it apart from dozens of other reasonable-quality zinfandels from the appellation. Where’s the singular character? Where’s the structure? Yes, this is a very young wine from a site that usually demands extended (for zinfandel) aging, but this is not the Lytton Springs of old in quality or character. (5/10)

Here’s the wind-up

Amador Foothill 2006 Zinfandel Clockspring (Shenandoah Valley) – 14.5%. Very straightforward zinnish fruit: generous wild berries, a little feral, some pepper, a brief spike of alcohol on the encephalograph. Simple. Could be more of…something. Anything. (Hopefully not alcohol.) But OK. (6/10)