january 28, 2017

Portland Wine Tasting Group - ZINFANDELICIOUSNESS!

For Zinfandel Lovers


1. 2011 Turley "Fredericks Vineyard" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel
(15.5 alcohol; from vines planted on extremely steep terraces in 1937, at an altitude of 1,100 feet): Good dark red. Initially quite closed on the nose, but showed cranberry, licorice and an exotic hint of banana with aeration. At once sweet and savory, with impressive stuffing to its concentrated cranberry and pepper flavors. Despite showing serious, building tannins, the finish remains sweet and smooth. 92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

2. 2011 Brown Estate Zinfandel Napa Valley
Ripe and jammy, with a tight core of tannins. Aromas of berry cobbler and mineral lead to slightly sweet flavors of baked cherry and spicy caramel. Wine Spectator

(Believed to be the first and only Black-owned estate winery in California's Napa Valley (USA), is best known as one of that region's most well-regarded zinfandel producers. In addition to zinfandel, Brown Estate produces cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and petite sirah. Founded in 1995 by siblings Deneen, David & Coral Brown, Brown Estate produced its first Napa Valley zinfandel in 1996 after the family had been farming grapes - and selling them to established winemakers (including Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills Estate) - for more than ten years.)

3. 2011 Gamba Zinfandel "Old Vine - Estate" Russian River Valley
One-half ton per acre yields were nothing to crow about back when this vineyard was planted, in around 1900. And this old vineyard, now owned by Gus Gamba, who worked with Dick Arrowood for years, only puts out that much fruit after care and attention. But it's all worth it. Minimalist winemaking enables the old vine character to show through in this 2011 Zinfandel from Gamba. A cool maceration to extract fruit character happened before fermentation on indigenous yeast. The wine was aged in new American oak barrels for 12-16 months before bottling. From the winery: "Brilliant ruby- garnet in color, this classic Old Vine Russian River Zinfandel features distinct aromas of red berries, cranberries, cherries, Asian spice, and cedar. Medium to full-bodied, our Estate Zinfandel is balanced with a proportionate flavor profile of ripe raspberry, cherry, cocoa and vanilla cream with subtle hints of cedar and oak that push through the spicy, lingering finish. This wine can be enjoyed now, and will develop with bottle age over the next several years." K&L Wines

(Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate says: "These are pretty serious Zinfandels and certainly Gamba's name is going to have to be included with some of the stars of Sonoma, such as Hartford Court, Carlisle, Bedrock and even the superstar Turley over in Napa.")

4. 2010 Orin Swift Zinfandel "Saldo" California
This juicy, jammy Zin delivers appealing black raspberry, spice and cinnamon notes. Wine Spectator

The 2010 Saldo has a dark ruby color and intense aromas of dark cherry, cocoa powder and baking spice. The entry is rich and full, and leads into a broad mid palate with concentration and density, backed by lively acidity. The texture is soft and the tannins are polished. The finish is long with persistent notes of chocolate, berry and vanilla bean." K&L Wines

5. 2001 Tulocay Zinfandel Amador County California
Tulocay Winery is the oldest active winery in the Coombsville area of Napa (located just North East of the actual town of Napa). All their wines are from small single vineyards with their focus on Cabernets, Zinfandels, Syrahs and Merlots. An experience at this winery is a step back into time to the mid 1970’s when Napa was still relatively unknown on the International scope and all the flash and outside money had not yet entered the Napa Wine industry. This is one of the best values in all of Napa for the quality of wine when compared to the pricing. http://www.napawineproject.com/tulocay-winery/

6. 2008 Unti Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley - 93% Zinfandel - 18% Petite Sirah
This Zinfandel comes primarily from our Primitivo-clone vineyard planted next to the winery. We also use a small amount of Zinfandel from our 30 year-old head-pruned benchland block. We favor the Primitivo-clone because it tends to produce berries that are smaller with thicker skins versus typical Zinfandel selections. This leads to a richer wine with more tannin, which is usually found in old vine Zin. As always, we blend with Petite Sirah for color and body. We aged our Zin in French oak barrels, 25% new. Our 2008 Zinfandel really shows how strong vineyards can overcome adverse conditions. While this 2008 Zinfandel has a touch more dark fruit and is slightly lower in acid than our 2007, it is remarkably similar. This lush and rich wine has the structure to age, but I would drink it within 2 years to savor the fruit. Winery

7. 2013 Easton Zinfandel Amador County California
“With opulent ripe fruit flavors and plenty of tannin and acidity to back them, this is a complete, balanced and appetizing wine. It smells like blackberry with smoky, meaty accents, tastes rich and full of berries, and feels firm and tangy on the palate. It should improve through 2017.” Rated 91, The Wine Enthusiast, “Editor’s Choice”

8. 2006 Neyers Zinfandel High Valley Vineyards Napa Valley
The 2006 Zinfandel from High Valley (1,800-foot elevation) is my pick of this group, as it was in the previous vintage. Deep, beautiful briery fruit intermixed with black cherry, pepper, and earth jumps from the glass of this wine, which has beautiful density, good acidity, and a nice, powerful finish that combines purity and elegance. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. Rated 91 The Wine Advocate

9. 2014 Limerick Lane Zinfandel Russian River Valley ($37)
The 2014 Zinfandel Estate is primarily Zinfandel, but there are other grapes in this mixed black field blend, including Peloursin, Négrette, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Carignan. This is a sensational Zinfandel, with an explosive nose of pepper, raw meat, blackberry, black raspberry and cherry. Deep, chewy and dense, it finishes at 14.8% natural alcohol... The owners of the well-known Marietta Cellars, the Bilbro family, have taken this once-moribund producer, Limerick Lane, and resurrected it to impressive heights of quality. This estate always had some fabulous terroirs spread among their 30 acres of relatively old-vine mixed black blends, dominated by Zinfandel and, to a certain extent, Syrah. They started with a difficult challenge, the 2011 harvest, but brothers Jake and Scott Bilbro hit pay dirt and have continued to build on that success with fabulous wines in 2012, 2013, and again with the following 2014s. Rated 94 The Wine Advocate

Dessert wine: T-Vine Zinfandel Late Harvest Napa Valley
Almost like a Port, this is a delicious and sweet dessert wine. K&L Wines