California Zins

This Thursday night we tasted California Zinfandels at Fine Wines of Stockton. George told us the wines were from various California regions, and that at least one Zinfandel was from Sonoma County. Our challenge this week was not to identify our favorite but to identify the one wine from Sonoma County.

George told us a little about the Zinfandel grape and explained that Zinfandel likes a hot climate. Zinfandel produces big tight clusters of grapes which are prone to mildew if there is too much moisture. Cool days don’t dry out the clusters sufficiently to prevent mildew.

2007 Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley Zinfandel – The color was a medium ruby. The nose had scents of cooked sugar and dark fruit. The flavors tasted of dark ripe fruit and spice. The mouth feel was very light for the amount of flavor. There was a moderate amount of smooth tannins and a lot of acid. The finish was on the short side. This wine was not so impressive on the initial tasting, but when I went back to it at the end of the tasting it had opened up quite a bit. The nose was much more obvious and the flavors had become more complex and richer with the spiciness really coming out. The acid didn’t seem as obvious as on the initial tasting.

2009 Dashe Cellars Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel – The color was ruby with a bit of violet around the edges. The nose was minimal, just a bit of light colored fruit. The flavors tasted of raspberry and blackberry. The mouth feel was very light with moderate, drying tannins and a good amount of acid. The finish was short. This turned out to be a Sonoma County wine. Several in the group identified it as such.

2009 Seghesio Family Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel – George pulled a fast one again by putting in two Sonoma County Zins. This wines’ color was a medium ruby. The nose was floral (roses) with raspberries. The flavors were complex with sweet dark berries and plum flavors. Once again, this wine had a light mouth feel. There were a moderate amount of tannins and good acid. There was a bit of sweetness some attributed to wood on the finish. This wine was very well balanced, and overall was my favorite (I know George said not to pick our favorites, but there you have it!) I also thought this was the Sonoma County wine 🙂

We also tasted this wine at our Final Thursday Night Tasting of 2010 and it seems to have changed somewhat.

2008 Karly Zinfandel Buck’s Ten Point – This wine from Amador County was a dark ruby color. The nose had minimal fruit with vanilla. The flavors tasted of ripe plums. This wine did not taste over ripe or overly fruity, however. There were more tannins in this wine than the others, and a good amount of acid with a short finish. Overall, I thought this was a fairly light Zinfandel.

2008 St. Amant Old Vine Zinfandel – this wine had a very distinctive burnt match nose which was stinky initially. It did blow off after a few minutes. The flavors tasted of very ripe, very dark fruit, licorice and spices. The tannins were moderate in amount with good acid. The finish on this wine was very long with very ripe fruit. Everyone thought this had to be a Lodi Zinfandel because it tasted so ripe. Sure enough, we were right! This wine tasted very different from the others in the tasting.

I was very surprised by how light most of these Zinfandels tasted. I liked them all, though the Rutherford Ranch and the Seghesio were my favorites. I liked the Seghesio best in the initial tasting, but when I went back and re-tasted the wines at the end of the tasting I liked the Rutherford Ranch best. I felt the Seghesio was the best balanced wine of the group initially.

Even though the St. Amant was a very different style, it had very interesting, concentrated flavors. It was much more than the proverbial “fruit bomb”. It was very ripe, but also had very complex with concentrated flavors, good acid and tannins.

Those of you paying attention will notice there were actually two Sonoma County wines in the group…first time George has tried to fool us…Ha Ha! Oh well, it just made it easier for us to guess which one was the Sonoma County wine!

Barbecue season will be here soon. Go out and buy some Zins to have with your barbecue. Cheers!

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