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The Week in Zinfandel (7/14/14)

Welcome to the fourth installment of The Week in Zinfandel. If I missed your post or story please send me a link and I will be sure to include it next week. Cheers!

Cliff Brown reviews the 2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch.

Garrett Snyder of Los Angeles Magazine writes A Brief History of White Zinfandel.

T.J. Foderaro of Inside Jersey writes about the 2011 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel.

Randy Fuller of Now and Zin Wine writes about Lodi Native Zinfandel: Fields Family Century Block Vineyard.

Wine Lines Online writes about Bella Vineyards.

And last but not least, yours truly reviewed the 2008 Black Sears Zinfandel.

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Making Sense of the Carlisle Mailer

With the arrival late last week of the Carlisle mailer so began the semi annual struggle of deciding what wines to buy from one of my very favorite producers. It seems that the number of wines available grows with each release making the decision all the more problematic. This particular mailer included a dozen different wines. Pretty convenient if you want to buy a mixed case containing a single bottle of each. Not so convenient if you don’t plan on buying a case or would like to have multiple bottles of some of your favorite bottlings.

Below is how I would approach the mailer at different bottle increments.

 

  • 3 bottles – For me, Carlisle if first and foremost a Zinfandel producer. If I was going to limit myself to 3 bottles I would go with the vineyards that literally represent California wine history in a glass: Pagani, Hayne and Papera. All 3 of these vineyards scored high when I ranked my Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.
  • 6 bottles – If I were able to add 3 more bottles to the 3 above I would include the James Berry Vineyard Syrah, Limerick Lane Zinfandel and Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandel. The James Berry Vineyard is one of the premier Syrah sites in the state. The wine itself is comparable to Syrahs from Saxum and Lillian at a fraction of the price. Limerick Lane is a new vineyard source for Carlisle with this vintage. I first started drinking the Limerick Lane Zins back in the 1990′s and can’t wait to see what Mike Officer can do with this fruit. For my 6th bottle I am giving a very slight edge to the Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandel over the Bedrock Vineyard Zinfandel. Nothing scientific here but my heart tells me that there is just a little extra care and attention that goes into wine made from the grapes you own.
  • 9 bottles – The last 3 bottles I would add to my order would be the Bedrock Vineyard Zinfandel, Saitone Ranch Zinfandel and the Two Acres blend. Bedrock Vineyard is a great site farmed by one of my favorite winemakers. Saitone Ranch was the source for one of the best Zins from the 2011 Carlisle lineup and is situated nearby other stellar vineyards including the aforementioned Papera and Carlisle. Two acres is a Mourvedre dominant blend that Carlisle has produced since the very beginning. This wine might be the most age worthy in the entire Carlisle lineup.

It just goes to show how strong this offering is when the wines that did not make the cut are all exceptional: the Bedrock Vineyard Mourvedre, Rosella’s Vineyard Syrah and The Derivative white blend. As the saying goes picking wines on the mailer is like picking your favorite child. This is one of those rare mailers where it is hard to go wrong. Exceptional wines at exceptional prices. My advice…buy all you can afford.

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2006 Dehlinger Chardonnay See’s Selection – Bottle Notes

Dehlinger Winery is located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County and was founded in 1975 by Tom and Carole Dehlinger. Eva Dehlinger took over winemaking duties in 2007. Known for their Pinot Noir, Dehlinger also makes Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.

The grapes for Dehlinger Wines are largely grown on the Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The initial vines were planted in 1975 and followed by subsequent plantings through 1989.

Golden in color. 14.5% ABV. Great nose of pears, honey and lemon meringue pie. Rich and creamy with terrific acidity. Apples, brioche, hazelnuts, lime curd and flint on the palate. The finish absolutely exceptional. Brilliant wine. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 93 points.

Don’t overlook the Chardonnay program at Dehlinger.

Dehlinger Winery has a great reputation among wine connoisseurs. Wine writers have consistently given strong reviews while praising the winery for its uniqueness, quality, consistency and value. About 75% of their wine is sold via the mailing list. Amazing wines that are well worth the search.

I wrote about Dehlinger previously in the Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2012 Efeste Riesling Evergreen Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Efeste, pronounced like the letters “F-S-T” strung together, was named after the last names of founders Helen & Dan Ferrelli, Patrick Smith, and Kevin & Angela Taylor. Efeste is located in the Warehouse District of Woodinville, Washington. Peter Devison took over full-time winemaking duties when Brennon Leighton left to work with Charles Smith in 2012.

Evergreen Vineyard, in the new Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA, is one of the top sites for white wine in Washington state. Jerry and Butch Milbrandt began planting the site in 1998 not far from the famous Gorge Amphitheater. The vineyard began with 452 acres. Next year the Evergreen Ranch project will cover about 1,200 acres.

Light straw colored. Almost clear. 12.8% ABV. Flowers, mineral, spice and a hint of matchstick on the nose. Mouthwatering acidity with a touch of sweetness. Melon, pears, flowers and apples on the palate. The finish is crisp. $20 at the winery. A perfect Summer wine.

My rating: 88 points.

Efeste has one of the best white wine programs in the state of Washington and the red wines are also exceptional. The wines are readily available at retail, via the wine club and at the winery. The 2011 Emmy will set you back $45.

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2006 Rochioli Chardonnay Sweetwater Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Rochioli is one of the true pioneers in Russian River Valley, with a winemaking history dating back to the the late 1950′s. Although best known for their world class Pinot Noir, Rochioli also produces remarkable Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

There is 1 acre of Wente Selection Chardonnay planted in the Sweetwater parcel of Rochioli Vineyard. Rochioli recently published a detailed map of the Estate Vineyard that is required viewing for fans of the winery.

Bright straw colored and 14.2% ABV. Great nose of lemon oil, pineapple and spice. Rich and nicely textured with just the right amount of acidity. Apple, pears, marzipan, minerals and more lemon on the palate. The finish is perfect. Drink over the next year or two.

My rating: 93 points.

The Rochioli Chardonnay program is second to none and should be in the conversation with the likes of Aubert and Kistler.

At present time (and for the foreseeable future) buying from Rochioli via the mailing list is not an option. The Estate wines do show up at retail periodically, and the winery’s Russian River Valley tasting room is still open for public tasting. They may only be pouring a couple of wines, but it’s a great opportunity to buy a bottle for a picnic on their lovely patio and a few more to bring home for the cellar.

I’ve blogged about Rochioli previously in Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists.

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The Week in Zinfandel (7/7/14)

Welcome to the third installment of The Week in Zinfandel. If I missed your post or story please send me a link and I will be sure to include it next week. Cheers!

Virginia Pour House writes about Storybook Mountain Vineyards.

Ted Scheffler of the Salt Lake City Weekly writes about Ravenswood Wines.

Eric Asimov of the NY Times, in his column Wine School, writes Your Next Lesson: Zinfandel.

Palate Press writes Out in the Fields Drinking Old Vines Zinfandel.

Dan Goderis reviews the 2010 Ousterhout Dry Creek Bradford Mountain Zinfandel.

Dan Berger of the Napa Valley Registers wonders about Zinfandel Getting Lighter?

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2008 Black Sears

Zinfandel of the Month is a new feature on Zinfandel Chronicles. For background please see the first installment published last October. Keep in mind that although the Zinfandel of the Month might be an older bottle, the current vintage will be one you can find at retail or via the mailing list.

The July Zinfandel of the Month is the 2008 Black Sears.

In 1979, Joyce Black and Jerre Sears purchased a one-of-a-kind property at the top of Howell Mountain. In 1997, Joyce and Jerre began producing very small quantities of estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel for their new Black Sears label, a few hundred cases per vintage. For twelve years, winemaker Ted Lemon called the Black Sears winery home, producing both the Black Sears wines and his own Littorai Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But in 2007 Ted fulfilled a lifelong dream and built his own winery in Sebastopol.

Soon thereafter, Joyce and Jerre learned that their friends and neighbors down Summit Lake Drive at Outpost needed some additional capacity. Winemaker Thomas Brown was taking on more projects, and Outpost’s facility was running out of room for them all. Moreover, Thomas needed open-top tanks so he could make Pinot and Chardonnay for his own Rivers Marie label. Thomas and cellar-master Andrew Jones now inhabit the Black Sears winery, where they craft wines for their own label, Rivers Marie, Schrader and others.

The 37 year old vines for the 2008 Zinfandel are on an east-facing plot at the absolute top of Howell Mountain. Deep red in color. 15.5% ABV. Black fruits, figs and Howell Mountain pepper on the nose. Rich, jammy and spicy with a hint of acidity. Great flavors of white pepper, blackberries, cherry cordial and plums. There is no shortage of tannins on an exceptional finish. Drink over the next 1-3 years. Super Zinfandel.

My rating: 93 points

The Black Sears Zinfandel is priced around $50 and is only available via the mailing list. The 2012 version will be released in the Spring of 2015.

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2007 Araujo Sauvignon Blanc – Bottle Notes

Araujo Estate is a 38-acre vineyard in northeast Napa Valley, east of Calistoga. It was established in 1990 when Bart and Daphne Araujo bought the historic vineyard from Milt and Barbara Eisele, who planted the vines in the 1960s. For nearly 40 years the Eisele Vineyard has been known as one of the valley’s great vineyards, consistently producing outstanding wines. The Araujos have completed many renovation projects since they acquired the estate, and have planted many varietals including Petit Verdot, Syrah, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Nevertheless the estate’s signature wine is its highly regarded Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pale gold in color. 14% ABV. Grapefruit, kiwi and fresh cut grass on the nose. Creamy in texture and a touch of acidity. Lemon, lime and more grapefruit on the palate. This bottle was lost in the cellar and aged longer than originally intended. That being said there is a lot to like here on a hot summer night. Clearly ready to drink.

My rating: 90 points.

Araujo is one of the most prestigious wineries in all of Napa Valley. It does not get much more iconic than Eisele Vineyard. It can be included on a short list with the likes of Martha’s Vineyard and To Kalon Vineyard.

The Araujo wines can be obtained via the mailing list, at retail and frequently at auction.

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2009 Carlisle Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands – Bottle Notes

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards was founded in 1998 by Mike and Kendall Officer. Their passion is clear: Small lots of Zinfandel and Syrah from exceptional, historic vineyards.

Bright purple in color. 15.0% ABV. 100% Syrah from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Powerful nose of black fruits, smoke and flowers. Super fresh with fabulous acidity. Iron, game, blood, violets and white pepper on the palate. Great finish. More Northern Rhone like than I would typically expect from Carlisle. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Current vintages of the various Carlisle wines are available via the mailing list, which is exceptionally long. Several retail outlets in California stock Carlisle, but you need to check with them at the time the winery releases their wines in the Spring and Fall.

I’ve wrote about Carlisle previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5.

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The Week in Zinfandel (6/30/14)

Welcome to the second rendition of The Week in Zinfandel. If I missed your post or article please drop me a note and I will be sure to include it next week. Salud!

Musings on the Vine writes about the 2011 Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel Contra Costa County.

Liz Young of the Columbus Dispatch writes about Zanon Cellars.

George Edwards of the Monterey Herald writes about The OZV from Oak Ridge Winery.

Wine Life Today has An Introduction to the Zinfandel of California.

Ross Gardiner of The Savory writes about Zinfandel:  The Most American Drink of All.

And last but not least yours truly wrote about the 2004 Williams Selyem Zinfandel Forchini Vineyard.

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