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Pick My Next Bottle – 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel

The October Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel from three of the very best Zinfandel producers in the state of California. As i mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this weekend and a Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.

2009 was a strong vintage for Zinfandel in both the Sonoma Valley and Paso Robles. All three vineyards for the wines featured below date back to the early 1900’s. As I like to say…history in a wine glass.

The Contenders:

    • 2009 Carlisle Montafi Ranch Zinfandel – Composed of 89% Zinfandel and 11% mixed blacks, the dense purple-hued 2009 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch (a vineyard planted in 1926) is phenomenal. Dark, jammy black raspberry notes intermixed with sweet black cherries, blackberries, licorice, charcoal and underbrush are present in this complex, full-bodied, massive yet impressively well-balanced offering. It will drink exceptionally well for 7-8 years. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
    • 2009 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel – The 2009 Lytton Springs is the biggest and most structured of these 2009 Zinfandel-based reds, largely owing to the earthier soils and the presence 23% Petite Sirah. Black fruit, plums, tar, licorice and smoke are some of the notes that flow from this generous, inviting red. The Lytton Springs is fairly structured, and can definitely benefit from another year or two (perhaps more) in bottle. The blend is 74% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah and 5% Carignane. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2029. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
    • 2009 Turley Pesenti Vineyard Zinfandel – The broad, structured, mineral-dominated, deep plum/purple-colored 2009 Zinfandel Pesenti Vineyard is made from head-trained old vines planted in pure limestone. It possesses copious notes of pepper, flowers, black cherries, black currants and a hint of chalk. With more structure and tannin than most of its siblings, it will benefit from 6-12 months of bottle age, and should keep for 5-6 years. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel should I open?

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another.

Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the November installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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The Week in Zinfandel (10/20/14)

Welcome to the latest 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’s Wine Picks reviewed the 2009 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine.

The Lowell Sun writes From Rage to Lust, Michael David’s Wines are Zin-ful.

Shiba Sommelier reviews the 2011 Ridge Zinfandel Three Valleys.

Rusty Gaffney of Orange Coast Magazine reviews the 2012 Seghesio Family Vineyards Zinfandel.

Natalie Maclean reviews the 2011 Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Vine.

Just Dubrovnik writes American Winemakers Visited Peninsula, the Birthplace of their Variety Zinfandel.

The Wine Spectator writes Wine Star: Larry Turley.

Zinfandel Chronicles writes New Releases From Grgich Hills Estate.

Lastly, Zinfandel Advocates and Producers announced The 2015 Zinfandel Experience.

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2008 Ridge Lytton Springs – Bottle Notes

Ridge Vineyards was founded in 1959 when three Stanford Research Institute engineers bought an abandoned winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The vineyards had been planted in the late 19th century by a San Francisco physician who produced his first vintage in the original winery, called Monte Bello, in 1892. The first Ridge vintage was in 1962. Since 1969 Ridge’s winemaker, and now also its CEO, has been Paul Draper. Ridge makes Cabernet, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Rhone style wines.

When I first became interested in Zinfandel the buzz was always around the Three R’s of Zinfandel: Ravenswood, Rosenblum and Ridge. 25 years later Ridge is still at the top of its game, turning out single vineyard Zinfandel from some of California’s most precious vineyards.

Lytton Springs Vineyard dates back to the early 1900’s and is located in the Dry Creek Valley. The ’08 Lytton Springs in a blend of 74% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah and 5% Carignane.

Bright purple in color. 14.4% ABV. Black fruits, pepper and currants on the nose. Great structure and perfectly balanced. Medium body, claret styled Zinfandel blend. The palate shows blackberries, cherries, plums and spice. Soft tannins and surprisingly approachable. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The 2012 Lytton Springs is widely available at retail for right around $32. Yours truly, will be looking to purchase bottles soon.

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New Releases From Grgich Hills Estate

Grgich Hills Estate, in Rutherford, in the Napa Valley, was founded in 1977 by Mike Grgich. Grgich earned fame in 1976 when the Chardonnay he produced as winemaker at Chateau Montelena won first prize among white wines at the now famous Paris Wine Tasting. The estate has 366 acres of vineyards in American Canyon, Carneros, Yountville, Rutherford and Calistoga and is still best known for its Chardonnays, which consistently earn accolades from wine critics. Grgich also makes Fume Blanc, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and dessert wines.

I recently had the opportunity to try some of the wineries new releases.

2011 Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel – Crimson in color. 14.5% ABV. 98% Zinfandel and 2% Petite Sirah. Dark fruits and anise on the nose. Black cherries, plums and strawberries on the palate. Light and restrained, but elegant. Well made wine but reflective of the cool 2011 vintage. Drink over the next 2-4 years. $35 at retail and the winery. My rating: 89 points.

2010 Grgich Hills Estate Merlot – Crimson in color. 14.8% ABV. Red fruits, spice cake and licorice on the nose. Rich and extracted. Strawberries, currants, cassis and graphite on the palate. Super silky tannins on a long plush finish. Really delicious wine. One of the better Napa Merlots I’ve had this year. Bravo! Drink over the next 5-7 years. $42 at retail and the winery. My rating: 92 points.

Grgich Hills is one of Napa’s iconic wineries. Consider stopping by when you next visit Napa Valley.

These reviews were based on samples provided by the winery.

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2008 Sojourn Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Sojourn Cellars was founded in 2001 by Craig Haserot and Erich Bradley. The winery specializes in Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and recently added a Chardonnay to the lineup. Their fruit is sourced from some of California’s finest vineyards.

Gap’s Crown Vineyard is situated in the foothills just above the Sangiacomo Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast.

Light red in color. Almost translucent. 14.7% ABV. Pretty nose of red fruits, cloves and forest floor. Light in body with just enough acidity. Strawberries, black cherries, cranberries and baking spices on the palate. Quite a bit of earthiness on the finish. Drink over the next 1-2 years. Good but not great.

My rating: 90 points.

Current vintages are available via the Sojourn mailing list and website. The 2012 was priced at $54 per bottle.

Definitely consider a visit to the Sojourn tasting parlor on your next visit to Sonoma. They do a one-of-a-kind sit down tasting where you will have the opportunity to sample many of their highly acclaimed wines. My wife and I have had the good fortune to spend some quality time with Craig and Ziggy (his dog with a talent for sniffing out TCA).

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The Week in Zinfandel (10/13/14)

Welcome to the latest 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!

1 Wine Dude reviews the 2012 m2 Wines Lodi Native Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel.

Wine Align reviews the 2012 Rock Wall Wine Co. Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel.

A Wine Story writes Meeting Christopher Silva of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards.

What to Pair writes What to Pair With Zinfandel.  

Wine Is My Life reviews the 2010 A. Rafanelli Zinfandel.

Zinfandel Chronicles writes Zinfandel of the Month – 2011 Angel Vine Zinfandel Columbia Valley.

Lastly, Zinfandel Advocates and Producers announced The 2015 Zinfandel Experience.

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2011 Efeste Syrah Jolie Bouche – 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.

Jolie Bouche is sourced from Boushey Vineyard.

Opaque purple in color. 14% ABV. Black fruits, green olives and iron on an exotic nose. Young, fresh and vibrant. Blackberries, minerals, olives and roasted meats on the palate. Warm and savory which seems to be the calling card of Boushey Vineyard Syrah. Surprisingly approachable but clearly the stuffing is here to cellar the wine for another 5-7 years.

My rating: 91 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.

Efeste also has an exceptionally well run and worthwhile wine club.

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2010 Rochioli Sauvignon Blanc – 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.

Rochioli recently published a detailed map of the Estate Vineyard that is required viewing for fans of the winery.

The wine is lightly straw colored. 14.5% ABV. Great nose of peach, lemongrass and grapefruit. Fresh and racy with tangy acidity. Lime, lemon and minerals on the palate. This wine never disappoints. Drink now.

My rating: 90 points.

A portion of the fruit from this wine (42%) is from what is thought to be the oldest planting Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in the state of California. History in a bottle!

Fairly priced at $28 from the winery.

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 the Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2011 Angel Vine Zinfandel Columbia Valley

Zinfandel of the Month is a regular feature on Zinfandel Chronicles. 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 October Zinfandel of the Month is the 2011 Angel Vine Zinfandel Columbia Valley.

Angel Vine owners Ed and Laureen Fus moved their family to Oregon in 1997 to pursue their dream of farming a vineyard. The Three Angels Vineyard (named after Laureen and their two daughters) is located in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills and produces Pinot Noir used by several local wineries. Ed eventually decided to make his own wine focusing on single vineyard Zinfandel (see my previous notes on three of them ), with grapes sourced from Washington. They also produce a Zinfandel blend, Petite Sirah and Primitivo.

The Columbia Valley Zinfandel is ruby red in color and checks in at 15.1% ABV. 98% Zinfandel and 2% Petite Sirah. Zinfandel from Alder Ridge, Avery and StoneTree vineyards. The Petite Sirah is also from StoneTree Vineyard. Black  fruits, licorice, grilled meats and pepper on the nose. Rich fruit and borderline jammy. Raspberries, maraschino cherries, white pepper and touch of bittersweet chocolate on the palate. Long, lean finish. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 90 points.

This is the entry level Zinfandel from Angel Vine and it is a great value at $18. The aforementioned single vineyard wines are worth searching for as well. Washington Zinfandel is a work in progress and this wine is cleary a step in the right direction.

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2006 Force Majeure CS IV – Bottle Notes

Previously known as Grand Rêve, Force Majeure was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson. Force Majeure pairs some of Washington’s highly acclaimed winemakers with fruit from one of Washington’s highly acclaimed vineyards, Ciel du Cheval. The winemakers contributing to the Collaboration Series is a Who’s Who of Washington winemakers including Ben Smith, Carolyn Lakewold, Chris Gorman, James Mantone, Mark McNeilly, Mike McMorran and Ross Mickel.

The CS IV is a blend of 75% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Cabernet Franc. The wine is made by Carolyn Lakewold of Donedei Wines.

Crimson in color. 13.7% ABV. Red fruits, leather and anise on the nose. Liquid velvet. Cherries, currants, cassis and molten chocolate cake on the palate. Caressing, silky tannins on a classic finish. Great wine that could go another 3-5 years in the cellar.

My rating: 94 points.

On a short list of a top Washington Merlots with Leonetti, Long Shadows and Northstar.

Force Majeure warrants your attention and (as I write this) the winery is still accepting names for their mailing list.

In other news Force Majeure recently announced the hiring of Todd Alexander, formerly of Bryant Family Vineyards, as the winemaker for the Force Majeure Estate wines. Ryan Johnson has left the winery and started a vineyard consulting company. Finally, a new facility for the winery will be up and running in time for the November Release Party. More to come on all of the above.

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