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The Week in Zinfandel (2/1/16)

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!

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2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Evangelho Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Bedrock Wine Co. was founded by Morgan Twain-Peterson in 2007 and focuses on small production wines from many of California’ s most treasured and historic vineyards. The lineup of wines at Bedrock is expanding rapidly, but I think the best of the best are the ancient vineyard Zinfandels, Morgan is clearly passionate about.

Evangelho Vineyard is in Contra Costa County, south of the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta and east of Mount Diablo. The vineyard is planted with a number of different varieties and dates back to the early 1900’s.

Violet in color. 15.2% ABV. From 100 year old vines a blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Mourvedre and Mixed Whites. Absolutely fantastic nose of red fruits, citrus and cocoa. Fresh and luscious with acidity in spades. Strawberry, cranberry and peppered beef jerkey on the palate. The finish is tremendous. One of the best Bedrocks in recent memory. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 94 points.

The mailing at Bedrock is highly recommended. Exceptional wines, fair prices and great customer service. Put your name on the waiting list.

I blogged about Bedrock recently in The 2015 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2012 Turley Zinfandel Juvenile

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 February Zinfandel of the Month is the 2012 Turley Juvenile.

Turley Wine Cellars was founded in 1993 by Larry Turley and specializes in small lots of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from some of California’s most historic and treasured vineyards. Turley now makes 28 separate wines from 35 different vineyards, some with vines that date back to the late 1800’s. Tegan Passalacqua is the Director of Winemaking at Turley and has been instrumental in revitalizing the brand.

The vines that make up Juvenile range in age from about 6-25 years, and are sourced from 15 vineyards across California, including Hayne, Ueberroth, Pesenti, Salvador, and Vineyard 101.

Crimson in color. 15.5%% ABV. Super nose of black fruits, briar and anise. Plush and jammy with juicy acidity. Blackberry, raspberry compote, strawberry and vanilla on the palate. Lacks the depth of fruit that the Single Vineyard Designates (SVD’s) deliver. The being said the wine is well made and over delivers at the $20 price point. Drink this year while the SVD’s continue to develop.

My rating: 90 points.

With all due respect to Carlisle and Bedrock, Turley is arguably the best Zinfandel producer in California. Exceptional vineyards sources throughout the state of California and no detail spared in the winemaking process. The wines are simply better than ever.

Turley wines are available via the mailing list and periodically at retail. Turley has tasting rooms in both Amador and Paso Robles. If you are not on the mailing list, this is an easy way to secure bottles. Both are not to be missed if you are in the area.

Turley was a big winner in The 2015 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

The timing of this blog post is not an accident. The 2014 Juvenile was just released to mailing list members and is not to be missed.

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Mailing List Fatigue

The insanity of Spring mailing list offers took on new proportions in 2016 when literally over a dozen wineries, from which I traditionally purchase, decided to release their wines on January 12 or January 19th. I don’t keep exact release date records, but seem to recall in years past, that the offers were spread out more evenly over both January and February. I do understand that many wineries I purchase from are family operations and it literally takes over a month to process, pack and ship orders. An early January release allows time to get the wines out before shipping conditions decline in April.

This year was just too much though. Too many wineries in too short a time frame. On top of that prices and allocations are as high as ever. Some hard decisions had to be made. Do I really need both No Girls and Horsepower? The answer is yes but I am good with just a 3 pack of each. In this case and more often than not I just purchased less from my favorite producers. Wide but not deep became the name of the game. In some cases though if prices went up too much or shipping costs seem out of whack, I just decided not to order. Schrader comes to mind.

The real winners in all this are the wineries that continue to offer exceptional wines at fair prices. It is a short list but wineries like Carlisle, Rivers Marie, Bedrock and Turley come to mind. Scarcity is still a factor in the high demand I see for wines from the likes of Saxum and Sine Qua Non. That being said, if you are new to the mailing list game, I think it is safe to say that you should have little to no problem getting an allocation from most wineries as many consumers, myself included, are suffering from mailing list fatigue.

I would appreciate hearing from those of you who have also made some hard decisions this year. Feel free to comment below.

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2004 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte – Bottle Notes

The 2004 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte was the winning bottle in the January Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for one hour and served with steaks.

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte has a history in Bordeaux that dates back over 800 years. The estate started out life as part of the Du Boscq holdings in the Graves region. It was Du Boscq who planted vines in 1365 on a gravelly plateau called Lafitte. This attributed to a portion of the Chateau’s name. Jumping ahead a almost four hundred years, George Smith bought the Graves estate in 1720. Smith added his name to the property which we now know of as Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. Today, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte is owned and managed by Daniel and Florence Cathiard. The Cathiard’s purchased the the winery and estate in 1990 from well known Bordeaux negociant Louis Eschenauer.

Dark maroon in color. 13% ABV. Fantastic nose of red fruits, smoke, leather and graphite. Rich and elegant with tons of structure. More full bodied than expected with prominent tannins. Cherries, currants, tobacco and cassis on the palate. The finish is tremendous. This wine is drinking beautifully right now and should continue to do so for another 5-7 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The 2012 version of this wine is widely available for $75 and should be on every Bordeaux lovers shopping list. More broadly wines from the 2004 vintage of Bordeaux can be picked up at a discount to recent vintages like 2009 and 2010 and represent a great value in today’s market.

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The Week in Zinfandel (1/25/16)

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!

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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2011 Ravenswood Zinfandel Barricia Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Ravenswood was founded in 1976 by Joel Peterson. The winery is a pioneer in producing single vineyard Zinfandels from some of Napa and Sonoma’s most treasured vineyards, including Dickerson, Old Hill, Cooke and Belloni. I used to regularly visited Ravenswood in the summer, when they released their single vineyard wines. Back in the day they also served delicious barbeque on the deck out behind the winery. Great wine, great food and great memories.

Barricia Vineyard is situated in the heart of Sonoma Valley and the vines trace back to the the 1890’s.

Crimson in color. 14.8% ABV. 76% Zinfandel and 24% Petite Sirah. Perfumed nose of black fruits, anise and vanilla bean. Medium body with crisp acidity. Claret style Zinfandel. Black cherry, blackberry and white pepper on the palate. There are coarse tannins on a very long finish. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 90 points.

Ravenswood is widely available at retail the winery and via the mailing list. The ’12 version of the Barricia Vineyard Zinfandel will cost you $37.

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2007 Dehlinger Estate Pinot Noir – 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. The grapes for the East Face Syrah are from an east facing portion of the Estate Vineyard and our periodically bottled separately.

Crimson in color. 14.9% ABV. Soaring nose of red fruits, cloves, nutmeg and forest floor. Rich and supple on the palate with beautiful acidity. Pretty flavors of fresh strawberry, cranberry and black cherry. The finish is exquisite. Just entering its ideal drinking window. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 94 points.

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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Pick My Next Bottle – 2004 Bordeaux

The January installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 2004 Bordeaux. 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. I plan on opening the winning bottle on Saturday and will publish a Bottle Note shortly thereafter.

The 2004 Bordeaux vintage set a record for being the largest crop in Bordeaux history. After the moist spring, flowering took place early, which demanded that vintners make serious efforts at crop thinning to reduce the yields. June was average. That was followed by a cooler period in July. July was followed by a cold and rainy August.  Once again, another Bordeaux vintage was saved by a warm, dry and sun filled September. The grapes enjoyed a warm start to October followed by rain near harvest.

On the whole 2004 was not an ideal vintage. That being said it may appeal to consumers who prefer more traditional Bordeaux. The vintage is more similar to 2001 and 2006 than 2003 and 2005. Value can also be found if you are looking to pick up these wines at auction.

The Contenders:

2004 Leoville Barton – This is an impressively endowed vin de garde that should age effortlessly for 20-30 years. How Anthony Barton continues to fashion uncompromisingly primordial Bordeaux that are always among the biggest and densest of all the St.-Juliens is beyond me, but he does it year in and year out. Moreover, when it’s time to set the price, he appears to have the consumer foremost in his mind. The 2004 is a classic Leoville-Barton meant for long aging. Concentrated, with loads of smoke, creme de cassis, forest floor, and earthy notes emerge from this impressive, but oh, so backward wine. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2030+. 92 points from the Wine Advocate.

2004 Léoville-Poyferré– Along with Leoville Las Cases and a few others, this is among the stars of the appellation. Made in a more floral, supple, Margaux-like style, the deep ruby/purple-hued 2004 Leoville Poyferre exhibits sweet, broad flavors, and plenty of tannin lurking beneath the surface. However, the abundant cherry, black currant, licorice, and smoke notes obscure the tannic clout. This rich, powerful, broad beauty should be drinkable in 2-3 years, and last for two decades. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

2004 Smith Haut-Lafitte – A sensational effort and one of the stars of the vintage, Smith-Haut-Lafitte’s 2004 possesses an inky/blue/purple-tinged color as well as a sumptuous nose of lead pencil shavings, spring flowers, blueberries, and blackberries. Surprisingly full-bodied for the vintage with stunning concentration, purity, and overall harmony, this is another brilliant wine from the proprietors, the Cathiards, who have done such a spectacular job at this estate since the early 1990s. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2004 Bordeaux Should I Open?

  • 2004 Smith Haut-Lafitte (47%, 18 Votes)
  • 2004 Leoville Barton (34%, 13 Votes)
  • 2004 Léoville-Poyferré (19%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 38

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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 February installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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2013 Navarro Vineyards Chardonnay Premiere Reserve – Bottle Notes

Located in the Anderson Valley, Navarro Vineyards has been producing exceptional, fairly-priced wines since 1974. The winery is best known for its range of Pinot Noirs, including the showstopper Deep End Blend (available through futures). They also produce an age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon a delicious Zinfandel and their whites are noteworthy with a one-of-a-kind Riesling, Gewurztaminer and Muscat Blanc.

Lightly straw colored. 13.6% ABV. Pretty nose of peaches, lemon and honey. Medium body with zingy acidity. Rich and delicious. Lemon zest, green apple and vanilla on the palate. Delightful wine that is clearly the cream of the Chardonnay crop at Navarro. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 90 points.

The wine is $25 at the winery.

I previously wrote about Navarro in If I had to Pick Just One Wine Club, It’d be Navarro. You absolutely must visit the winery if you are ever in the Anderson Valley.

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