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Posts from the ‘Zinfandel’ Category

Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch

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 January Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch.

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. Paul Draper recently retired and John Olney is making the wines at Lytton Springs. 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.

Pagani Ranch is just off Highway 12 in the Glen Ellen area of Sonoma County. Angela and Felice Pagani came to Sonoma County from Italy, purchased the property and planted the vineyard in the early 1900’s. In addition to Ridge the fruit goes to Bedrock, Seghesio, Biale and Carlisle.

Violet in color. 15% ABV. 83% Zinfandel, 10% Alicante Bouschet and 7% Petite Sirah. Great big nose of ripe red fruits, rose petals and maraschino cherries. Immensely concentrated and lush. Cherry jam, raspberry liqueur, white pepper and baking spices on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. Delicious but so very young. Give this Zinfadel some time in the cellar and then drink over the next 6-8 years.

My rating:  93 points.

This wine was recently released and can be found for $34-$40.

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2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard – 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. Many of these vineyards are heritage sites planted by Italian immigrants and date back to the late 1800s . They have also added their first whites, two blends from historic, old-vine vineyards plus Sonoma County’s first ever Grüner Veltliner.

Bedrock Vineyard, formerly known as Madrone Ranch, was first planted in 1854. Senator George Hearst purchased the property in 1888 and planted most of the vines that exist to this day. Located in the Sonoma Valley the vineyard is a fruit source for Ravenswood, Carlisle and Bedrock.

Maroon in color. 15.8% ABV. Gorgeous nose of bright red fruits, peach cobbler and flowers. Medium body with juicy acidity. Fresh, restrained and remarkably well balanced. Raspberry, salmonberry, pepper and a hint of cream on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Lighter in style than I am accustomed to from Carlisle but delicious nonetheless. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 93 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 and The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2012 A. Rafanelli Zinfandel – Bottle Notes

Alberto Rafanelli, an Italian immigrant, first founded A. Rafanelli Winery in the early 1900’s. It wasn’t until the early 70’s that Alberto’s son, Americo, came out with the present day label and started selling the wine commercially. David and Patty Rafanelli now run the winery and a 4th generation Rafanelli, their daughter Shelly, is the winemaker. The winery is perhaps best known for their Zinfandel but also produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with all the fruit sourced from their vineyard in Dry Creek Valley.

Crimson in color. 14.7% ABV. Scrumptious nose of red and black fruits, pepper, plums and earth. Medium to full bodied with juicy acidity. Nicely balanced. Black raspberries, blackberries and white pepper on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. Super Zinfandel from one of the top producers in the Dry Creek Valley. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 92 points.

I’ve previously posted on Rafanelli in What’s Your Price for Zin?

Rafanelli is very traditional in how they run the winery. If you want to join the mailing list you need to send them a letter. They do not correspond via email, but will likely answer the phone if you give them a call. The extra effort required to acquire the wine is worth it. The tasting room is open by appointment and is always worth a visit to try the new releases. The 2016 Zinfandel will be released this coming Spring and costs around $45.

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2014 Turley Zinfandel Juvenile – Bottle Notes

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 right around 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 pull from vineyards across California, including Hayne, Ueberroth, Pesenti, Salvador, Vineyard 101, Fredericks and Kirschenmann

Purple in color. 15.5% ABV. Sensational nose of red and blue fruits, brown sugar and raspberry liqueur. Lush, sweet and exceptionally well balanced. Full bodied with medium acidity. Raspberry compote, boysenberry and crushed black pepper on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. Zinfandel just does not get much better at the $20 price point. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 92 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 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Bucklin Ancient Field Blend Old Hill Ranch

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 December Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Bucklin Ancient Field Blend Old Hill Ranch.

Bucklin Winery was founded in 2000 by the four Bucklin siblings: Arden, Kate, Ted and Will.  Will Bucklin has been a vintner for over 25 years, working in France, Australia, Sonoma, Mendocino and Oregon. Bucklin produces several Zinfandels, a Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and a White Field Blend.

Old Hill Ranch is an historic jewel.  It was founded by William McPherson Hill in 1851. The vineyard came into the Bucklin family when it was purchased in 1981. Bucklin and Ravenswood are the sole producers of wine from the vineyard.

The “Ancient Field Blend” is from a 12 acre block of vines that were planted in 1885. The vineyard is a mosaic of over two dozen grape varieties — primarily Zinfandel, but also Grenache, Alicante Bouchet, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignane, and Tempranillo, to name a few. The grapes are co-fermented together. 12 Acres, 30 grape varieties, 1 wine.

Purple in color. 15.3% ABV. Sublime nose of black fruits, graphite, earth and black pepper. Full bodied with acidity in spades. Exceedingly lush and rich. Black cherry, black raspberry, minerals and spiced plums on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with a touch of sweetness. Incredible Zinfandel from a heritage vineyard. Drink over the next 4-6 years. A great value at $34 from the winery.

My rating: 95 points.

Bucklin gets very little press but I would highly suggest visiting their website and ordering a few bottles.

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2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Limerick Lane 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.

Limerick Lane Vineyard is just south of Healdsburg at the end of Limerick Lane. The vineyard was planted around 1910 by Mario Del Fava and has only been farmed by 3 families in the last 100 years. The fruit goes to Limerick Lane, Carlisle and Bedrock.

Bright crimson in color. 14% ABV. Savory nose of red and black fruits, iron and flowers. Medium body with loads of acidity. Elegant, Claret style Zinfandel. Blackberry, raspberry liqueur, minerals and a hint of citrus on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Delicious Zinfandel that will benefit from more time in the cellar. Give this another 2-4 years.

My rating: 92 points.

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

I blogged about Bedrock in The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

I blogged about Limerick Lane Vineyard in Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.

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2012 Joseph Swan Zinfandel Mancini Ranch Vineyard – Bottle Notes

In 1967 Joseph Swan purchased a small farm on Laguna Road near the town of Forestville in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. The property consisted of 13 acres of old Zinfandel vines, fruit trees and pasture along with several structures including an old barn and a nearly 100 year old house. In 1968 Joe made wine from the few remaining Zinfandel vines. Joe passed away in 1989 The winery is currently owned and operated by Rod and Lynn Berglund. The winery makes a wide array of wine but is perhaps best known for it’s Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

The Mancini Ranch was planted in 1922. Mancini is on the eastern side of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The 16 acre vineyard is head-trained, dry- farmed, and consists of mostly Zinfandel vines, although it is interplanted with an unusual mix of at least 20 different varieties. There are also two distinct sections of the vineyard, the North-West corner consists of mostly Carignan, while the South-East corner contains mostly white varieties (Muscadelle, Palomino, French Colombard, and others).

Light crimson in color. 12.9% ABV. Pretty nose of red and black fruits, cocoa powder and flowers. Medium body with medium acidity. Elegant, Claret style Zinfandel. Black cherry, strawberry and plums on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Easy to drink but slightly underwhelming compared to previous vintages. Best over the next few years.

My rating: 88 points.

The wines of Joseph Swan Vineyards are well made and fairly priced. The winery is worth a visit when you are next in the area.

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2009 Turley Zinfandel Pesenti Vineyard – Bottle Notes

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 right around 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.

Pesenti Vineyard, in Paso Robles, is estate-owned and certified organic. The vineyard was planted by the Turley team using cuttings from the Hayne vineyard.

Crimson in color. 16% ABV. Stunning nose of brambly red fruits, wet stones and white pepper. Medium to full body with juicy acidity. Rich, lush and impeccably balanced. Cherry liqueur, raspberry compote, licorice and pepper on the palate. The finish is long and sweet. The best Zin I have had this year and also the best Zin I have had from Turley. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 96 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 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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New Release Zins from Wonderment Wines

Wonderment Wines was founded in 2011 by Stephanie Cook. The wines are focused on specific terroir where each wine represents the vineyards distinctive style and expression. Stephanie honed her winemaking skills at Robert Biale Vineyards, Spottswoode Estate and Spy Valley in New Zealand before going out on her own.

Stephanie recently sent me her new Zins to review.

2015 Wonderment Wines Zinfandel Burton Ranch Vineyard – Ruby red in color. 14.9% ABV. Reticent nose of red fruits, citrus and flowers. Medium body with medium acidity. Light and elegant in style. Cherries, salmonberries and blood orange on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Pretty Zinfandel. Drink over the next 2-3 years. $35 at the winery and retail. My rating: 90 points.

2015 Wonderment Wines Zinfandel Bacigalupi Vineyard – Dark crimson in color. 15.1% ABV. Sublime nose of brambly red fruits, plums and white pepper. Full bodied with mouth watering acidity. Big, plush and spicy. Raspberry liqueur, cherry compote, brown sugar and pepper on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. Super Zinfandel from a tremendous vineyard. Best over the next 3-5 years. $44 at the winery and retail. My rating: 94 points.

2015 Wonderment Wines Zinfandel Pritchett Peaks Vineyard – Crimson in color. 14.9% ABV. Scrumptious nose of black fruits, pepper and a hint of peach. Medium to full bodied with medium acidity. Lush yet elegant. Black cherry, black raspberry and pepper on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Drink over the next 2-4 years. $55 at the winery and retail. My rating: 92 points.

What a well made set of wines although the Bacigalupi Vineyard Zinfandel was definitely the showstopper! Most of us are on too many mailing lists to begin with so I usually hesitate before suggesting you sign yourself up. I’ll make an exception here. I look forward to following the winery in the years to come.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi

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 November Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi.

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 visit Ravenswood in the summer, when they released their single vineyard wines. Back in the day they also served delicious barbecue on the deck out behind the winery. Great wine, great food and great memories.

The 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi is 79% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah and 1% Alicante Bouschet.

Crimson in color. 14.5% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, flowers, plums and pepper. Medium to full body with medium acidity. Rich, smooth and easy to drink. Cherry liqueur, blackberries and cocoa powder on the palate. The wine finishes strong. Delicious, affordable Zinfandel that will be at it’s best over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 90 points.

Ravenswood is widely available at retail the winery and via the mailing list. The ’15 version of the Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi will only set you back about $15. Even better, the grocery store down the street likely has this wine.

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