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Posts from the ‘Zinfandel’ Category

2011 Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Hill Ranch 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 visit 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.

Old Hill Ranch is possibly the oldest continuously farmed vineyard in California. It was established in 1852 by William McPherson Hill who was the first viticulturist to import non-Mission grapes into Sonoma.

Purple in color. 14.9% ABV. Stunning nose of red and black fruits, plums and white pepper. Full bodied with moderate acidity. Rich and plush with great texture on the palate. Flavors of raspberry compote, boysenberry, earth and pepper. Chalky, dusty tannins on an exceptionally long finish. Easily the most impressive Zinfandel I have had from Ravenswood in the last several years. Old Hill Ranch is the diamond in the Ravenswood SVD lineup. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 94 points.

Ravenswood is widely available at retail the winery and via the mailing list. The ’14 version of the Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel will cost you right around $50.

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2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Old Vines – 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 recently added their first whites, two blends from historic, old-vine vineyards plus Sonoma County’s first ever Grüner Veltliner.

Violet in color. A touch cloudy. 15.9% ABV. A fifty fifty blend of Carlisle Vineyard and Montafi Vineyard after both were ravaged by the heat spike in 2010. Scrumptious nose of red and black fruits, flowers and white pepper. Full bodied with exquisite acidity. The balance is noteworthy. Plush and juicy. Raspberry compote, black cherry and more pepper on the palate. Well made Zinfandel from a grueling vintage. Drink over the next few 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 and The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Reichwage Zinfandel Mancini Ranch Vineyard

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 September Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Reichwage Winery Zinfandel Mancini Ranch Vineyard.

Reichwage Winery was founded in 2014 by Max Reichwage to fulfill a dream of producing small quantities of classically made Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Max is the owner and winemaker. Before starting the winery in 2014, Max studied chemistry at the University of Michigan, and viticulture and enology at University California Davis.  Max owns Twin Hills Vineyard in Sonoma County and this will be the site of the winery in the not to distant future. In 2014 Max also purchased Mancini Ranch Vineyard.

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 of mostly white varieties (Muscadelle, Palomino, French Colombard, and others).

Violet in color. 14.5% ABV. Stunning nose of red and black fruits, licorice and peach. Full bodied with exquisite acidity. Rich and luscious. Raspberry liqueur, blackberry, boysenberry and white pepper on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long and spicy. Just an excellent Zinfandel from a heritage vineyard that is finally getting the attention it deserves. Drink over the next 4-6 years. $35 at the winery.

My rating: 94 points.

Review based on samples provided by the winery.

Production at Reichwage is miniscule so act quickly if you want to secure the recently released Carignane and Zinfandel.

Max Reichwage was mentioned recently in an amazing article by Esther Mobley. Please read Vintners Rally to Preserve Russian River Valley’s Historic Zinfandel Vineyards.

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Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot #66 – Bottle Notes

The history of Marietta Cellars goes back almost 40 years. It is a true American success story that merits the attention of every red wine drinker who wants to drink exceptional wines at fair prices. Marietta Cellars was founded by Chris Bilbro in 1978. In recent years Chris’s sons, Jake and Scot, have taken over most of the responsibilities. Jake and Scot are known as well for their success in reviving Limerick Lane Wines.

Of note is the new label for the “OVR”.

Violet in color. 13.5% ABV. Savory nose of red and black fruits, white pepper and earth. Medium body with juicy acidity. Claret style field blend with an emphasis on the Zinfandel. Blackberry, raspberry, plums and pepper on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. Delicious wine that should be bought by the case at about $12 per bottle. Best version of this wine in recent memory. Drink over the next several years.

My rating: 91 points.

Marietta Cellars makes several other wines that are all noteworthy.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Les Enfants Terribles McFadden Farm

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 August Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Les Enfants Terribles McFadden Farm.

Dashe Cellars is a family-owned artisan winery located in the heart of the Urban Wine Country in Oakland, California. The winery was founded by the husband and wife winemaking team of Michael and Anne Dashe. Dashe Cellars crafted its first vintage of Dry Creek Zinfandel in 1996. Since that time, the Dashe’s have focused on producing exceptional, single-vineyard wines using a traditional, non-industrial approach to winemaking. Dashe makes a wide array of red and whites but Zinfandel is the specialty of the house.

McFadden Farm is situated in the Potter Valley of Mendocino County. Certainly an unusual spot for a Zinfandel Vineyard and perhaps why I was so curious to try this Zinfandel.

Maroon in color. 13.2% ABV. Somewhat closed on the nose with faint aromas of red fruits, flowers and white pepper. Medium body with light to medium acidity. Claret style Zinfandel clearly from a cool climate vineyard. More savory on the palate with flavors of black cherry, salmonberry and iron. Medium length on the finish. Distinct and well made but far afield from what I love about Zinfandel. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 88 points.

$25-$30 at retail and the winery.

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2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Pagani Ranch – 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.

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 Bedrock the fruit goes to Ridge, Seghesio, Biale and Carlisle.

Dark crimson in color. 14.6% ABV. Spellbinding nose of red and black fruits, cloves and fresh flowers. Medium to full bodied with juicy acidity. Black cherry, blackberry, raspberry and cocoa on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. Blockbuster Zinfandel from one of the top vineyards in Sonoma. Nicely done. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 93 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 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

I blogged about Pagani Ranch in Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.

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2011 Carlisle Zinfandel Saitone Ranch – 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 recently added their first whites, two blends from historic, old-vine vineyards plus Sonoma County’s first ever Grüner Veltliner.

Saitone Ranch is situated in the Russian River Valley on the east side of the Laguna de Santa Rosa flood plain and was planted in 1895.

Maroon in color. 15% ABV. Stunning nose of red and blue fruits, licorice and a hint of peach. Medium body with mouth watering acidity. Exceptional balance and tremendous purity of fruit. Raspberry liqueur, blueberries and pepper on the palate. The finish is long, plush and spicy. This was the first vintage of Saitone Ranch from Mike Officer. What a treat! Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 94 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 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2009 Williams Selyem Zinfandel Papera Ranch – Bottle Notes

Williams Selyem Winery began when Ed Selyem and Burt Williams started making wine as a hobby in 1979 in Forestville, California. Their first commercial release was in 1981, and in less than two decades they created a cult-status winery of international acclaim. Setting a new standard for Pinot Noir winemaking, they put Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley at the forefront of the best Pinot Noir regions in the world.

Today, John and Kathe Dyson, who purchased the winery from Burt and Ed in 1998, work with winemaker Jeff Mangahas to carry on the passion for Pinot Noir without compromise. Other varieties bottled at Williams Selyem include Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc.

Papera Vineyard is situated in the Russian River Valley and was planted in 1934 by Charlie Papera. Most vineyards from this era are comprised of a number of mixed black varieties. Papera, on the other hand, is 95% Zinfandel.

Bright crimson in color. 14.7% ABV. Stunning nose of red and black fruits, ginger and black licorice. Plush, highly extracted and impeccably balanced. Raspberry liqueur, blackberry, black cherry and pepper on the palate. The finish is very long and sweet with fine grained tannins. Super Zinfandel from a favorite vineyard. Drink over the next several years.

My rating: 94 points.

Williams Selyem can periodically be found at retail, but the mailing list is highly recommended.

I wrote about Williams Selyem previously in Reflections on Two Days in Russian River Valley and The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2012 Ridge Geyserville – 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. 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.

Geyserville is a traditional field blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet and Mataro. Portions of the vineyard date back 130 years.

Magenta in color. 14.4% ABV. 71% Zinfandel, 19% Carignane, 7% Petite Sirah, 2% Mataro and 1% Alicante Bouschet. Savory, high-toned nose of red and black fruits, earthy loam and asian spices. Medium to full bodied with medium acidity. Ripe and jammy with a sense of elegance. Raspberry, boysenberry, licorice and black pepper on the palate. The long, delicious finish might be the best thing here. Drink over the next 4-7 years.

My rating: 91 points.

This wine is fairly priced at about $35 and the 2015 vintage is a worthy addition to the wine cellar.

Ridge is an annual winner in the Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2010 Outpost Zinfandel Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Outpost Wines was established in 1998 and sits on a pristine piece of land atop Howell Mountain 2200 feet above Napa Valley. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the start and has gained further acclaim making highly sought after wines for Schrader, Rivers-Marie and many others. Besides Zinfandel, Outpost also produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.

I opened this bottle to prepare for the release of the 2015 Zinfandel that will be made available to mailing list members this week.

Maroon in color. 16.1% ABV. Soaring nose of blue and black fruits, flowers and baking spices. Full bodied with medium to strong acidity. Lush, elegant and remarkably well balanced. Blueberry liqueur, black cherry, licorice and black pepper on the palate. The finish is long with dusty Howell Mountain tannins. Delicious Zinfandel that will drink well for the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Outpost wines are only available via the mailing list and sell out quickly. Even at $50 this Zin is a buy for me year in and year out. Don’t miss the Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from True Vineyard. Highly recommended.

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