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You may have noted that we return to the subject of Zinfandel with some degree of frequency. It’s probably because the value index is extraordinarily high, plus we really like the stuff. Zin is truly versatile; it can be made in a light, fruity rosé style, in the style of a claret, or in a ripe-to-overripe rendering, and finally as a late harvest or port wine. If you have any misunderstanding of these styles, you’re in luck: we’re trying all of these this Saturday.
2009 PEDRONCELLI DRY ROSÉ OF ZINFANDEL, DRY CREEK VALLEY
List price 9.00; our price 7.99
In the early 1950s, John Pedroncelli created a rosé originally from a blend of grapes and called it Vin Rosé. In 1954, he created the Zinfandel Rosé and the winery has made one every year since. The grapes for this rosé were harvested from the Pedroncelli estate vineyards along with fruit from one other grower. The strawberry bouquet gives way to red raspberry, currant and plum flavors that are the highlights of this crisp, enjoyable wine. This potpourri of fruit, with time, will take on a jammy element but it is doubtful there will be any unopened bottles by then.
2008 DRY CREEK VINEYARD HERITAGE ZINFANDEL, SONOMA COUNTY
List price 16.00; our price 13.99
This blend from Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley fruit, displays all that is appealing about Zinfandel. The warm 2008 vintage produced beautifully ripe grapes. This very well balanced wine shows aromas of raspberries, cherries and spicy oak, followed by flavors of blueberry pie and dark chocolate. Wine Spectator Magazine gives it an 88-point rating: “The ’08 is zesty and full of deep plum and blackberry fruit, finishing with notes of cedar, dill and lively tannins. Very drinkable with 13.5% alcohol.”
2007 GNAUGHTY VINES OLD VINE ZINFANDEL, DRY CREEK VALLEY,
List price 17.00; our price 14.99
Concentrating their flavors to produce wines of astonishing depth and complexity, the knotty grape vines surrender their tender fruit to yield ripe raspberry flavors to the max. The wine is well balanced and displays an accent of creamy oak.
2007 MURPHY-GOODE ZINFANDEL “LIAR’S DICE”, SONOMA COUNTY
List price 19.95; our price 15.99
The late Tim Murphy was the architect of the Zinfandel program in a plan conceived over 20 years of breakfasts and “liar’s dice” games at Mickey’s Café in Geyserville. Tim’s circle of friends at these early morning meetings are some of the finest Zin growers in Sonoma County and now are the fruit source for Liar’s Dice Zinfandel. Dense black cherry, raspberry jam, and currant notes are brought together in layers with sweet vanilla oak. The Dry Creek grapes contribute black raspberry and currants and are blended with the Alexander Valley fruit imparting rich, fruit flavors of black cherry and blackberry jam. Soft tannins perfectly balance the sweetness of the fruit. Here is a big, rich, impressively stuffed Zinfandel that keys keenly on juicy, blackberry-like fruit, and, if hinting at chocolate, it does so without crossing the line into late-harvest ripeness. It is full, fleshy and just a touch firm in structure, and, while tasty now, it has room for improvement with age. It picked up a Gold Medal at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair
2009 CHRONIC CELLARS PURPLE PARADISE ZINFANDEL, PASO ROBLES
List price 19.95; our price 17.95
The blend in this wine is 95% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Sirah. It is bursting with raspberries and strawberries and is complemented by white pepper, vanilla, and sage. It is smooth on the palate, with light tannins and a hint of fruity sweetness. Delicious!
2006 HAWLEY ZINFANDEL, LATE HARVEST, DRY CREEK VALLEY
List price 22.00; our price 17.99
John Hawley has a great wine-making history, including stops at Kendall-Jackson and Clos Du Bois. John now makes small lot, hands on wines, with the help of his two sons at a brand new winery near the Sonoma town of Healdsburg. The grapes were hand picked so that the selected clusters were not too raisined and had some acidity to balance out the sweetness. This small lot was fermented in one-ton open top fermenters and the skins were punched down every few hours. The wine was drained when it fermented to about 5% sugar and the skins were pressed off in an old manual basket press. The wine was aged for seven months in French and American oak barrels and is slightly sweet at about 5% residual sugar. Selective hand picking helped achieve a balanced acidity to offset the sweetness. The profile focuses on ripe raspberry and blackberry jam with hints of raisins and chocolate.