Wine of the Week: 2011 Klinker Brick Zinfandel Old Vine Marisa Vineyard

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2011 Klinker Brick Zinfandel Old Vine Marisa Vineyard.

The Winery

Klinker Brick Winery is a family winery owned by Steve and Lori Felten.  The Felten’s are fifth generation winegrowers.  Their daughter Farrah, who is the Tasting Room Manager represents the next generation.

The family’s entrée into the winemaking business wasn’t born of a desire to be winemakers. Rather, they walked through the proverbial winemaking door when they lost their contract to sell to Gallo in 1995.  After losing the Gallo contract they made wine for the bulk market because they had to do something with their fruit.

The Felten’s farm about 600 acres of vineyards, 250 of which are their estate vineyards.  Most of their vineyard are old vine Zinfandel ranging in age from 35 to over 100 years-old. The vineyards are head-trained and dry-farmed.  In addition to their Zinfandel vineyards the Felten’s also own a small 16 acre vineyard, named after their daughter Farrah, that is planted to Syrah.

“As far as vineyards go, we’re now concentrated on the eastern side (i.e. east of Hwy. 99) of Lodi, as far up as Clements.  I guess this is because it’s what I know best, and what I prefer.  The east side of Lodi has a drier climate; and although the sandy loam is pretty much the same as on the west side of the Mokelumne River AVA, the water table tends to be deeper and a soils a little more well-drained, and so we get a little more concentration and structure in our wines.  Vines that are less vigorous, producing fewer clusters and smaller berries, will give you that character, and this an important part of the Klinker Brick style.” – Steve Felten

The first wine they produced under their own label was the 2000 Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel. That bottling remained their top seller. In 2001 they produced their first Farrah Syrah.  The began producing their best Zinfandel, called Old Ghost in 2003.

The Wine

Klinker Brick sources the fruit for this wine comes from an 86-year old vineyard on the east side of Lodi.  The vineyard has been farmed by the Felton family for over 30 years.  Half of the vines, which are grown in a beach-like sandy loam, are own-rooted, and the other half of grafted on to own rooted Tokay.

15.8% alcohol Retail – $35

IMG_1180

My tasting notes follow:

Dark ruby color with intriguing dark fruit, roast coffee, spice, and a bit of eucalyptus aromas. On the palate its medium-bodied with surprising acidity, and dusty tannins. It shows baked blackberry, black raspberry, roast coffee, vanilla and baking spice flavors. Lingering sweet finish.

Rating: A-; A wonderful Zinfandel! I think is a wonderful example where looking solely at a wine’s alcohol level doesn’t do it just. Many would consider 15.8% alcohol to be high, but this wine doesn’t drink like it.

Pair with: Grilled or smoked Ahi Tuna or Pasta Bolognese
Ratings Key:
(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings. Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2011 Ridge Geyserville

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2011 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville.

The Winery

Ridge Vineyards  is a California winery with two estates, Monte Bello in Cupertino, and Lytton Springs in Healdsburg.  They are best known for producing single-vineyard premium Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon Blend (“Monte Bello”), Zinfandels, and Chardonnay.  Ridge was established by three engineers from nearby Stanford Research Institute (SRI).  They produced its first commercial wine in 1962 after purchasing the winery in 1960.

Great wines have always been determined by their site – by nature, not by man – Paul Draper

It wasn’t too long after that, that Ridge gained an international  rep when the  Ridge Monte Bello, under the direction of winemaker Paul Draper , took fifth place in the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976 against nine other French and California wines.  Here’s what’s really cool though, the 1976 Monte Bello unanimously took first place in The Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary when it was tasted against the same wines thirty years later!

Ridge has four estate vineyards, Monte Bello (first commercial release was in 1962), Geyserville (first release 1966), Lytton Springs (first release 1972), and their newest property East Bench.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine comes from Ridge’s Geyserville vineyard located in the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County.  It has is home to the oldest vines that Ridge farms. The “Old Patch” section of the vineyard contains vines that are more than 130 years of age.

Geyserville is a traditional field blend of zinfandel and its complementary varieties: carignane, petite sirah, and mataro (mourvedre). Each vintage is unique, distinct, extraordinary… yet they do have elements in common, including the blackest of blackberry fruit, ripe plum, rich cherry, and cedar. A remarkably consistent and elegant wine with exceptional layering, Geyserville’s unique flavor characteristics are often attributed to the relatively higher percentage of carignane, added to the petite sirah found in most of our other zinfandels. Among the most age-worthy of Ridge wines, Geyserville often drinks beautifully well beyond 10 years of age. – Ridge Vineyards

Click here to watch a video of winemaker Eric Baugher describe this vineyard.

Blend of 78% Zinfandel, 16% Carignane, 4% Petite Sirah, 1% Alicante Bouschet, and 1% Mataro; 14% alcohol; Retail – $38

IMG_0217
My tasting notes follow:
Dark ruby color with lifted kirsch, bramble, lavender and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and balanced with wonderful acidity and tart black cherry, black raspberry and mineral flavors with a long savory finish. Drink now or age for at least 10 years >>Find this wine<<
Rating: A: I adore field blends and this is one is among the best year in year out. And it’s one of the most food friendly Zins I’ve ever had.

Pair with: I went to a Ridge event last year where the 2006 vintage of this wine (drinking beautifully BTW) was paired with Kale, Sausage and Pecorino Pizza.  This would make a great Thanksgiving wine.  And for my vegan brethren consider pairing with Braised Seitan with Black Pepper Plum Sauce. 

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
Related posts:

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2009 Ridge Zinfandel Carmichael Ranch

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Ridge Zinfandel Carmichael Ranch.

The Winery

Ridge Vineyards  is a California winery with two estates, Monte Bello in Cupertino, and Lytton Springs in Healdsburg.  They are best known for producing single-vineyard premium Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon Blend (“Monte Bello”), Zinfandels, and Chardonnay.  Ridge was established by three engineers from nearby Stanford Research Institute (SRI).  They produced its first commercial wine in 1962 after purchasing the winery in 1960.

Great wines have always been determined by their site – by nature, not by man – Paul Draper

It wasn’t too long after that, that Ridge gained an international  rep when the  Ridge Monte Bello, under the direction of winemaker Paul Draper , took fifth place in the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976 against nine other French and California wines.  Here’s what’s really cool though, the 1976 Monte Bello unanimously took first place in The Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary when it was tasted against the same wines thirty years later!

And speaking of anniversaries - 2014 marks our 50th year of producing fine, site-specific zinfandels sourced primarily from pre-Prohibition old vine vineyards.

Ridge has four estate vineyards, Monte Bello (first commercial release was in 1962), Geyserville (first release 1966), Lytton Springs (first release 1972), and their newest property East Bench.

The Wine

Carmichael Ranch is located on the western side of the Alexander Valley, south of Geyserville.  Originally a part of the Rancho Sotoyomi land grant, these hundred acres were purchased in the mid-1800s by Archibald Carmichael. Ridge began farming the western half in 2000. Ridge first pro

It’s a blend of 96% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah. Here’s how Ridge, a leader in wine industry when it come to labeling describes the winemaking process…

All Estate grown grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and
crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full
malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum
effective sulfur (35 ppm at crush, 120 ppm over the course
of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our
philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our
actions

It was aged 13 months in 100% air-dried american oak: (15 % new, 85% two to four years old).  Retail – $28; Alcohol – 14.2%

Ridge Carmichael 09

My tasting notes follow:

Crimson color with appealing ripe mixed black and red fruits, spice, bramble and a hint of leather aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with soft well-integrated sweet tannins, , very good acidity and plum, blackberry, black cherry, and spice finish and a lingering satisfying finish. 

Rating: A-: This relative newcomer to is a delicious addition to Ridge’s formidable lineup of Zinfandels! And it’s drinking very well now!

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2011 JC Cellars Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine of the Week is the 2011 JC Cellars Isabel Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel.

The Winery

JC Cellars (“JCC”) is an award-winning urban winery located in Oakland, CA.  Jeff Cohn is the winemaker and president. His wife Alexandra Cohn is the CFO. The winery was founded in 1997.

JCC is best known for their single vineyard Zinfandels, and Rhone blends. Their impressive portfolio of wines includes white and red Rhône blends, Syrah, Petite Sirah, a few other “red blends” (most notably, the Imposter and Smoke and Mirrors) Pinot Noir, a Rosé, a newly release single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and a dessert wine. Annual production is about 5000 cases.

Jeff has access to some prime fruit, including renowned vineyards such as Rockpile in Sonoma, Stagecoach in Napa, and Dusi in Paso Robles. And Jeff certainly knows how to make great fruit into great wine. JCC has earned boatloads of 90+ point wines from major wine publications like Wine Spectator, and the Wine Advocate.

I think it’s fair to say Jeff likes to “tinker”, or as the JC Cellars website put it… Jeff fuses his passion for classic French winemaking with New World innovation”He released his first Pinot Noir last summer, and sells a Viognier that is a collaboration with a French winery –  Domaine François Villard of Condrieu.  As if his gig at JC Cellars/Jeff Cohn Wines weren’t enough, Jeff is also a consulting winemaker.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Isable Dusi Vineyard in Paso Robles.  Here’s what Jeff says about the vineyard…..

The Isabel Dusi Vineyard sits along Highway 101 in Paso’s Templeton Gap – which means that is gets some cooling influence from the Pacific.  The vines here are 60 to 80 years old, dry farmed, the zin interrupted by an occasional vine of carignane.

Retail – $35; Alcohol – 15.5%; Drink now to 2019.

Wine of the Week; 2011 JC Cellars Isabel Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel

My tasting notes follow:

Garnet color with pleasing blackberry, black cherry, pepper, bramble, spice and a hint of smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, focused,  and well structured, with silky texture, supple well-integrated tannins and blackberry, black cherry, a bit of raspberry, and spice flavor with a delicious long finish. 

Rating: A-: This is an excellent example of how elegant Zinfandel can be!

Pair with:  Smoked baby back ribs!  But don’t stop there…try with smoked or barbecued chicken, Asian mahi mahi

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; Sherman & Hooker’s Shebang Sixth Cuvée

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the Sherman & Hooker’s Shebang Sixth Cuvée.

I picked up this wine when I went to K&L Wine Merchants for a tasting last week. It’s been on my radar for a couple of years, but I’ve just now gotten around to it.   Here’s what K&L says about it…

Shebang is a project of Bedrock Wine Co.’s Morgan Twain-Peterson, who happens to be one of only 30 Masters of Wine in the United States and son of Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson. While Bedrock’s focus is on small-lot, single-vineyard expressions, Shebang is an exuberantly juicy, multi-vintage red blend with a lot of pedigree as well. The Sixth Cuvée is designated as an Old Vine Cuvée for the first time, as 92% of the fruit was sourced from vines more than 90 years old. This includes some declassified fruit from the 100+ year old Bedrock vineyard in Sonoma Valley, as well as other particularly fine old vineyard discoveries. The blend of the Sixth Cuvée is 60% Zinfandel with a primary balance of Carignan, Alicante Bouchet, Syrah, and other assorted old vine, field blend grapes. The wine was fermented on native yeasts, aged in French oak (15% new), and entirely made with the same attention that is given to Bedrock’s wines.

 

The wine was named after the two Civil War generals who founded Bedrock Vineyard in 1854. SRP = $11.99; 14.2% alcohol; 7,500 cases produced

photo (14)

My tasting notes follow:

Inky nearly opaque color with promising candied red fruit and a bit of pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and approaches off-dry, with soft tannins,  and pleasing black cherry, black raspberry, baked blackberry and spice flavors.  Medium finish.  

Rating: B+;  Killer value, and easily the best multi-vintage wine I’ve had! This is a wine I’ll be buy (much) more of, and you should too!

Pair with: Pulled pork sandwich, spaghetti, or pizza

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
Other posts you might enjoy

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Recap of ZAP’s Zinfandel Experience Trade Tasting

I recently (ok – it was a couple of weeks ago) had the pleasure of attending the 2014 ZAP “Zinfandel Experience Trade and Media tasting, which was held at Rock Wall Wine Company.  It was my third consecutive year attending the event.  It’s hosted by the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (“ZAP”), which billed the event as “All New”  because it was held at a new location and had a new format.

Another new thing about the event was that ZAP referred to it as an “experience” rather than a “festival” as it has been referred to in the past.

We chose to name the event Experience rather than Festival to carry forward the intention of our guests receiving a more interactive and significant, value-added opportunity from their participation

The pre-event Trade and Media tasting consisted of two parts – a Trade/Media Tasting Seminar, and the Trade/Media Tasting.  The main event was held Jan 23-25.

The seminar was held in the Geodesic Dome at Rock Wall.  And when I sat down at my table…

What to my heart’s delight did appear?

But six shiny wine glasses…filled with Bedrock, Carlisle and Turley my dear!!  To wit…

  • 2009 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel O Brother! Bedrock Vineyard
  • 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Bedrock Heritage Wine
  • 2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch (N/A)
  • 2011 Carlisle Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard (N/A)
  • 2009 Turley Zinfandel Zampatti Vineyard
  • 2011 Turley Zinfandel Rattlesnake Ridge

Note: my scores for each wine are may be found below in as all were among my favorites:

Yup..the ZAP folks could give a lesson or two on how to run a seminar – Sip some great wines while listening to three of the best winemakers California has to offer chop it up about all things Zinfandel!

The wines, which were essentially an ice-breaker, were from the 2009 and 2011 vintages and initially the discussion was around the differences between the two vintages.  But it quickly took off in a more interesting directions.

Recap of ZAP Zinfandel Experience Media/Trade Tasting

Photo by Martin Redmond

The official topic for the Trade Tasting Seminar was “Zinfandel’s Renaissance - California’s quintessential wine is growing beyond its cult status and entering the big time” (or as Tim Fish of the Wine Spectator, who expertly moderated the panel put it – “Taking it up a notch”.

The panel featured winemakers Morgan Twain-Peterson (Bedrock Wine Co.), Mike Officer (Carlisle Winery and Vineyards), and Tegan Passalacqua (Turley Wine Cellars).   .

Recap of ZAP Zinfandel Experience Trade/Media Tasting

Photo by Martin Redmond; L-R – Tegan Passalaqua, Mike Officer, Morgan Twain-Peterson, Tim Fish

A variety of topics were discussed including stuff you would expect winemakers to talk about like vintage variation, cooperage, alcohol levels, pH, and the importance of farming, but some of the more interesting takeaways for me were:

  • The importance of differentiating between grape growing and wine growing (preferred) for quality fruit
  • Vintage variation as a good thing because specific vintages can take us back to events, and milestones in our lives, and that’s part of what makes wines special for wine lovers – a bottle of wine can evoke memories of special times in our lives.
  • Zinfandel blends that include mixed black grapes make a more complete and complex wine
  • Zinfandel is getting better and better for a variety of reasons including 1.) the experience of winemakers with the grape, 2.) clonal selection

After the  seminar, which I thoroughly enjoyed, it was on to the tasting…

The tasting featured close to 100 wineries (and I’m sure there were even more on Saturday!).  It was a wonderful opportunity to explore (mostly) new releases, and chat with the winemakers about their wines.

By my count…there were nearly 250 wines available for tasting…Based on the sheer quantity of wines available, I decided to forego the detailed tasting notes this time around and simply score the wines. Doing so enabled me to taste more wines!

Initially, I targeted new (to me) wineries. That’s one of the best things about attending a big tasting like this, discovering new wineries you otherwise would not get a chance to taste.  Of course, that which meant skipping some perennial top-notch producers like Dashe Cellars, Jeff Cohn Cellars, Ridge and Seghesio. But I always find some time at the end for “taster’s choice” so I can get taste some favorites that are just too good to pass up!

I tasted 67 wines, including many new (to me) wineries, several of which made my list of favorites.  My All-Stars (at least 3 wines I rated at least 90 points were Bedrock Wine Company, Brown Estate,  and Chase Cellars) My complete list  of my favorite wines ( rated at least 90 points)  follows:

  • 2011 Accademia dei Racemi Zinfandel Primitivo di Manduria Sinfarosa ($25) – 90
  • 2010 Ancient Oak Cellars Zinfandel Pagnano Vineyard ($32) – 90
  • 2009 J. Baldwin Wines Zinfandel Rattlesnake Ridge Vineyard (N/A) – 90
  • 2011 Beekeeper Cellars Zinfandel Madrone Spring ($65) – 92
  • 2009 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel O Brother! Bedrock Vineyard (N/A)- 91
  • 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Bedrock Heritage Wine (N.A) - 92
  • 2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine ($25) – 91 
  • 2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Evangelho Vineyard ($35) – 92
  • 2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Lorenzo’s Heritage ($45) – 93
  • 2012 Beltane Ranch Zinfandel ($44) – 90
  • 2012 Robert Biale Zinfandel R.W. Moore Vineyard ($50) – 92
  • 2012 Robert Biale Zinfandel Rocky Ridge ($50) – 93
  • 2012 Brown Estate Zinfandel Chiles Valley ($42) – 92
  • 2012 Brown Estate Chaos Theory ($40) – 91
  • 2012 Brown Estate Zinfandel Rosemary’s Block ($55) – 90
  • 2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch (N/A) - 92
  • 2011 Carlisle Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard (N/A) - 91

photo 4 (2)

  • 2009 Chase Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard ($45) – 90
  • 2010 Chase Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard (($45) – 90
  • 2010 Chase Zinfandel Reserve Hayne Vineyard ($75) – 91
  • 2009 Deering Zinfandel ($42) – 90
  • 2011 Harney Lane Zinfandel Old Vine Lizzy James Vineyard ($35) – 90
  • 2011 Ottimino Zinfandel Ottimino Vineyard ($32)- 90
  • 2011 Ottimino Zinfandel Biglieri Vineyard ($34) – 91
  • 2010 Carol Shelton Wines Zinfandel Rocky Reserve Rockpile Ridge Vineyard ($35) – 90
  • 2009 Turley Zinfandel Zampatti Vineyard - 90
  • 2011 Turley Zinfandel Rattlesnake Ridge - 91

Conclusion

It was a great afternoon!  I enjoyed the new venue, and the event was well run. Both the seminar and of course the tasting were fantastic.

My take on the state of Zinfandel?  The quality of wines made from America’s heritage grape variety has never been better. Compared to prior tastings, I found more depth and sophistication across the board this year than in prior years.

Related posts you might like:

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2010 Woodenhead Zinfandel Leras Ranches Bertoli

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Woodenhead Zinfandel Leras Ranches Bertoli.

The Winery

Woodenhead Vintners is owned by Nikolai Stez, and Zina Bower.  Nikolai grew up in the Russian River Valley, and was drawn to wine at an early age and began some home winemaking while still in college. His formal winemaking education consisted of attending the Horticulture and Viticulture program at Santa Rosa Junior College and attending a few classes at UC Davis. He began to seriously make garage wines in 1986 while being mentored at Williams Selyem.

He was assistant winemaker at Williams-Selyem before launching Woodenhead.  His domestic partner, Zina Bower, is equally passionate about wine, and is involved as well, handling the marketing and business side of Woodenhead. She also has a day job as business manager at Diamond Creek Vineyards in Napa Valley.

The name, “Woodenhead,” was a name given to Nicolai by an old girlfriend who thought that he was very stubborn 

In addition to Zinfandel, Woodenhead produces amazing Pinot Nori, a French Colombard, and a unique French Colombard based sparkling wine. They aspire Burgundian style wines with California fruit. They produce approximately 4,000 case of wine annually.

I’ve visited Woodenhead a couple of times.  I’ve always really enjoyed the wines and inevitably end up purchasing some bottles.  The tasting room is located on River Road in Santa Rosa and is perched on a small hill that overlooks the Russian River Valley.  I have fond memories on sitting on the patio, sipping their wonderful wines and taking in the glorious view.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine was sourced from  the  Leras Ranch.  The vineyard, originally owned by the Bertoli Family, was planted sometime between the late 30’s and early 40’s, making it approximately 70 years old (I’d say that qualifies as “old vine”!)  Nick Leras is the current owner and both farms and manages the vineyard.

The vineyard is head-trained and completely dry-farmed and the soil is primarily dark clay loam.

The wine is aged in French oak, and is bottled unfiltered and unfined.

photo (50)

My tasting notes follow:

Deep violet color with lifted intoxicating aromas of balsamic vinegar, oriental spice, and mixed dark fruits. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and balanced with a supple mouth feel. It shows blackberry, black cherry, plum and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. SRP; $30; 15.2% alcohol; 172 cases produced

Rating: A-; A truly lovely Zin….that I heartily recommend!

Pair with: Pulled pork, lamb chops, or chicken mole!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2009 JC Cellars Iron Hill Zinfandel

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 JC Cellars Iron Hill Zinfandel.

The Winery

JC Cellars (“JCC”) is an award-winning urban winery located in Oakland, CA.  Jeff Cohn is the winemaker and president. His wife Alexandra Cohn is the CFO. The winery was founded in 1997.

JCC is best known for their single vineyard Zinfandels, and Rhone blends. Their impressive portfolio of wines includes white and red Rhône blends, Syrah, Petite Sirah, a few other “red blends” (most notably, the Imposter and Smoke and Mirrors) Pinot Noir, a Rosé, a newly release single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and a dessert wine. Annual production is about 5000 cases.

Jeff has access to some prime fruit, including renowned vineyards such as Rockpile in Sonoma, Stagecoach in Napa, and Dusi in Paso Robles. And Jeff certainly knows how to make great fruit into great wine. JCC has earned boatloads of 90+ point wines from major wine publications like Wine Spectator, and the Wine Advocate.

I think it’s fair to say Jeff likes to “tinker”, or as the JC Cellars website put it… Jeff fuses his passion for classic French winemaking with New World innovation”He released his first Pinot Noir this summer, and sells a Viognier that is a collaboration with a French winery –  Domaine François Villard of Condrieu.  As if his gig at JC Cellars/Jeff Cohn Wines weren’t enough, Jeff is also a consulting winemaker.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine was sourced for the Iron Hill Vineyard in Sonoma Valley.  The vineyard is planted on volcanic rock,  with not much dirt to speak of, and a very large lavender patch right next to the vineyard.  It produces a Zinfandel that is distinctive and exotic that’s more in tune with Côte Rôtie in Northern Rhone than Sonoma.

 JC Cellars Iron Hill Zinfandel

My tasting notes follow:

Nearly opaque purple color with lifted lavender, leather, dark fruits, white pepper, and a bit of garrigue aromas. On the palate, it approaches full-bodied, and is fresh with a plush mouthfeel and layers of black raspberry, black cherry, blueberry, red currant and spice flavors. Medium long finish.  SRP-$35 |225 cases| 14.8% alcohol

Wine purchased for review

Rating: A-: An outstanding and exotic Zinfandel!  

Pair with: Brazilian Feijoada or Moroccan tajine

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Old Vines

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Old Vines.

Winery

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards is a small Sonoma County based winery  based in Santa Rosa. According their website they specialize in the..

…production of old-vine, vineyard designated Zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Petite Sirah).

Mike Officer is the Owner/Winemaker.  He caught the wine “bug” early – at age 19 – when he tasted a late-harvest Riesling (It seems like we all start with sweet wines doesn’t it?) After graduating from college, he worked in software development for five years, but realized that was not his passion.  He knew the answer would involve wine, but he wasn’t sure in what capacity.

He decided to try winemaking,  starting with making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen.  Some years later, he  and his wife Kendall found themselves making 300 cases of “garage” wine.  They decided to jump in with both feet and established Carlisle Winery & Vineyards in 1998.  They’ve focused on old-vine Zinfandel, and red Rhône blends, until the 2010 vintage, when they made their first white wines.

In addition to their own estate vineyard, they source grapes from Sonoma County, primarily the Russian River, and Dry Creek AVAs.  Officer always been a fan of old-vine vineyards.   In fact, of the 16 vineyard sources listed on their website, half ( Gold Mine RanchMartinelli Road VineyardMontafi RanchPagani Ranch VineyardPapera Ranch, Rossi Ranch Vineyard, Saitone Ranch, and Two Acres) are considered historic vineyards by the Historic Vineyard Society .

 The Wine

The fruit for this wine is sourced 50% from the Montafi Ranch vineyard, and 50% from the Carlisle Vineyard.  Under normal circumstances, Carlisle would have produced separate bottlings from each vineyard, but a late August heat spike damaged 80% of the crop.  Rather than making less of each bottling, Carlisle decided to blend the fruit from the two vineyards.

The Carlisle Vineyard was planted in 1927.  And the Montafi Ranch vineyard was planted in 1926. As was typical at the time, both vineyards are field blends consisting of predominantly Zinfandel, but also interspersed with other grape varieties like Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Syrah, and Grand Noir de la Calmette.

The wine was aged in 30% new french oak.  It was bottled unfiltered and unfined.

2010 Carlisle Russian River Old Vine Zinfandel

My tasting notes follow:

Opaque ruby color with lovely briary, perfumed kirsch, baked black and blue fruit, and baking spice aromas.  On the palate it’s approaches full-bodied, and is balanced and fresh with a supple mouth feel.  It shows an intense core of blackberry, blueberry, and cherry and black raspberry, and spice flavors. Long finish.  SRP – $45; 15.9% alcohol; 270 cases produced

Rating: A-: This is an outstanding Zinfandel

Pair with: A full-bodied wine such as this would pair well with robust dishes such as roast lamb, meat stews, hearty pastas, or barbequed dishes.  This Zinfandel is more food friendly than most because of its lively acidity!

Carlisle wines are available via a mailing list.  The mailing list is currently closed, but if you would like to be added to the waiting list, click here.  You may also >>Find this wine<<.

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2010 Dashe Cellars Todd Brothers Zinfandel

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Dashe Cellars Todd Brothers Zinfandel.

The Winery

Dashe Cellars, founded by Michael and Ann Dashe in 1996, is an urban winery located near Jack London Square in Oakland, CA. Michael Dashe is the Winemaker, and Anne Dashe is the General Manager. Between the two, they have 40-plus years experience in the wine business, including experience at some big-time wineries such as Ridge Vineyards, Far Niente, Chappellet, Schramsberg Wine Cellars in California; Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château La Dominique in France,and Cloudy Bay in New Zealand. The winery produces about 10,000 cases annually.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine is sourced from Todd Brothers Ranch in Alexander Valley.  The vineyard was planted in 1958. Fruit from the vineyard is sold exclusively to Dashe.

This is the thirteenth vintage that we’ve made wine from these great old vines grown in one of the best red-soil vineyards in Sonoma.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the vineyard, and it’s beautiful. The 50-year-old Zinfandel vines in the vineyard grow in bright red volcanic soil on steep hillsides in Geyserville.   Dashe also sources fruit for their Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah from the Todd Brothers Ranch.

The grapes are fermented on native yeasts.  The wine was aged for 14 months in one-year-old or older French oak barrels.  It’s a blend of 97% Zinfandel, 3% Petite Sirah (both from the Todd Brothers Ranch)| 14.5% alcohol| SRP – $35| Cork closure

Dashe Todd Bros Zin 2010

My tasting notes follow:

Crimson,black color mixed black and red berry, spiced, bramble and cacao aromas. On the palate, medium-bodied, energetic, and well balanced with black cherry, raspberry, bittersweet chocolate and vanilla flavor. Long finish.

Rating:  A-:

Pair with: Grilled meats (try lamb), Pizza (a meat-lovers, or combination come to mind), or substantial pasta dishes with red sauce.

Related Posts:

Sample purchased for review 

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!

Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.