Archive for July, 2017

Zinfest 2017

(Editor’s note: On Saturday, July 22nd, our friends Joel Goldberg and Michael Schafer staged an amazing Zinfandel tasting at Chez Goldberg that Kim and I would have loved to have attended. Sadly, due to previously scheduled engagements, we couldn’t be there, but our partner in crime, Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan had the date open, and has dutifully filed the following report.)  Click images to enlarge.

I love blush wines too,” is an answer I commonly hear when I proclaim Zinfandel is one of my favourite varietals. Or, “Yeah, Zins are tasty, but they don’t age well.” Well as it turns out, thanks to the courtesy and kindness of both Joel Goldberg and Michael Schafer, I was able to taste some fabulously aged Zins, none of which had anything to blush about, and with the exception of one, were all really exemplary examples of how super tasty and age worthy this grape can be. I have deciphered some of my scribblings of the wines I tasted and here are my thoughts.

ZINFEST 2017: A Gold/Schaf Production
TABLE #1: ZINTO THE ABYSS

1986 Ravenswood Canard: I have never heard of this Vineyard, but the resulting wine has lots of tomato and red fruit aromas, a solid palate with notes of plum, chocolate and some dusty tannins. Find this wine1989 Topolos Rossi Ranch: Mineral, parsley stems, plum, blueberry, cherry and leather all come together nicely and are holding up very well. Find this wine

1993 Marietta Angeli Cuvee: Sweet spice and caramel, plenty of toasty oak; tasty, but the fruit is fading slightly. Find this wine

1995 Marietta Angeli Cuvee: Layers of youthful fruit featuring black fruit, black raspberry, some chocolate and a long creamy finish. Find this wine

2000 Marietta Angeli Cuvee: Metallic and mineral aromas, massive tiers of fig, plum, black raspberry and black cherry. The finish is fruit driven and still showing plenty of tannins and spice. Find this wine

1993 Gary Farrell Collins Vineyard: A blast of pepper and stewed fruit balanced by clean acidity, but starting to fade on the finish. Find this wine

1993 Topolos Ultimo: Even though the colour is light, there are gutsy flavours of red cherry, blueberry, cake spice and forest floor. Nice brambly fruit on the palate, a solid finish and showing very well. Find this wine

1994 A. Rafanelli: Sadly corked. Find this wine

1995 Topolos Pagani Ranch: Wow, what a treat! An amazing blend of Asian spice, mineral, slate, licorice Allsorts, mint, mocha and a whack of dark fruit. It could live on for a few more years. Well done. Find this wine
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A Box of Tablas Creek

So we got this box of six late model wines from Tablas Creek Vineyard several weeks ago, and, as always, we were delighted to once again have the opportunity to taste what’s new from our favorite Paso Robles producer. Everything these folks turn out is exceptional, and they do it in a manner that is always impressive without any of the over-ripe, over-oaked excesses you get from far too many Californian producers, in my not-so-humble opinion.

We gave the wines three weeks in the cellar to settle down after their cross-country journey, and then began our investigation with the two selections of the pink persuasion.

2016 Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas Rosé Paso Robles, 73% Grenache, 17% Mourvedre, 6% Counoise, 4% Syrah, 13.0% alc., $25.00: Pale peachy pink in color, with mineral-laden watermelon and strawberry flavors and aromas, more in the French style than Californian; medium bodied, with racy acidity and good length. The minerality is what strikes me most about this wine, as it may be more upfront than any TC rosé I can remember, and that’s a good thing in my book.

TC: The bulk of the Patelin de Tablas Rosé is Grenache, picked and direct-pressed into stainless steel tanks with minimum skin contact. The small Syrah component was treated similarly. These were supplemented with saignée lots (bleedings) from Mourvèdre and Counoise in the cellar to provide some color and structure. Only native yeasts were used in the fermentation. After fermentation, the wines were blended and cold-stabilized, and bottled in February 2017. Find this wine

34% Grenache and Tablas-clone Mourvèdre from Hollyhock (El Pomar)
18% Grenache from KamRidge (Creston)
12% Greanche from Starr Ranch (Adelaida District)
11% Syrah and Mourvedre from Derby (Templeton Gap)
8% Grenache from Beckwith (Adelaida District)
7% Grenache from Cass (El Pomar)
6% Counoise from Clautiere (Geneseo District)
4% Grenache from the Tablas Creek certified organic estate vineyard

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Rockin’ Red Number One

It was just Kim and me for the 4th of July. We didn’t want to do anything “special,” so it was nice to simply relax at home, grill a C. Roy steak for two, along with some corn on the cob and see what this old friend from Mr. Ridge had to offer. We’ve had it several times before (here’s one time, and here’s another), but not in quite a few years, so we figured it had to have gone through some changes for the better in the intervening years.

Guess what? It has!

1997 Ridge Geyserville Sonoma; 74 % Zinfandel, 15 % Carignane, 10 % Petite Sirah, 1 % Mataro, 14.9% alc.: The cork broke while I attempted to pry it from the bottle, so we had to excavate it and carefully decant through a strainer. Once we got past that, it was all good. There’s more than a hint of brick to the otherwise clean, dark color, and it’s slightly funky on the nose at first, but leather, berry and plum shine through with some swirlatude. Big, rich, luscious and silky smooth in the mouth; there’s definitely some secondary action going on here, mostly leather with a hint of mahogany, and the big core of fruit wears it so well, all with a nice, earthy base underneath. You can certainly tell that this is a Ridge, but I wouldn’t characterize it as having what we often refer to as “Draper perfume.” That’s a descriptor I usually reserve for younger wines. Utterly delicious; this is why you lay these babies down with confidence for 20 years, because they usually evolve into things of beauty. This one is in no danger of fading anytime soon, so you can leave it alone for five-to-ten years or more, but it’s so good now, I’d have a hard time keeping hands off, if we had more. Sadly, this was the last one. Find this wine

I stated at the beginning of this blog entry that we didn’t want to do anything special on this 4th of July, but now that I look back, this amazing wine was something very special indeed. If you have any of this in your cellar, chances are very good that yours will be very special too.

Reporting from Day-twah,

Bastardo

Rockin’ Red Number Two

That ne’er-do-well Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan showed up at our door last week for our annual pre-Electric Forest dinner. Chef Kerr has been my accomplice for the last four EF festivals, proving that old dudes like us can indeed find fulfillment each summer with all “the hippies and dub-steppers and the techno-matic freaks” that I sing about in my song, “In My Element.” I don’t know about him, but it’s my best four days of every year. He keeps coming back for more, so I’m guessing that he enjoys himself too.

We kept things simple. I ran for a couple of pizzas, some meatballs and a roasted beet and arugula salad, and after enjoying a bottle of the 2008 Cantina Sociale Cooperativa Copertino Riserva that I reported on most recently, Alan pulled this little beauty out of his bag of tricks. I’ve had plenty of Bandol in my day, but very little from Domaines Ott, those being a red and a rosé. Nevertheless, I had the feeling that we might be in for a treat, and I wasn’t wrong.

1999 Domaines Ott Bandol, 13% alc.: Clean, dark color, with little, if any, bricking to speak of at this point; aromatics reminiscent of leather, tobacco and a bit of the barnyard carry over onto the palate, where they grace a huge core of big, earthy black plum. This is a big red, still substantially structured and not close to its peak, but it’s already delivering ample pleasure at 19 years of age, and it works well with Bigalora Bacco Sausage and White Anchovies Pizzas. CZ added, “The tannins are nice and silky.” Find this wine

It was a great way to start another extended wild weekend in the Forest, and the last wine I would drink until the following Monday.

Reporting from Day-twah,

Bastardo

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Rockin’ Red Number Three

As previously mentioned in these pages, our new go-to restaurant in the greater Day-twah area is Otus Supply, in Ferndale. Owners Thom Bloom and Scott Myrick have created a spacious, well-appointed venue that we’ve been hooked on since we paid our first visit late this past winter. (It should also be mentioned here that we directed our partner-in-crime, Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan, and three of his Niagara College chef-type colleagues, to stop in to Otus during a recent visit, and they were just as jazzed with the place as we are.) The staff is very well trained and knowledgeable, the food is uniformly excellent, and the small wine list looks to be composed of high quality bottlings, but, truth be told, we haven’t been able to tear ourselves away from our initial selection noted here to try any of the others, because we like it so well.

2008 Cantina Sociale Cooperativa Copertino Riserva, 95% Negroamaro, 5% Malvasia Nera, 13% alc., $40 restaurant, $20 take out: Clean and dark in color, with a lovely nose of mahogany, tobacco, dried cherries and leather; rich, earthy and intense, the flavors echo and expand beautifully. Full bodied, but not “heavy,” and still structured for several more years of aging and development, this is drinking very well right now, which is why we order another bottle every time we dine at Otus Supply, where it pairs so well with the Wagyu Beef Tartar, Filthy Animal Pizza (pesto, pine nuts and guanciale) and Rigatoni Alla Norcina. Find this wine

Imported by Banville Wine Merchants, North Bergen, NJ

Reporting from Day-twah,

Bastardo

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