Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review: 2006 Ridge “Old School” Zinfandel

Maybe ZinfanGirl is easily influenced by the name, but this zin had “old vine” written all over it. Well, that’s half correct. “Two of the four chosen parcels contain nineteenth-century vines, two were planted in the 1960s,” reads the label. Hm. Tastes more old vine to me, but who am I to argue with Ridge? ;)

This wine is a clear red, more garnet than ruby (I need to discover more red gemstones; I feel all my reviews regarding color refer to at least one of these two stones). Must be the 15% Carignane, because surely 2% Petite Sirah isn’t enough to affect the color (PS would make it more inky anyway).

Spice, spice, spice… and fruit, of course, but I think spice wins this one. I detect a hint of licorice as well. The palate and back are nice, but there isn’t much to the front. Perhaps I should left this one on the ZinfanRack for a spell? Too late now!

Another good Ridge wine, but nothing special. With respect to the wine, perhaps I should have waited a bit to open but. But it claims to be delicious now (and it is), and once again… who am I to argue with Ridge?
Zin out,

For more info, visit Ridge Old School Zinfandel

Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: 2007 Ravenswood Mendocino County Zinfandel

First of all, apologies for the less-than-great picture. Second of all, my bottle of Ravenswood’s Mendocino zinfandel is in a *green* bottle—does the one in the picture not look clear to you? And by clear I guess I really mean colorless... anyway, I digress.

Ravenswood's wine maker describes this wine as “very Mendocino.” Not being too familiar with wines from the Mendocino region, I will take his word for it. I’m guessing he means that the cooler weather makes wines from here a bit different than their usual Sonoma juice. There’s only one way to find out…

The blue-red hue conjures up images of rubies. My first sip of this tangy yet berry-forward wine brings to mind one distinct flavor: strawberry fruit Roll-ups. The mild tannins are noticeable, but they work well to balance out the front & back while still preserving the berry goodness that is Zinfandel.

So, Mendocino, I may just have to pay you a visit one of these days. Up for a new ZinfanFriend?

For more info, visit Ravenswood Mendocino Co. Zinfandel

Review: 2007 Four Vines “Sophisticate” Zinfandel

Every time I write about Four Vines, I feel compelled to once again thank Brandy at Donati Family for the recommendation. Seriously Brandy, THANK YOU from the bottom of my little ZinfanHeart.

Imagine my delight when, just one month after joining the Four Vines Incident, our first shipment arrived. Sophisticate is unlike any zin I’ve ever tasted. It is delectable to all the senses. The color instantly reveals that this zin has been fooling around with a bit of Petite Sirah: dark ruby with a slight blue-purple tint. The nose is slightly sweet, but not jammy-sweet like most zins; nay, Sophisticate smells a bit like caramel and a bit like licorice. The sensory pleasures continue into the mouth: tangy front, an almost candy-like (but not saccharine) back, and a sensuous finish. I swear it tasted a bit like coconut; Four Vines claims it’s “vanilla oak.” Whatever it is, it’s not traditionally zin-like, but it works.

Four Vines, you’re too good to me.

For more info (but no buying-- Sophisticate is sold out!) Four Vines Sophisticate Zinfandel

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Report: Livermore Left Intact

Might I pat myself on the back for introducing yet another wine tasting virgin to my scene. We three girls had a fabulous time exploring my new favorite part of the East Bay: lunching, wine-ing, and enjoying the fantastic Livermore sunshine!

We started off with a delicious lunch at Wente's restaurant. We ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (not Wente's-- is that a faux pas? Oh well.) and it was hands down the best Sauvignon Blanc I have had in a really, really long time. Brophy Clark 2006, Santa Ynez Valley, Valley View Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, just blogging about it reminds me that I best look it up & order some online if need be! Once again, a Wente treated us to a spuerb meal and wonderful service, right down to writing "Happy Birthday" in chocolate on Kelly's crème brûlée.

Happy birthday, wine tasting newbie! @the Restaurant at Wente

Well, since there's a tasting room just a few feet away... off we go!  Being the former sorority girls that we are, we decided we had to have a color theme (red) and wear boas. Birthday girl Kelly got a tiara. We were quite the festive sight!

@Wente vineyards (I appear to have sweated off my make-up).

My comrades were pleased that Wente accomodated their desire for only white wines. How can I be friends with a couple of Reisling lovers is beyond me. As DD, I couldn't even finish off their red wine rejects. Alas, not everyone is as red wine savvy as ZinfanGirl!

Next up was White Crane. What a little gem! They were offering something like 9 tastes for $5-- wowzers! And like any good winery, this was waived with any purchase. We arrived uncertain of where the tasting was. Could it be that little wooden shed just past the vines? That was when we heard the singing...

Our red-clothed, feather-adorned selves entered just as the singing finished. We immediately received remarks about our boas. After explaining that it was Kelly's birthday, the entire winery launched into a (second) round of, "Happy Birthday!" The vibe in that little tasting room was friendly, fun and welcoming-- always good traits, in my Zinfan-pinion. And it's always a rare treat to start your tasting with a sparkling wine-- double points for that, White Crane!

Boas, tiaras & red, oh my! @White Crane

After consulting our trusty map (I'm on the verge of brekaing up with my GPS-- seriously, don't get me started), we found that another recommended winery, Charles R, was just down the road. ZinfanHubby's good friends told us they like Charles R because it is "off the beaten path." They were not joking. I had faith that the Horace-mobile could make it down this gravelly dirt road, and was not disappointed (Horace, like ZinfanGirl, would never let some dirt & rocks interfere with wine).

Literally, off the beaten path! @Charles R Vineyards

Charles R had an interested Chardonnay called Sur Lies, a method which uses less batonnage to bring out the fruit flavors. I knew immediately what this meant even before the lady held the bottle up for my friends to see. "Ewww!" was the (predicted) reaction to the sight of sediment floating in the bottle. ZinfanGirl, however, found it interesting. Dredges & sediment, while not ideal, are just something you deal with in the wine world. Like having to scoop poop if you own a cat, it just comes with the territory (not to insinuate that ZinfanGirl would ever swallow cat poop. Just sayin'.). Our visit to Charles R concluded with Deena's pink melted frosted birthday cupcakes outside in their lovely little picnic area.

Thanks to Kelly for the photos. I better actually, you know, make sure she's OK with me posting them on here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Livermore Ladies

An old ZinfanFriend from my college days is coming up from SoCal this weekend for her birthday. She has never been wine tasting, and I consider it my ZinfanDuty to remedy this situation immediately. Remember what happened when I found out my pal Noah had never been? In case you don't, please see Hunting the Black Chicken Pt. 1 and Hunting the Black Chicken Pt. 2 to refresh your memory. I take wine tasting virgins and corrupt them into converts-for-life, and Kelly will be no different.

Tomorrow I am loading up our sexy little convertible (with Horace the beaver in tow, natch) with Kelly and a couple of other sorority sisters. Yes, I was a sorostitute in college. Laugh now & get it over with. Done? OK, moving on... So the ladies & I are heading across the Bay to Livermore for a day of wine tasting. The fine folks at Wente/Murrieta's Well/Tamas Estates gave ZinfanHubby & I each a "passport" during our last visit: by collecting stamps from each of the 3 wineries, we each received a gift certificate of $25 off any $50+ purchase. In exchange from being spared an afternoon of wine-ing with a gaggle of giggly girls, ZinfanHubby is relinquishing his passport to the cause-- the cause being lunch at Wente's restaurant. Yum!

As the official director of this trip, I haven't decided which wineries to go to. I'm sure we'll taste at Wente before we have lunch-- well, the girls will. I'm driving, and have tasted at Wente before, so I will save my palate for new locales. A friend who hits up Livermore wineries regularly recommended White Crane and Charles R Vineyards. A fellow Twine'o tweeted a few recs as well: Tenuta, Bent Creek, Ruby Hill and Charles R (again-- I better put Mr. R at the top of my list).

So there's my ZinfanPlans for the weekend. What are yours? Where are ya headed, and who are ya headed there with? And if you should happen to see a convertible cruising through Livermore with 4 girls all wearing red & sporting boas, say hi. We won't bite... hard ;)

I'm Zinfan-OUT!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

El Review: 2008 Calixa Rosado

The time has come to issue my verdict on my south-of-the-border wine purchase! I had a feeling I would end up pairing this wine with seafood, and I was right. I shared it with ZinfanHubby & two others last Saturday night over a dinner of mildly spicy crab-stuffed scallops, couscous and wilted greens, and it was, in the words of Goldilocks, just right.

The first thing I noticed about this rosé rosado was the color. It was a lighter pink than I usually see, with an almost orange-y hue to it. No matter, wine ain't for starin' at, it's for drinkin'! The wine had an acidic nose reminiscent of tart fruit. The flavor is like biting into a ruby red grapefruit: crisp, citric, not quite sweet but not not sweet, if that makes sense. The finish is clean and there is very little aftertaste. I bet this rosado would go smashingly well with a famous Baja California fish taco.

Verdict: Wow, Mexico! And I thought I was just here for the cerveza... I'll join you for a glass of wine any time!

Sadly I couldn't find a picture of this wine online, but here is the website with a little animated image & info about the wine


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Review: 2006 Ridge Zinfandel: Nervo Vineyard, Sonoma Co. ATP

Ah Ridge, thy reputation preceeds you! Actually, you do a fine job of living up to that reputation-- at least, the Judgment of Paris thought so ;)

Imagine my joy when ZinfanHubby came home the other day with shipments from both Ravenswood and Ridge. Imagine my continued joy when ZinfanHubby came home a couple of days later with shipments from the same two wineries. Turns out the thoughtful folks at Ravenswood and Ridge had held our prior shipments until the heat spell passed. Many thanks from ZinfanGirl for your preventive measures!

So, Nervo... it says this wine is enjoyable now, but "will be at its best over the next four to five years." ZinfanGirl stopped paying attention after the "enjoyable now" bit. Upon opening the wine didn't seem very special-- balanced body, very soft tannins, no detectable flavors. But having been aerated for a few minutes now, our little Nervo is warming up: a lush, almost caramel-y sweet nose that carries into the forward taste. Not too sweet-- we should all know by now that ZinfanGirl does not do sweet wines-- and cleans up with an extremely smooth finish. Looking at the wine, you can see what a heavy influence the 7% Petite Sirah has on the color: one may have difficulty pegging this as a zin based on sight alone, as the Nervo has the depth and blue-purple hue of the Petite Sirah. But the traditional zin flavors are revealed to the drinker as soon as the wine is tasted.

Verdict: While delicious, and certainly complex, the Nervo isn't anything uber-special in my book. Perhaps I should've listened and let it chillax for a few years, but what can ya do? :)


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back in the US of A

ZinfanGirl is back from vacay, tanned (OK, sunburnt) and refreshed! Not much to say wine-wise about the trip south of the border; after all, the national wine of Mexico is TEQUILA! But if there is anyone who can sniff out the grape juice, it's... well, OK, it's actually ZinfanHubby, but his lovely wife is a close second.

The resort's house wines were mostly all Chilean (has anyone ever heard of a "house" Malbec before??). Although I hoped to nab a bottle of Mexican wine, I wasn't holding my breath-- the wine community responded to my query of, "Does it exist?" with, "Nada." Alas, at the Mega Mart near our resort, there was indeed a modest section of Mexican wine. ZinfanGirl was surprised to see that majority of Mexican white wines (all 3 or 4 of them) were Chenin Blanc, as she associates C'Blanc with the Loire Valley and, by default, cold climates. The handful of reds were mostly Cabernet, with a couple of Merlots and a Tempranillo thrown in too. Knowing the US of A would only allow this little wine-o to bring back one bottle of yumminess, ZinfanGirl thought quickly, and decided to compromise with a bottle of rosé-- rosado, in fact-- that is verifiably hecho en Mexico!

The selection of rosadas slightly outnumbered the selections of whites & reds, with more variety: merlot, cabernet and grenache. ZinfanGirl nabbed a bottle of the latter. What a delightful souvenier! It is now sitting proudly on the small kitchen wine rack, waiting to be chilled and opened at just the right time. Yum!

Having dispelled the rumor that Mexican wines don't exist, ZinfanGirl is left with one more query: what would be a worthy meal to accompany this rosado mexicano? And please don't say tacos-- the ZinfanTummy has had enough of those for awhile!