Back                                                                                                                                  May 1, 2010        

              Bringing Four Top Notch Zinfandels Into Focus

Drinking a single wine with a meal over the course of a couple of hours is a great way to force your palate to focus on the wine's distinctive characteristics. Its pros and cons and whether or not you want to revisit it in the future. This is in contrast to tasting wines in a line-up where your palate is prone to quickly gravitate toward the wine that  is either "your style" or is the biggest in weight and richness, even if some of the other wines in the line-up are of higher quality.

With this in mind, Rafik Samuel and I tasted through four top-notch, single-vineyard Zinfandels from the 2007 vintage. Two of these wines I had rated before and used these here as benchmarks. All four wines come in at about $35 a bottle suggested retail, but can be found for as much as $5 less. Here are my notes in the order tasted.

88   2007  Ravenswood  Belloni  Zinfandel (Russian River Valley) $35
  14.8% alc   1300cases produced
Color: Deep purple raspberry garnet. (3.0) Bouquet: Excellent tart Zinberry fruit with eucalyptus and black licorice nuances. Shows a little heat and sulfur. (3.0) Body: Excellent fruit and acidity with a lively mouthfeel. A solid middleweight that comes off a little lean and mean. (3.0) Flavor: Parallels bouquet, but tart chalky acidity and some heat are a little austere. (2.5) Finish: Parallels flavor. (2.5)
Overall: This has plenty of fruit but the youthfully austere structure sticks out at present and needs time to smooth and integrate. Also has interesting secondary nuances of eucalyptus and black licorice. (14.0)

92+   2007  Ridge  Pagani Ranch Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley) $ 35
  14.3% alc
Color: Deep purple garnet, deeper than the Belloni. (3.0) Bouquet: Intense briar complementing excellent fruit. (3.0) Body: Light heavyweight with excellent fruit and acidity and some tannin. Well balanced and has the structure to age for 5+ years. Concentrated fruit coats the mouth. (3.5) Flavor: Delicious black cherry and boysenberry with lots of attractive spice. (3.5) Finish: Parallels flavor with a little fierce acidity. (3.0)
Overall: Outstanding old vines fruit and acidity-based structure. Concentrated, but elegant for its size. The bouquet is a little restrained at present, but this has the balance to improve over the next 4-6 years. Delicious already. (16.0)

91   2007  Rosenblum  Rockpile Road Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) $ 35
  15.3% alc
Color: Dense garnet that is less purple than the first two. (3.0) Bouquet: Delicious black plum and tart cherry jump out of the glass. Best bouquet yet. (3.5) Body: Excellent acidity and fruit. Heavyweight, but not as balanced or elegant as the Pagani. (3.0) Flavor: Very ripe black plum and fig with briar underneath. (3.5) Finish: Parallels flavor with some tannins and heat here needing time to resolve. (3.0)
Overall: Shows very ripe black plum, fresh fig and black cherry fruit that manages to not go over the border into over-ripeness. A little bigger than the Pagani, this is Dry Creek Valley afterall, but not as balanced, pure and elegant. This should improve in the next 5 years if the fruit doesn't become over-ripe. (15.5)

92+  2007  Ravenswood Teldeschi Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) $ 35
  14.5% alc  3560cases produced
Color: Very deep purple garnet. Deepest of all. (3.5) Bouquet: Black pepper, eucalyptus and briar on black raspberry and stewed cherry fruit. (3.0) Body: Big tannins and acidity with excellent fruit underneath. Impressive balance for its size, but don't expect elegance. (3.5) Flavor: Parallels bouquet with more giving fruit. (3.0) Finish: Parallels flavor with impressive length. (3.0)
Overall: It's got terrific structure, combined with great balance and concentration. The rich herbal components are interesting. This has a long life ahead of it, 10 years at least, but is so rich and well balanced that it's delicious now after an hour in a decanter, but needs food. (16)

Final Impressions
 The Belloni was very good, but just got outclassed here by what I consider to be three of the best single vineyard Zins made. Rafik was in total agreement. We also agreed that the Pagani is the most delicious and "ready to drink" of the bunch, even though it too is young. As for projections, I favor the Teldeschi for overall winner in the long run while Rafik has high hopes for the Rockpile. I would be proud to serve any of these three to anyone, anytime. Terrific wines.


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