We did a Zin tasting down at Sansei Waikiki/DK Steakhouse last night with the gang.  Here are some of the highlights.

2010 Rail 2 Rail Zinfandel

We always keep checking out the Lodi & Amador regions of California.  Why?  Because there are so many multi-generational, family owned & farmed vineyards in each, they both really have the potential for producing interesting, wonderfully value oriented wines from older vines.  Here is one of them…..48 year old vines (Lodi)…crafted by up & coming winemaking phenom Eric Laumann.   We really like this particular RED Zinfandel & frequently offer it by the glass at our restaurants.  Why?  Because it is delicious, light, pretty, food friendly & gulpable, the kinds of characteristics we think are apropos for wines by the glass.  (Don’t expect a BIG, hearty, robust Zin here).  Secondly, we think it over delivers for the price & as wine lovers well know, it really is getting harder & harder to find VALUE driven wines.

2006 Papapietro Perry Zinfandel “Elsbree Vineyard”

Imagine going to a restaurant which serves real home-cooked foods, where the food culture & recipes have been handed down through the generations.  It certainly would be a far cry from molecular gastronomy.  I feel that way about Ben Papapietro & his wines.  Ben started making wines, at a later point of his life.  He was one of the true proteges of Pinot master & icon, Burt Williams, the original winemaker/partner of Williams & Selyem…..& his wines show it–very artisan, handcrafted, earnest, unique & very personal….rather than commerical grade.  In addition, this 2006 has fabulous texture…as one would expect from a Pinot maker.

 2010 Witching Stick Zinfandel “Fashauer Vineyard”

Former Edmeades winemaker, Van Williamson, has created his own label named “Witching Stick”, starting with this 2010   Zinfandel “Fashauer Vineyard”.  It is a REAL far cry stylistically from the 16 & 17 degree alcohol wild things he used to produce.  This wine in fact is only 12.8 degrees in alcohol without compromising flavor, vinosity or character.  Yes, this is a NEW chapter for the Vanimal…..and we are super excited.

Here is a note I just received from Van Williamson, winemaker/owner on the newly arrived 2010 Witching Stick Zinfandel which I thought you might find interesting.

This is a field blend of Zinfandel, Grenache, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cinsault from neighboring Dupratt vineyard. Roughly 85 percent Zinfandel.

The vineyard located on Greenwood Ridge 1200 feet above the Anderson Valley & these dry farmed grapes have the smallest berries I have ever seen on Zinfandel clusters. The unique growing site allows for the fruit to rippen fully at lower sugar levels. The darker ripe flavors are apparent in the aroma but the big surprise is when you taste the acidity and tight structure on the palate. No flab and fat zinfandel flavors but more elegant restrained flavors with a long finish.  The wine makes you want something to eat, it leaves your mouth juicy wet wanting a bite of cheese, must be lunch time.

The wine was fermented with naturally occurring yeast and bacteria and aged in French oak for 18 months with 50 percent new oak for 6 months of aging time. Alcohol is 12.8%

2007 Carol Shelton Monga Zin

“Monga Zin” is produced from the Lopez Vineyard (planted in 1918) down in Cucumonga, which is today surrounded on 3 sides by freeway. Dry & organically farmed rock & sand, with scant yields of 1/3 ton per acre normally, this is a historic vineyard.  Old Vine Zin like this is truly a work of passion, as it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense financially. You will want to taste this wine while the vineyard is still around.

2005 Carol Shelton Karma Zin

“Karma Zin” is produced from a 110 year old vine field blend (Rue Vineyard) located in the cooler climate of the Russian River Valley. Yea…..this is pedigree lane….looking at neighboring vineyards such as Belloni, Wood Road & Fanucchi.

2007 Carol Shelton Zinfandel “Rocky Reserve”

Hails from the Florence Vineyard located at 2000 feet elevation above Lake Sonoma & the Dry Creek Valley. 96% Zinfandel & 4% Petite Sirah…..dare I say….Black Zinfandel? 

2007 Scherrer Zinfandel “Old & Mature Vines

One of our all time favorite Zin producers.  I was completely sold on his wines when I tasted his 1991.  My best friend & I, in fact, went looking for him the very next day.  It took us 7 or 8 years until we were finally able to get some of his wine to Hawaii.  The best way I can describe his Zins is to say…..it is old vine Zin crafted by a superb Pinot Noir master.  That way you will understand, rather than hearty, heavy or robust, his is much more about elegance, vinosity & great texture.  The grapes come from his father’s vineyard, located on a bench above Silver Oak’s vineyard in the Alexander Valley.  The “Old” vines were planted in 1912.  The “Mature” vines were planted in 1972, ‘73, ‘74, ‘77 & ’82.    

 2009 Carlisle Zinfandel “Dry Creek”

We were fortunate to meet Mike Officer when he was starting out…..way before all of the incredible accolades & high scores & rating his wines are getting today.  Eventhough his wine have dramatic impact, they are still very well balanced & well textured.  The 2009 Dry Creek Zin is “a blend of Zinfandels, 62% from Ray Teldeschi’s hundred-plus year-old vines and 31% from Rich Mounts’ La Loma Block planted in the fifties. The two seem to work so well together. Seven percent Petite Sirah from Del Carlo Ranch at the north end of Dry Creek rounds out the blend. Aged in all French oak, 26% new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered“.  Wow!


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