Tag Archives: zinfandel

Joel’s Best: ’10 Ravenswood Teldeschi, 96 Points Again!

Joel Peterson, Owner of Ravenswood Winery

Joel Peterson, Owner of Ravenswood Winery

You know zin and you know Joel Peterson. And the “godfather of zinfandel” knows that the old Teldeschi planting is one of the best vineyards there is for the black grape the early immigrants loved. It was one of the first places he found in his campaign to revive Califonia’s heritage wine years ago. He’s found a dozen ancient zin sites all over the state, but Teldeschi still rules in my book. In 2010 like so many years before, it makes a righteously pure zin with a punch of petite sirah. Purple and almost blue black, it’s got blackberries, brambles, anise, spice, fire and smoke all in a sophisticated drink that you’ll want to keep.

2010 Ravenswood Zin Teldeschi
…full-bodied, noticeably tannic composition that is lifted by its deep and keenly focused blackberry fruit, and by the way it manages to exude power and inner strength yet is never the least bit overdone… 96 points, Connoisseurs’ Guide

Ridge Has Mastered Zin Again in 2010!

Leave it to the Zin master, Paul Draper (and team) to pull a rabbit out of a hat! 2010 was a wickedly fickle year. For most of the growing season, Mother Nature couldn’t decide if a particularly cold spring was ever going to give way to summer. This led to some canopy thinning by some growers so that the shivering grapes could catch the ripening caress of the sun’s rays. Textbook. Then things went wild during a three day August heat spike that massively reduced yields. Some vineyards were complete losses, but not Draper’s. He’s been in this too long to be caught completely pants down. Leaving more canopy than others, Ridge’s sites, while sustaining loss, were left with riper fruit, and owing to the overall cool season, racy acids. These are fresh, elegant Zin blends with lots of zip. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave consistent 90+ points to Ridge’s 2010s, and having tasted them too, they are some of the most supple and subtly complex Zins of the season.

 

 
2010 Ridge Geyserville

The 2010 Geyserville impresses for its sensual perfume, bright red cherries, rose petals and stone fruit. The Carignane plays an important role in the personality of the 2010….

 
2010 Ridge Lytton Springs

…Firm tannins frame an expressive core of dark red cherries, flowers and sweet herbs. The inner perfume of Zinfandel resonates on the finish. The 2010 needs time to soften, but it is quite beautiful….

 

 
2010 Ridge Zinfandel Paso Robles

Offers appealing aromas of plum, licorice and underbrush that lead to concentrated flavors of smoky black cherry and spicy herbs. Shows nicely focused acid and tannin balance….

 

 
2010 Ridge Zinfandel East Bench

…Sweet red cherries, freshly cut flowers and spices waft… The tannins are still quite firm, but this will be a great wine once the tannins soften. Crystalline notes add a fabulous element of purity on the finish….

 

 
2010 Ridge Estate Chardonnay

…concentrated, intense Meyer-lemon tart, mineral and honeysuckle flavors, yet it’s elegant, with streamlined acidity. Oak adds the perfect touch of buttered toast. This showcases the opulence of Chardonnay…

 

Ridge Masters Zin Again in 2010!

Leave it to the Zin master, Paul Draper (and team) to pull a rabbit out of a hat! 2010 was a wickedly fickle year. For most of the growing season, Mother Nature couldn’t decide if a particularly cold spring was ever going to give way to summer. This led to some canopy thinning by some growers so that the shivering grapes could catch the ripening caress of the sun’s rays. Textbook. Then things went wild during a three day August heat spike that massively reduced yields. Some vineyards were complete losses, but not Draper’s. He’s been in this too long to be caught completely pants down. Leaving more canopy than others, Ridge’s sites, while sustaining loss, were left with riper fruit, and owing to the overall cool season, racy acids. These are fresh, elegant Zin blends with lots of zip. Antonio Galloni of Wine Advocate gave consistent 90+ points to Ridge’s 2010s, and having tasted them too, they are some of the most supple and subtly complex Zins of the season.

 

 
2010 Ridge Geyserville

The 2010 Geyserville impresses for its sensual perfume, bright red cherries, rose petals and stone fruit. The Carignane plays an important role in the personality of the 2010….

2010 Ridge Lytton Springs

…Firm tannins frame an expressive core of dark red cherries, flowers and sweet herbs. The inner perfume of Zinfandel resonates on the finish. The 2010 needs time to soften, but it is quite beautiful….

2010 Ridge Zinfandel Paso Robles

Offers appealing aromas of plum, licorice and underbrush that lead to concentrated flavors of smoky black cherry and spicy herbs. Shows nicely focused acid and tannin balance….

 

2010 Ridge Estate Chardonnay

…concentrated, intense Meyer-lemon tart, mineral and honeysuckle flavors, yet it’s elegant, with streamlined acidity. Oak adds the perfect touch of buttered toast. This showcases the opulence of Chardonnay…

Mastering Zin in 2010: Ridge Does It Again!

Leave it to the Zin master, Paul Draper (and team) to pull a rabbit out of a hat! 2010 was a wickedly fickle year. For most of the growing season, Mother Nature couldn’t decide if a particularly cold spring was ever going to give way to summer. This led to some canopy thinning by some growers so that the shivering grapes could catch the ripening caress of the sun’s rays. Textbook. Then things went wild during a three day August heat spike that massively reduced yields. Some vineyards were complete losses, but not Draper’s. He’s been in this too long to be caught completely pants down. Leaving more canopy than others, Ridge’s sites, while sustaining loss, were left with riper fruit, and owing to the overall cool season, racy acids. These are fresh, elegant Zin blends with lots of zip. Antonio Galloni of Wine Advocate gave consistent 90+ points to Ridge’s 2010s, and having tasted them too, they are some of the most supple and subtly complex Zins of the season.

 

 
2010 Ridge Lytton Springs

…Firm tannins frame an expressive core of dark red cherries, flowers and sweet herbs. The inner perfume of Zinfandel resonates on the finish. The 2010 needs time to soften, but it is quite beautiful….

2010 Ridge Geyserville

The 2010 Geyserville impresses for its sensual perfume, bright red cherries, rose petals and stone fruit. The Carignane plays an important role in the personality of the 2010….

2010 Ridge Zinfandel, Paso Robles

Offers appealing aromas of plum, licorice and underbrush that lead to concentrated flavors of smoky black cherry and spicy herbs. Shows nicely focused acid and tannin balance….

2010 Ridge Zinfandel East Bench

…strikingly beautiful. …Sweet red cherries, freshly cut flowers and spices waft from the glass in this gorgeous offering. …Crystalline notes add a fabulous element of purity on the finish. …a true standout…

2010 Ridge Estate Chardonnay

…mineral and honeysuckle flavors, yet it’s elegant, with streamlined acidity. Oak adds the perfect touch of buttered toast. This showcases the opulence of Chardonnay, while maintaining balance and dryness.

 

Ravenswood’s Zin Master Comes In For a B-21 Landing!

Joel Peterson is the Zin Man. There’s really only one other name for the guy who put single-vineyard, Sonoma County Zin on the public palate like Joel did. He was almost born with a tastevin in his hand thanks to his father’s school of “shut up and spit” tasting to understand, not drink. Joel developed a rather good palate that led him to be a respected S.F. Bay area wine writer and consultant. In the early ’70s, he went to learn from the era’s great Zin guru, Joseph Swan, in the Russian River Valley. Under his tutor’s masterful eye, Joel learned to harvest grapes by taste, to understand that farming for less fruit was better than more, that wild yeasts, while tricky, result in more authentic wines, to ferment longer and to age in French oak. In 1976, the spirit of independence grabbed hold and he decided to make his own wine and Ravenswood was born. Since then, Joel himself has become a protector and promoter of CA terroir who believes that site specific Zin is spellbinding. He’s got a way with words nearly as deft as his hand with vines and wines, sharing straight stories about what’s in the glass while letting the wines speak for themselves. Don’t take my word for it, though, Joel will be in store October 3rd from 3 to 6pm, so drop in and meet the Master of Zinfandel.

 

2008 Ravenswood Teldeschi Zin…Keenly focused on optimally ripe berries and showing the stunning concentration of classic old-vine Zinfandel, it is wonderfully well-balanced for the big wine that it is, and its layered flavors last and last….
2009 Ravenswood Barricia Zin…Explosive scents of black raspberry, cracked pepper, Asian spices and violet. Then sweet, pliant and graceful in the mouth, with a silky texture and lively red and dark berry flavors. …remarkably elegant….
2009 Ravenswood Dickerson Zin…Sweet, focused red fruit preserve flavors are given strong spine by zesty minerality, picking up an exotic floral pastille quality with air. Expands nicely on the finish, leaving behind sweet floral and raspberry notes….
2009 Ravenswood Belloni Zin…Bright and graceful, with sexy candied cherry and black raspberry flavors and silky tannins. A tangy mineral note arrives on the back half and carries through the long, sappy finish….

Back to Basics

Bedrock 2009 Heirloom Red, 92+WA

Tasting this spectacular offering from Ravenswood creator Joel Peterson’s uber-talented son, Morgan, will give you a sense of his respect for California’s historic vineyards. It borders on a devoutness that is nearly evangelical. His is a quest not only to save our collective vineyard heritage, but to do so by crafting wines that are seductive, serious, approachable and sublime. According to Robert Parker, these aren’t simply good, they are “wines that deliver phenomenal quality for the money.” So, what is the Heirloom all about? It’s a pretty much a classic, old school California field blend of grapes that were planted ages ago, most predating Prohibition. The 2010 is 60% Zin, 25% Carignane with the remaining 15% a unique blend of 22 varieties that speckle the vineyard here and there. Much like the U.S. it’s a tapestry yielding a distinctive whole with layers and layers of dark fruit, hints of herbs, and touches of silk. A true American beauty.

 

2010 Bedrock Heirloom

…Dark black cherries, plums, graphite, mint, wild herbs and licorice are woven together in this gorgeous, finely sculpted wine. Layers of sweet, perfumed fruit develop in the glass, adding lift and freshness….

New Release: 2010 Ridge Geyserville 91-93WA

Here’s an offer to you for a wine that has stood the test of time for the grand American vine, Zinfandel and the near mythical winemaker, Paul Draper. Ridge has bottled Geyserville Zin for years and years, 2010 marking Draper’s 41st bottling from the site. Pretty darned special, and you’ll know once you taste it that the vineyard, lovingly tended by the Trentadue family, is singular, some vines boasting 130 years of age! The cool 2010 produced a solid, lithe wine with poise and finesse. There were heat spikes too, a few August days when temps soared into the triple digits. Yields for this ancient vineyard were cut by 50% so quantities of this enticing elixir are limited.

 

2010 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel

The 2010 Geyserville impresses for its sensual perfume, bright red cherries, rose petals and stone fruit. The Carignane plays an important role in the personality of the 2010….

Michael Chiarello: Cookin’ Up Killer Reds!

Stopped by Bottega in St. Helena, the hottest restaurant in Napa owned and run by famed Food Network star (and chef) Michael Chiarello. In the ’90s he bought 20 acres in St. Helena, where he built his home amid 10 acres of darn near ancient (94 yr old) Zinfandel and Petite Sirah vines. With tutelage from greats like Turley and Tom Brown (consults for Outpost and Schrader), Michael and staff have fashioned exciting new releases that keep right up with his culinary achievements. The Giana Zinfandel has loads of black cherries, raspberries, mint, vanilla, honeysuckle and chocolate; textbook Napa zin in every way. The Bambino Cabernet is a pure Napa expression, full throttled juice and a silky landing. You will love these. Limited quantities.

 

2009 Chiarello Zinfandel Giana

…loads of black cherries, raspberries, mint, vanilla, honeysuckle and chocolate; textbook Napa zin in every way….

93 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

2009 Chiarello Cabernet Bambino

…a pure Napa expression, full throttled juice and a silky landing….
93 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Michael Chiarello: Cookin’ Up Killer Reds!

Stopped by Bottega in St. Helena, the hottest restaurant in Napa owned and run by famed Food Network star (and chef) Michael Chiarello. In the ’90s he bought 20 acres in St. Helena, where he built his home amid 10 acres of darn near ancient (94 yr old) Zinfandel and Petite Sirah vines. With tutelage from greats like Turley and Tom Brown (consults for Outpost and Schrader), Michael and staff have fashioned exciting new releases that keep right up with his culinary achievements. The Giana Zinfandel has loads of black cherries, raspberries, mint, vanilla, honeysuckle and chocolate; textbook Napa zin in every way. The Bambino Cabernet is a pure Napa expression, full throttled juice and a silky landing. You will love these. Limited quantities.

 

2009 Chiarello Zinfandel Giana

…loads of black cherries, raspberries, mint, vanilla, honeysuckle and chocolate; textbook Napa zin in every way….

2009 Chiarello Cabernet Bambino

…a pure Napa expression, full throttled juice and a silky landing….

High on the Ridge

Thrilling 94 Point California Red

Ridge’s latest masterful zin comes from the same brilliant guy, Paul Draper. He is too precise to be a romantic, but he certainly believes in the magic of place, very specific places… and so do I. For 50 years, Paul has followed the old timers’ old vines and smart geology to the best sites in California for his favorite grapes. Top of the list for zinfandel is Geyserville in Sonoma. Always good stuff and, in fabulous years, great. While earth and rocks provide a mineral core and the sun makes the wines lush and inviting, Draper’s careful winemaking adds elegance, polish and balance. He uses old Rhone-ish grapes like petite sirah and carignane generously and he’s fastidious about quality. Ridge shows how easy it is to make great wine in California if you have the best natural sites and brilliant humans. Ridge does.

 

2009 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel

…Gorgeous wine. …inner perfume, sweet black cherries, menthol and minerals. …considerable finesse and fabulous overall balance. A round, sensual finish makes it impossible to resist a second taste….

Do you want merlot with that?

Fast food and wine

The American Dream

Maybe not. Wine and fast-food pairing is not so easy for some of the national chains that have tried it, the New York Times reports. Problem isn’t blue nosed prohibitionists so much as personnel and logistics issues, like needing older servers and occasionally bouncers. Still, you can more than caffeine, and fizzy sodas at a few Starbucks in Seattle, at Sonic Drive-In in Homestead, and a few of Burger King’s upscale Whopper Bars, like Vegas, New York City and South Beach. Don’t look for beer or wine in Orlando at Florida’s other Whopper Bar Universal’s City Walk, though they do have bourbon burgers.

I won’t argue whether that unoaked chardonnay or an ’09 CdR is best with Double Whopper or Sonic’s Bacon & Blue hot dog (crisp rose?). I do think that prudery and snobbery combine to opposes the idea of wine with everyday food. Beer has it easier. Beer goes with brats at the ballgame and burgers on the grill, but most of us like a cheap red with pizza. And why not? Saying “Europe does it better” is tiresome but sometimes true. In long road trips from Spain to Germany last year I avoided fast food but stopped in plenty of gas stations. Almost all served drink as well as food. Beer, wine, brandy as well as espresso. Nothing fancier than the cellophane sandwiches. Hard to call that wining and dining “sophisticated,” but it does seem …mature.

WA Rates Foxglove: Mind-Boggling CA Value, 90 pts!

Yep. Parker’s buddy Antonio Galloni was blown away by Foxglove’s wines. I’m offering these gems from brothers Bob and Jim Varner way below big-box prices, great buys in high-quality cab, zin and chardonnay from the Central Coast. The Varners are Edna Valley heroes everywhere, from Parker to Decanter to Food & Wine for their estate wines (the Varner and Neely labels), and the new Foxglove line sourced from the best winegrowers they know. “The Varners clearly have the magic touch. These are among the finest values readers will find anywhere in the world.” You bet, Antonio. These guys have always done great with chard and I think the Paso Robles reds are as good. A lush cab and a very earthy zin are here too. You don’t have to pay that much at B-21. Load up on Foxglove today!

2010 Foxglove Chardonnay

2010 Foxglove Chardonnay

2010 Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Foxglove Zinfandel

2009 Foxglove Zinfandel

Napa’s Ed Sbragia Wins In Dry Creek!

2010 Sbragia Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc

2010 Sbragia Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc

I’ve known Ed and his wines for so long I can almost pronounce his last name (suh-BRAH-juh). Knew him as you did from Beringer where he was the guy behind the best stuff. His heart’s always been in Sonoma where he grew up, raised his own family and has his own label and winery. Family vineyards too: Zin comes from vineyards named for his dad, Gino; the cab grows at Doc Andolsen’s, the family doctor. I like family stories, but the wines are the point. Pure Dry Creek, extremely fresh and juicy cabernet, remarkably elegant zinfandel, crisp sauv blanc. That’s a happy family right there. I salute them.

2009 Sbragia Gino's Vineyard Zinfandel

2009 Sbragia Gino

2009 Sbragia Andolsen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Sbragia Andolsen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Quoth Ravenswood: Evermore!

Zinfandel doesn’t get much better than Ravenswood’s old-vine single vineyard wines. Deep dark drinks of black fruit, spice, earth and smoke. Gutsy wines yet they dance with grace. The only question is which of these vineyards was best in 2008. Wine Enthusiast prefers Old Hill, a fantastic old-school field blend with more grapes than Chateaunuef du Pape (and many of the same ones). Connoisseurs’ Guide picks the Teldeschi, and I can see that point too. It’s one of the first places Joel Peterson bought grapes, the rustic zin, petite sirah and carignane planted by pioneering Italian immigrants in Dry Creek. These are two of the best zins ever from people who love America’s proud frontier grape. If you do too, you know these wines are must haves.