Tag Archives: Old Vine

Now and Zin at Whole Foods Market North Miami

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This past weekend in addition to our T.G.I.F. / Thank God It’s Fermented Fridays wine tastings and our casual Saturday afternoon wine tastings it was time for Now and Zin: a Guide to California’s Old-Vine Zinfandels class!

The event was held outdoors under our covered patio [thank you to the weather Gods!] and attended by about a dozen people who pre-registered for the class.

As the photo’s will show the Zinfandel’s paired beautifully with dark chocolate, sausage pizza and various cheeses including: Nancy’s Camembert, an American Artisan cheese from Hudson River Valley NY. A blend of cow and sheep’s milk topped with spicy plum chutney. All of course from Whole Foods Market North Miami.

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We got to enjoy about seven different Zinfandel’s and I must stress the word “enjoy”.  Luckily we didn’t have a bad one among the bunch. Although I must admit favorites were discussed throughout the class and even afterwards as we just had to go back for more and make sure.

I’ll list all the wines below. If we had one clear winner I would have to say it was the SALDO from Orin Swift. A close second would have been the Seghesio with Earthquake and Predator all close too. But as I said all our Zin’s had their fans,  and the fans had their ZIN’s!  ¡SALUD!

WineClass3   Four Vines Truant:  It is blended from vineyards around the state, but it is 77% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese. On the nose there are dark berry notes and spicy notes from oak aging. The wine drinks of juicy blackberry, ripe plums and a touch of blueberry. Generous in fruit flavors, plenty of structure and a velvety finish. 


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The Lodi appellation PREDATOR Zinfandel is sourced from 50+ year old vines. Aromas of chocolate espresso bean, smoked bacon [yes it’s true!], and baked berries. Medium to full body.

JOEL GOTT100% ZIN The largest component of our blend for this vintage is old vine Zinfandel from Lodi.  With fruit from Sonoma, Mendocino and the Shenandoah Valley in Amador. 

Decoy Zinfandel – This Sonoma County wine offers raspberry jam aromas, as well as hints of vanilla, clove and white pepper. Like a fresh-baked berry tart, the raspberry notes continue on the palate where they are supported by sweet oak and spice flavors that carry through to the finish. This is a lovely Zinfandel expressing both richness and balance.

SALDO – The 2011 Saldo has an intense ruby color and bold aromas of dark berry fruit, blueberry pie, cardamom and baking spice. The entry is rich and full, and leads into a broad mid palate with concentration and density, backed by lively acidity. The texture is soft and velvety, with polished tannins. The finish is long with persistent notes of chocolate, roasted coffee bean and vanilla spice.

Seghesio Vineyards Winemaker Notes:
Spicy, lush black fruit of Alexander Valley
Briary and raspberry flavors, along with structure, of cooler Dry Creek Valley
Characteristic synergy of components – balanced and elegantly structured
Earthquake –  Over the top and shattering to the veins, all varietals under the Earthquake label are Michael David’s reserve level wines.  These wines possess major concentration and daring flavor with only a limited production offered each year.  The original is the Earthquake Zin that comes from an old Lodi vineyard planted around the time of San Francisco’s great Earthquake in 1906.  While mulling over a label name in the vineyard, Michael Phillips thought it only seemed fitting to relate this intense wine with the historical quake.  With over 15% alcohol and bold tannins, these dark and voluminous will definitely leave your senses quivering.
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HARK – The Holidays Approacheth!!

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Happy Holidays

With that statement from a friendly customer a few days ago I knew it was here. As it quickly approaches the holiday season is once again sneaking up on us. From dead of summer to Halloween POW! it’s time for; Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day and New Years Eve just to name a few.

Recently I was asked to act as Interim Store Director for our Winn Dixie liquor store; thus begins my first holiday season in retail. Fortunately sales of wine and spirits are through the roof with daily sales increases in the high double and even triple digits compared to last year. Thank you wine buyers!

With the holidays upon us and family parties to help plan and take part in I have given a lot of thought to what wines to bring, gift, recommend and most importantly partake of. Luckily 2012 has exposed me to many good wines,  most of them affordable and easily accessible.  So upon much review I hereby offer what I hope will be a list of good value very drinkable wines that I have discovered throughout the year. Wines  meant to be shared with family and friends.  My official:   2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. For additional information on each just click on the links provided below.

Old Vine Zinfandel– After many tastings this year of this varietal, and I might add not really a stinker in the bunch, I ended up with an almost tie between Project Paso and Four Vines. The winner, FourVines which I have now had about three times in the last month. For the value it cannot be beat. Usually priced in the $12.00 range it can be found on sale now for $7-10.00.

Pinot Noir– Again it came down to two: Chile’s The Show and California’s Concannon. The winner is the Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir. Price range: $8-12.00.

Red Blend I lucked out with blends this year and the two that automatically come to mind would be; Argentina’s Amado Sur [$11-13.00] by Trivento and the Dream Tree Crush by rocker Dave Matthews and Steve Reeder [$15-18.00].  If you are looking for a bolder taste I’d choose the Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blended Amado Sur. For smooth and light I’d suggest the Dream Tree Crush.

Côtes-du-Rhône-   LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009.  A mostly Grenache Rhone that yes even goes excellently with corned beef. Price range; under $15.00.

White Bordeaux/Sauvignon Blanc- Chateau Montet at $8.99 vs. Chateau Tour de Bonnet Blanc $14.99. Both very good wines and values. That said if I were having a holiday party serving a large group; my “go to” wine would be the Chateau Montet. Everyone will be pleased.

Champagne/Sparkling Wine  One choice automatically jumps to the forefront: Champagne De Magerie A Bouzy Grand Cru [$35-40.00].  At this price, for me at least, it is not an everyday wine but a great special occasion choice.  Domaine Ste. Michelle [$15.00] has been our house sparkler for years but since I am writing about 2012 discoveries Piper Sonoma Sparkling Brut at $12.99 gets my vote.

Riesling- Chateau Ste. Michelle out of Washington State can do no wrong by me with their many worthy wines. Their Riesling and Sweet Harvest Riesling [$10.00] are affordable, dependable good wines. An easy choice. A new discovery for me this year was the Dr Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling. At $11.99 also delicious and dependable.

Merlot Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards from Washington State’s Columbia Valley is my clear winner. Their 2007 vintage was so memorable that 8 months later I am still thinking about it.  Priced in the $18-22.00 range it is worthy of the investment.

Malbec- For me all roads lead to Argentina’s LAMADRID. From their baseline Malbec [$10.00] to the RESERVE [$18.00] to their GRAN RESERVE [$28-35.00], which I recently finally tried after sitting on the bottle for 2 years, all are worthy.  Beautiful wines of which I wholeheartedly approve for vintages; 2008, 2009, 2010.

Chardonnay Over the summer I discovered a delicious Chardonnay; Hess Select from California’s Monterey region [$8-15.00]. More recently we have enjoyed Sonoma County’s Sebastiani [$8-12.00]. Both are rich and very well-balanced. For a non-California style Chardonnay [i.e. little or no wood] I suggest Fat Bastard  [$7-12.00] out of France.  Sourced from all over the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Those accustomed to oaky California Chardonnay’s may think they are drinking a completely different varietal. It is smooth yet  dry.

Cabernet Sauvignon- This category for me turned out to be the most varied in pricing. We lucked out; great Cab’s ranging from $10.00 to over $50.00. In the lower priced range Cycles Gladiator was a great find. One that our store now easily goes through a case a week.  In the mid-$20.00 range Sonoma’s  Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve was a wonderful treat, also one I’d like to revisit.  And at the higher end of the spectrum the delicious and exciting Stag’s Leap Artemis comes to mind; complex, full-bodied and powerful.

Sauternes- To complete our holiday meal or any special occasion I always think of Sauternes,  although you can also enjoy this sweet french wine at the start of your evening as an apéritif.  Our 2012 discovery was the 2008 Chateau Doisy-Védrines. Not inexpensive at $30.00 for a 375ml [half] bottle, but it is always worthy of a special occasion shared with worthy family and friends.

Here we are at the end of our first ever 2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. As 2012 starts to wind down I’d like to take this opportunity to be thankful. Very thankful to all my supporters and followers, some that I have had the honor of communicating with and getting to know throughout the year.  All your visits and comments have meant the world to me. Thanks to all of you,  2012 will always be my year of  Whine and Cheers for Wine! 

Thank you!

Happy Holidays

and  ¡SALUD!

 

My life in Zin continues with Four Vines 2009 Old Vine Cuvée

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Four Vines 2009 Old Vine Cuvée

Interesting how I cannot get Zin-ful thoughts out of my head. As I have stated before, most recently in My Zinful Weekend post: Zin to the left of me, Zin to the right…Zin everywhere I turn.

This is yet another wine that I have discovered via my Wine Stewardship with Winn-Dixie.  The price range is $$8.00-$12.00 at your local wine source including grocery stores with sales and coupons bringing down the price to as low as $6-7.00!  Let’s just cut to the chase: at the lower price range I would classify this as a BUY! Even at a $10.00+ price point still a very good buy.  I would compare it to other mass-produced [nothing wrong with that] Zinfandel’s in the $15-$20.00 range. Plus you just have to give them extra points for calling their product “Cuvée”.

Purple Wine CompanyFour Vines originally started by Christian Tietje in 1994 was sold to the Purple Wine Company in 2010. As per Wine Spectator;  a little-known Sonoma firm led by one of the founders of the successful Blackstone brand which was sold off to Constellation Brands in 2001. Purple Wine Company was also in the news earlier this year for selling off their popular Mark West Pinot Noir to again Constellation for a reported $160,000,000.00. Still owned by Purple Wine Company are; Avalon, Bex, Four Vines and Cryptic.

From Wine Spectator who has rated this wine 86 points: Purple Wine focuses on varietal-specific brands such as Mark West Pinot Noir [now sold off], Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon and Rock Rabbit Sauvignon Blanc. Wines are produced in various facilities around the state, including the firm’s warehouse plant in Graton. Its sister business is Sonoma Wine Company, a custom crush and private label house. 

Having  not read the back label or done any research on this wine prior to tasting, I was surprised at how close our descriptions came. From my notes:

Light to medium tannins. Fruit, spice [all-spice/cloves], eucalyptus and wood [oak] on the nose. On the palate; peppery, spicy, fruit forward [berry/plum] but not jammy, fruity finish more woody as it opened.

The Four Vines OVC  turned out to be a tasty wine we paired with leftover pot-roast. I do not believe anyone would guess I only paid $7-$8 for this wine. And quite honestly I would do it again. Even better I now have a low price good quality old vine Zinfandel to recommend to my customers and friends. ¡SALUD!

K&L Wine Merchants:

Four Vines’ “Old Vine Cuvée” is a multi-appellation Zinfandel blend assembled from fruit leftover from their other Zin productions. In this bottling, Four Vines aims to produce a consistenty generous, fruity and easy-drinking Zin, styled for immediate drinking pleasure. With layers of juicy blackberry and black plum aromas with hints of licorice and smokey spice in the nose, it’s hard not to resist! The palate is rich and velvety, with toasty oak and baking spice accenting the finish. This is fun, no-holds-barred Zinfandel and priced to party.

Pete’s Wine Shop:

Four Vines has such a great wealth of Zinfandel that they have the ability to put together a fantastic multi-appellation Zinfandel Blend. On the nose the wine has layers of berry fruit and anise aromas with hints of spice. On the palate, blackberry and spicy plum fruit with a rich mouth feel trailing to a velvety toasted oak finish. The fruit comes from Sonoma, Paso Robles, Amador, Lodi and Mendocino Counties.Related articles

Related articles:

My Zin-ful Weekend – Old Vine Zinfandel that is..

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My weekend of Zin….

I must confess. It wasn’t planned and I had no control over it. Well, almost no control,  I guess I could have said no but since it was mostly my idea and I was hosting; I must enter my plea as; guilty.

My weekend was Zin-ful, full of Zin everywhere I turned. Zin Zin Zin. It was innocent enough when it started Friday after work over pizza. Ending Sunday night surrounded by friends over artesian cheeses [thank you Winn Dixie Cheese Steward!] and my lamb chili in what now has become known as BYO-Zin night.

As most of these unplanned social get togethers go the fourth or so wine is always a little difficult to recall but I did my best at keeping notes on as many of the wines as possible.

Starting the weekend off was the Project Paso 2009 Paso Robles Old Vine Zinfandel a new discovery for me and one I enjoyed so much I have shared it with friends and customers ever since. This wine is produced by Don Sebastiani and Sons who are known for producing accessibly priced quality wines:

The search for the class grapes led our grandfather to Sam Balakian in Paso Robles 30 years ago. Since then, we have been quietly blending Paso Robles juice to add depth, spice and complexity to our California appellation wines. What started out as a small project has now come to fruition. To pay homage to all the work our families have done over the past three decades, we felt it only proper to keep the name “Project Paso.”

Winemaker NotesThere is a vast complexity of flavors and aromas in this wine, driven by the unique Paso Robles soils and the blend of three Zinfandel vineyards. The nose opens up with dried fruit and concentrated blueberry aromas, with white pepper, warm Indian spices, and a touch of gaminess rounding out the background. This wine is similarly complex on the palate, with chocolate-covered cherry flavors balanced by old vine spice and a hint of sweet cigar. Earthy, medium-bodied, with a touch of minerality, this varietally correct Zinfandel gets its depth from Paso’s red soils.

My notes for Project Paso 2009 Paso Robles Old Vine Zinfandel:

Lingering full legs on the glass, dark fruit forward even jammy on the nose with prune, raisin and black cherry. Medium body with medium to light tannins. Very berry on the palate with a dark drier finish softening nicely as it opens.  Comments from guests; Classic Zin, vanilla taste, sugared plum scent, tasted dried fruits and a bit of chocolate, very earthy, lovely red color,  not too strong, not too weak..just right.

I usually see the Project Paso priced in the $14.99 range but recently as low as $11.99. Even lower on-line where it is attainable in the $10.00 range. At the lower price points [$10-$12] this is a BUY selection for me.

ST. Amant Mohr Fry Ranch 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi Appellation.

Next up: A discovery at one of our Total Wine & More classes last year that I was somehow able to cellar this long.  We were blown away by this powerful and intense Zinfandel at that time and I can see why.  In comparison to the other Zinfandels we sampled it is the NEW WORLD style of wine winner; very flavorful as all the others were but bolder. This one made the others seem as light as a Pinot Noir. Priced at $19.99 here is information provided by Total Wine & More:

Lodi, CA- In the heart of the Lodi Appellation. A classic Old Vine Zin – big, ripe, and chewy with rich raspberry and spicy blackberry flavors finishing with soft supple tannins. From the Mohr-Fry Ranch vineyard with 66+ year old vines. Certified green sustainable winegrowing vineyard.

My notes for the ST. Amant Mohr Fry Ranch 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel:

Dark and rich in color. Raisin, plum and prune on the nose with some wood [oak, cedar?].  Also, tobacco, violet/licorice and sweet fruit smell noted. In addition; blackberry and cocoa were detected on the palate.

This wine would be a worthy repeat offender for when I am again feeling Zin-ful and a good example of how different same varietal wines can be. This is a strong, bold, powerful, chewy wine.  In a good way of course 🙂

Predator 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi Appellation

I was first introduced to this consistently good wine, also from Lodi, a couple of years ago by close friends.  In fact, friends in attendance at the BYO-Zinfandel social mentioned earlier.  Same friends who had me buy them three cases recently when I came across Predator at our local Fresh Market store.  As per the manager; I made his day! as I loaded my shopping cart with 36+ bottles.

Produced by Rutherford Wine Company the 2011 vintage was recently awarded the Silver Medals in the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition and I love the fact that they use lady bugs as a natural method of removing insects harmful to the vines.

Winemaker notes:

Predator Zinfandel is sourced from 50+year old vines that produce rich and intensely flavored fruit. The resulting wine is big and bold with hallmark “old vine” velvety texture, spice and vibrant varietal flavors.  The lady bug is a natural predator that feeds on insects harmful to plants.  “Natural predation” is just one of the many sustainable vineyard practices that eliminates the need for synthetic pesticides.

My notes:

Medium garnet in color, Pinot Noir like in body. No legs to speak of at first, surprising because of the +14% alcohol level, but developing somehow soon afterwards.  Sugar cured ham on the nose! I am not crazy or alone. Others report it to be bacon. Also noted was a spicy orange peel that may also have to do with the ham, leather, cocoa, casis, and a moist aroma I would describe as wet earth or possibly mushrooms. Light tannins with an acidic finish that was balanced out nicely by food and time as wine was decanted.

Quite the night was had by all and quite the Zin-filled weekend for me. Officially five Old Vine Zinfandels were recorded [I still have the bottles!] and I have written about three here. The other two were;

Adventurous Macchia 2009 Amador County Zinfandel Linsteadt Vineyard available at Total Wine and the 2009 Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel

Although quite varied all were representative of the Zinfandel varietal and are very worthy of a repeat performance at the next POP UP BYO-Zin party but with better note taking practices required!!  That said I am already wondering what the next BYO varietal theme should be…..

¡SALUD!

From Wine-Searcher:

Zinfandel (or ‘Zin’as it is affectionately known in its American homelands) is a dark-skinned red wine grape variety widely cultivated in California. It arrived in the Americas from Europe in the early years of the 19th century, and was an immediate success in its Napa and Sonoma strongholds. It wasn’t until DNA research was carried out in California in the 1990s that the variety was confirmed (as had long been suspected) to be Italy’s Primitivo under a different name, or Crljenak Kastelanski, originally from Croatia’s Adriatic coast.