Zin Challenge

This flight features 5 Zinfandel from 2001 to 2005 sourced from Napa and Paso Robles.

Eberle Paso Robles Zinfandel 2005
Like eating a sweet cherry pie, this wine combines rich fruit, glycerol and oak into a viscous delight.  Even with the high number, the alcohol is completely integrated at this point in time. This originates from the Steinbeck Vyd. 78% and the Wine-Bush Vyd. 22%. Aged in all US oak, 20% of which was new. P&B Paso Robles 16.2% $20 at the winery but has sold out Eberle

Balllentine Vineyards Napa Valley Old Vines Estate Grown Zinfandel 2001
The evolution and light oxidation add complexity to the still fresh berry fruit smells.  The wine has loads of tannin and some warmth. 2% Syrah, aged in barrel and puncheon for 14 months, 25% new US oak. P&B in Saint Helena by Van and Betty Ballentine 14.9% $18 for the current 2002 vintage at the winery Ballentine 

Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Estate Zinfandel 2004
This smells of jammy berries and some alcohol.  The palate is extremely fruity with structure to frame it – a no-slouch Zin here. GP&B in Calistoga 14.6% $22.49 at Bottle Barn Chateau Montelena

Grgich Hills Napa Valley Estate Grown Zinfandel 2004
Black pepper and alcohol fill the glass.  The mouth showed lots of tannin with excessive astringency. After 20 minutes though, the wine began to open and show more of its fruity side. 12% Petite Sirah co-fermented with the Zin, aged in large oak for 15 months, GP&B Rutherford 14.8% $23.99 at Bottle Barn Grgich Hills

Von Strasser Diamond Mountain District Monhoff Vineyard Zinfandel 2005
This wine has amazing sweet smells of chocolate and berries.  The flavors in the mouth follow with candied berries in a structured package – a sense of the mountain that doesn’t hide the fruit. Monhoff is the only commercial Zin vineyard on Diamond Mountain where the emphasis is generally on icon Cabernet production.  P&B in Calistoga 14.8% $34.99 at Bottle Barn Von Strasser

About Ray Johnson

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
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