Archive for ‘Zinfandel’

March 27, 2018

Ridge East Bench Zinfandel, 2012

From the cellar: Who cellars Zin?  Not too many.  And as for Ridge, why even post another Ridge review?  Is there a bad bottle or two of Ridge, somewhere out in the universe?  A bad vintage?  A mistake in Monte Bello?

 

For no good reason we have a few of the LS lying in wait and pulled one out on the weekend.  It was, as predicted, floral, elegant, enticing, a pronounced oak, deeply aromatic, dried herbs with spring blossoms on the palate, and of course ridiculously delectable.  It drank like velvet which, to be fair, is not to everyone’s taste, that silky, smooth, flan-like texture.

 

In 2014 we went ga-ga over this vintage.  I don’t think this had to age and I can’t unequivocally say it improved substantially when you think of the four years on the lie down, but it didn’t disappoint and won our hearts from the first sip.

 

Price: $28 USD in 2014.

 

Market Liquidity: Like Ricky Jay doing sleight of hand: How does Ridge do it?

August 19, 2014

Ridge East Bench Zinfandel, 2012

171Screw methadone. We have found our drug of choice. It’s not on Schedule I. It’s not on Schedule II. But it damn well could be. We haven’t found a wine this interesting, luxurious or addictive since the Woodward Canyon a year or so ago.

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Although I haven’t tried the BulletProof diet, where strong coffee and butter are blended for a morning beverage, this Zin from Ridge has a buttery palate that is creamy, rich, and ridiculously likable: It might as well be butter blended into wine. Huge, piercing fruit notes that are astonishingly smooth and velvety. An absolute stunning tribute to what a Zin can be—and line it up next to the myriad metallic bombs that line the government store shelves for some real competitive taste testing. There isn’t a CA red in the BC Liquor Control Board stock that could draw a straw against this. Plus, it’s not an overpowering 16 per cent alcohol.

 

You can find raves on any old Google search. I like the words pure, opulent and transparent which I’ve seen elsewhere. But Goggle will help you find more “winey” descriptions if you don’t trust the fireworks reference. Suffice to say this is a knock-your-socks off good red, a mouth watering sipper, a superb meat accompaniment, and a shocking under $30 at the vineyard. If we could, I’d nominate it for a Tony, an Emmy, a Grammy and an Oscar. But we can’t. All we can do is bring it back into Canada, one bottle at a time, as our duty free allotment, and bemoan the high tax crapshoot that is the BC wine landscape.

 

You cannot live by bread alone.  Even really good home-made bread.

You cannot live by bread alone. Even really good home-made bread.

Price: $28 at the vineyard, and similar in the Pacific NW.  Here in BC, if you can find it, over $50.

 

Market Liquidity: EGOT: Ridge hits another home-run.

October 31, 2012

Dashe Zinfandel, 2009

Good.  If this wine was an athlete it would have potential.

 

We cooked up a Zinfandel pot roast (roast roasted three hours in Zinfandel, onion, celery, tomatoes, garlic, porcini mushrooms, marjoram) with some new potatoes and served a bottle of Dashe Dry Creek Zin as a go-with.  In advance of dinner it was soft, approachable and I’m sure a crowd-pleaser, but it paled with dinner, oddly, and sipped without finesse.

 

We noticed, most prominently, vanilla, followed by the chocolate (the label stated chocolate as prominent).  But if you bake you will know that not all vanilla’s are equal.  Mexican vanilla maintains integrity if slow baked in a mud cake whereas Tahitian vanilla should be added to a pudding or dish that has already cooked as it would fade on a long bake.  Vanillas have degrees of prominence and depth as do flavours in wine and for this bottle we felt the vanilla was gentle and delectable and with a fine finish, but not a heavyweight, and a tad shy of holding up to a strong meat main.

 

Price: $21 USD, not available in BC.

 

Market Liquidity: A good stand-in.

October 3, 2012

Four Vines Maverick Zinfandel, Amador County, 2010

When wine reviewers write that Zin is “jammy” this is pretty much what they mean.  This is a jam pot at the B&B breakfast table.  Archetypal Zin and very, very easy to drink.  Has a berry, plum and vanilla nose and on the palate ends with a modest peppery bite and a zesty alcoholic  knock.  Fruit forward and luscious but a little short on the finish.

 

We sipped it, and loved it.  Then we served it with Italian sausage risotto, as per the photo, and it couldn’t match the depth of flavour, it paled.  We needed a boisterous Malbec, not a fruity Zin.  But the second night we served it with homemade chicken meatballs and it was divine.  If you have guests who want a pre-dinner red and don’t like the vogue for light pinot-ish stuff, than this is a perfect pick.

 

Price: $19 USD, couldn’t source in BC.

 

Market Liquidity: You won’t need to save the cork.

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August 13, 2012

Marietta Sonoma County Zinfandel, 2010

Blackberry, chocolate and a tangy peppery bite that in an odd way could be described as crisp.  Not as “gentle” or forward and approachable as umpteen Califonia Zins.

 

With food it drank much better than a sipper.  On one night we had it with hamburgers and it was OK, not brilliant.  We had the rest the next night with a simple peasant dish (spicy Italian sausages, leftover ciabatta cubed, sliced fingerling potatoes, rosemary stalks, a little paprika, all tossed in some olive oil, baked for 45 minutes), with fresh vegetables.  It came alive with a strong, spicy meat as if adolescent to adult; it was like the flip side of Ruby Tuesday (which was, for those too young to remember 45s, Let’s Spend the Night Together, faster, louder, and much more “Stones” than the Beatle-ish RT).  Had a nice finish, plum, berry, vanilla and creme de cassis.

 

We liked the Marietta, but we didn’t love it.  At the US price, under $20, an exceptional value.  NB: Been around since 1974 but not listed in Hugh Johnson’s pocket wine guide; pity.

 

Price: $19.99 USD in WA, not available in BC.

 

Market Liquidity: Take that Ravenswood!

August 2, 2012

Ridge California Sonoma County Three Valleys, 2008

From the cellar: A beautiful red, a beauty of beauties.  A blend of primarily Zin rounded out with a hodgepodge of other grapes (four per cent Mataro?) which results in just shockingly good balance and scrumptious, forward fruit.  A slight piquancy keeps the cherry cola notes from overpowering and becoming cloying and sweet.  My god do they turn out some fine wines down at Ridge.  Someone knows what they are doing and is doing it very well; and to think this is just one of their more “average” bottles.  You could sip this all night without a nosh and be nothing but satisfied but we did end up serving it with a dry aged NY strip, BBQ, no adornment, and the Three Valleys was just shy of being up to the challenge.  Belmont and Preakness yes, no Derby.

 

The label claimed it was ready from the get go upon the 09 release; I picked up this specimen at Pete’s in Seattle on holiday in early 2010 and sat on it for nearly a year and a half.  It opened up beautifully and without an ounce of disappointment.  Shockingly good value in the US but, alas, Ridge in BC is rare, pricey and difficult to justify the after tax expense.  So, like a week in Hawaii in the dead of winter, it was an isolated indulgence.

 

Price: $19.30 USD at Pete’s in Seattle in 2010.

 

Market Liquidity: Semi-precious gem.

July 25, 2012

Rutherford Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel, 2009

A lovely Napa red.  Alcoholic on the nose, even with air, sharp on the tongue, but luscious fruit and burnt coffee flavours with a long and appealing cherry finish.  Smooth—not a glossy smooth Zin, but no potholes either.  It sipped better than with food we thought; with dinner it was quite peppery with a finish of vanilla but still wonderfully palatable.

 

OK, that’s the good news.  On the flip side however, although, unfortunately, it must be said: 15.5 per cent alcohol.  Jesus, Joseph, Mary and the Apostles.  You will rise from the dead, hallelujah, but oh how your head will hurt.  At that percentage point I’d rather be drinking sherry

 

Price: $16.99 USD; not available in BC but Legacy has the chardonnay for $25.

 

Market Liquidity: Beautiful (for those who can tolerate the hit).

February 20, 2012

Ridge California Sonoma County Three Valleys, 2009

For Valentine’s we had some exceptional grass fed rare filet mignon with David Rocco’s baked potatoes, squash on the side, green salad and a bottle of Ridge.  Were you expecting a bad review?  Not on my watch…

 

Even for a nobody in the wine world I know enough that disparaging Ridge is sacrilegious.  I’ve been told the wine mafia puts a hit out. [insert joke emoticon]

 

So: Three Valleys.  Truthfully, it’s not the best bottle you can get from Ridge.  But while it’s not their finest hour it’s good.  Damn good.  Has the qualities of a good zin and very smooth on the palate but not as “steep” or awe-inspiring as some of Ridge’s heavier hitters.  Fruit and oak but not overkill, easy tannins.  No majestic cab sauv but still, it stood up to our steaks with panache.  Another glass please.

 

Price: Gifted.  Couldn’t source in BC as a reference, saw it in Washington for $24 but apparently can be obtained in the US for as little as $16 which, frankly, would make it a phenomenal must have buy.  Ridge in BC is rarely under $40.

 

Market Liquidity: When the Occupy movement moves to Ridge count me in.

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November 15, 2011

Teira 2005 Sonoma Zinfandel

Scored a bottle of Teira 2005 Sonoma Zinfandel on sale at BC Liquor.  Which is to say, stumbled across the sale sign in the California wine section, saw that all the wine was sold out, then saw one last bottle on a different rack mis-shelved with another blend.  Which is also to say that you never know what’s on sale at the government liquor store.  Unlike, say, Kitsilano and Everything Wine, which regularly run print ads, and unlike Marquis which has weekly specials and an electronic newsletter, and unlike just about every other business in the world capitalist system that lets customers know about sales and discounts and offers, BC Liquor is too—what? faux-ethical? nanny-ish? self-absorbed? old-school? out-of-touch?, all of the above to really understand that the billions they make in profit each year (yes, that’s right, billions) come from customers.  Sales come and go, you stumble across them in individual stores, if you’re lucky.  Of course BCL will advertise widely telling you how important it is to support their stores, what an integral piece of the provincial economy they are, and how many people they employ, bla bla bla, but customer service?  Not on their radar.

 

OK, rant aside, this was a great find.  Retails for around $33 at Everything Wine and when it was at BCL was $28, so scoring it at $24 was vino-tacular.

 

Tasty?  Oh God was this easy to drink.  Unlike the Spanish reds we had last week this was the sort of wine you could spend hours at a party wandering around enjoying on its own, with snacks or food or, yes, just more on its own.  This is a no food required red.

 

Oak, vanilla, currant, maraschino cherry juice.  Just the right amount of “red wine bite.”  Sits on the palate perfectly, begging to be enjoyed.

 

Price: Gone from BCL.  But on sale was $24, reg $28.

 

Market Liquidity: Sip heaven.