January's wine tasting continued our trend of rich, high alcohol wines with the Zinfandel Battle. Bearing no resemblance to "White Zinfandel" bottlings, real (red) Zinfandels show hefty, dark, and forward flavors.
All the bottles in the Zinfandel Battle were worthy competitors, exhibiting varietally correct flavors, and none were disparaged as bad wines. Sarah's winning bottle was from a venerated producer of Zinfandel, and was the most balanced and refined wine of the night, easily winning first place. Kristin's second place showing was an amazing bargain at only $15.
First Place: Ridge Zinfandel Dusi Ranch 2003 (Paso Robles). Exhibiting aromas of black pepper, raisins, dust, cranberries, black currant and prunes. Full-bodied on the palate, and featuring raspberry and blueberry jam, along with vanilla, and a "kind of fishy" flavor (according to Ali). Sarah thought it was reminiscent of "Linzer torte". David commended it for having a "great texture all the way through", and for being "complete". This was well balanced, seamless, and long on finish. 14.8% alcohol. Received 34 points. Sarah's bottle. About $26.
Second Place: Cline Zinfandel Ancient Vines 2004 (California). The youngest wine of the night, and the only one from the broad California appellation, its nose was reminiscent of red fruits (raspberries), wood, sulfur, must, mushrooms and tobacco smoke. David said it "smells like a 2 x 4" when describing the wood component, while Andy believed it "smells like an old person's home". Tasting of blueberries, vanilla and licorice on the finish. David felt that the "finish was slightly disjointed", but otherwise good, and Sarah noted tastes of "black licorice that's been sitting out". In expected style, Ali said it "smells like a gratifying B.O." 15% alcohol. Received 21 points. Kristin's bottle. About $15.
Third Place: Dashe Zinfandel Todd Brothers Ranch 2002 (Alexander Valley). Smelled bright, with vegetables, and a musty-dusty-meaty quality. Kristin was reminded of "blueberries in the summer". Flavors of shitake mushrooms, black fruits, coffee and ink, with high acidity that was nearly tart. Sarah perceived a "metallic weird finish". 14.8% alcohol. Received 15 points. Stephen's bottle. About $25.
Seghesio Zinfandel Old Vine 2002 (Sonoma). Tasters found cherry, red licorice, cola, plums and dust on the nose, with a forward flavor profile of blackberries, blueberries and flowers. Ali detected "lavender on steroids", and of the finish she noted the "texture stays there, but not the flavor". Some strong tannins on a shorter finish. 15.6% alcohol. Received 10 points. David's bottle. About $30.
St. Francis Zinfandel Old Vine 2002 (Sonoma). Aromas of prunes, rotten fruit, wet wood, tomatoes, strawberries and iodine. Kristin just felt that it "stinks". Syrupy in body, and showing vanilla, plum, strawberry, and prune flavors. Kristin said that it "kind of gives me goosebumps". 15.5% alcohol. Received 3 points. Andy's bottle. About $21.
Redemption Zinfandel 2003 (Dry Creek). Visibly thinner in body, with a lighter color. Blueberries, cedar, vanilla, blackberries, and sulfur on the nose, as well as unbalanced alcohol. Higher in acidity, with raisins, wood, custard, and red fruits. Metallic finish, with lots of heat. 14.5% alcohol. Received 1 point. Ali's bottle. About $28.