$20 Above: Carlisle Montafi Ranch Zinfandel 2009

Carlisle Montafi Ranch Zinfandel 2009

Date Tasted: 11/23/12

Price: Suggested Retail is $45.00 (purchased for $43.00)

From The Winery: 15.3% alcohol. 88% Zinfandel, 12% intermixed varietals (Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Petite Sirah, Peloursin, Petite Bouschet, Bastardo). Russian River Valley AVA. 527 cases produced.

Impressions/Notes: I’ve been on Carlisle Winery and Vineyard’s mailing list for over a year now and am patiently waiting for the day that I get the nod (that day probably won’t be anytime soon). Fortunately for those of us that have not cracked the list, a small portion of Carlisle’s wine is allotted to retailers. I nabbed a bottle of Carlisle’s 2009 Montafi Ranch Zinfandel at the most unlikely of places (more to come on this story in the coming weeks). Holy Zin! Medium-dark purple in color, the Montafi Ranch presented with some very pure and precise aromas of plum, black currant, dark chocolate, baking spice, and vanilla. As rich as the nose is, the palate surprised a bit with slightly tart blue and black fruits. The biggest shocker is the balance, generous acidity, and lack of heat present despite the 15.3% alcohol content. This is a very special Zin–one of the top few that I’ve ever tasted–that is meant to be savored.

Rating: Highly Recommended/Stellar (92-96), 4/5 Value 


Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Zinfandel 4 Comments

$20 Above: Turley California Zinfandel Old Vines 2010

Turley California Zinfandel Old Vines 2010

Date Tasted: 10/27/12

Price: Suggested Retail is ?? (Purchased for $28.00)

From The Winery: 15.5% alcohol. Fruit sources- Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Amador County, Lodi, and Mendocino.

Impressions/Notes: To this wine geek’s chagrin, there isn’t much information out there on this wine. The Turley name is so well-known that a fancy website is surely at the very bottom of their list of concerns. The 2010 Turley Old Vines Zinfandel presents with a deep purple color and features BIG aromas of dark chocolate, pure cherry, and leather. I particularly enjoyed the components of earth and sage that were somewhat hidden in the background. This wine has a really nice weight and mouthfeel, with chalky tannins, moderate heat, and a pleasant vanilla/fruit aftertaste. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–I’m always amazed when a winemaker can blend grapes together from multiple AVAs and make a seamless, focused wine as Turley has with their 2010 Old Vines Zin. I was unable to determine the suggested retail price of this wine, but it was a very good deal at $28.00.

Rating: Recommended/Highly Recommended (88-91), 3.5/5 Value (based on purchase price)

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Zinfandel 6 Comments

$20 Above: Ridge Lytton Springs 2009

Ridge Lytton Springs 2009

Date Tasted: 9/3/12

Price: Suggested Retail is $35.00 (Purchased for $30.00)

From The Winery: 14.5% alcohol, 71% Zinfandel/23% Petite Sirah/6% Carignane. Ridge has made the Lytton Springs as a single-site zinfandel in every year since 1972. Vineyard Location is in the bench and hills separating the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys, just north of Healdsburg, California.

Impressions/Notes: I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the last unofficial day of summer than by drinking a Zinfandel–not just any Zin mind you, but a Ridge Vineyards Zin. The 2009 Lytton Springs did not disappoint. It’s muscular, concentrated, and displays considerable depth. There’s a wide spectrum of aromas and flavors, with minerals, cassis, plum, cocoa powder, allspice, and a smidgeon of forest floor. The acidity is more than strong enough to balance out the 14.5% alcohol content–there’s only a small bit of heat on the throat–the tannins are dusty, and the finish is ultra-long. This wine should only improve with a bit of cellaring

Rating: Highly Recommended (90-94), 3.5/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Zinfandel 4 Comments

$20 Above: Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel 2009

Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County, 2009

Price: Suggested retail is $38.00 (purchased for $26.00)

Date Tasted: 8/10/2012

From The Winery: 15.0% alcohol, produced from vineyards in the Dry Creek and western Alexander valleys

Impressions/Notes: There are old vine Zinfandels and then there are really old vine Zinfandels. The vines used to provide the fruit for the 2009 Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel have an average age of nearly 90 years old. This wine exhibits a lot of classic Zinfandel characteristics–ripe blackberry, spice box, red cherry, and brown sugar aromas and flavors were abundant. There is also an interesting interplay of tar and a dusting of light roasted coffee beans in the mix, as well as a generous oak presence. Medium to full-bodied, this zin is very approachable from the get-go. Seghesio has yet another nice zin here and it’s history in a glass.

Rating: Recommended/Highly Recommended (88-92), 3/5 Value 

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Zinfandel 4 Comments

$20 Below: Plungerhead Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel, 2008

Plungerhead Old Vine Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, 2008

Price: Suggested retail is $15.00 (Purchased for $10.99)

From The Winery: 14.9% alcohol, 95% Zinfandel/2% Merlot/2% Cabernet Sauvignon/1% Malbec

Impressions/Notes: Notes of blackberry and briar, followed by toffee and the slightest hint of smoke. Ripe cranberry and cedar dominated in the mouth. Medium bodied with generous acidity and just a bit of heat on the finish. A solid zin for $10.00-$15.00.

Score: 17/20

Posted on by Nick in $20 Below, California, Zinfandel 5 Comments