Holiday Zinfandels

As mentioned before, Jackie and I are admitted zinfandel fanatics.  I call her my “Zin Girl”.  We first visited wine country in California in 2004 as we landed at the “Wine and Food Affair” event hosted by the Wine Road.  On that trip we hit Bella Wine Caves, Mauritson, Wilson Winery, and Ridge in Dry Creek Valley, Stryker Sonoma in Alexander Valley, and Martinelli in the Russian River.  We have belonged to the wine clubs at most of these wineries since.  On subsequent trips we have visited and added Bedrock, Biale, Carlisle, Mazzocco, and Turley to our wine club/waiting list status so we probably buy and drink more zin than any other grape.

Some of our favorite wines we drank this Holiday Season include:

2009 Mazzocco Seaton Vineyard – Part of our Fall Cellar Club shipment, a real crowd pleaser.  A medium to full bodied zin with aromas of plum, cherry, and spice.  Soft on the palate with rich, brambly flavors of red and black cherry and baking spice. 

2009 Mazzocco Pony Vineyard – Fall Cellar Club shipment, always one of our favorite Mazzocco wines.  A full bodied zin with aromas of black cherry, black pepper, and spice.  Rich, robust flavors of black fruits and spice that linger on the palate. 

2009 Mazzocco Smith Orchard Reserve – Also a Fall Club wine.  Like all the Mazzocco Reserve zins, this wine is more polished than the Pony and Seaton.  Aromas of red fruit and cinnamon.  Simply delicious on the palate.  We drank this with the turkey at Christmas dinner. The Smith Orchard is always one of our go to zins from California.  We just love the portfolio from Mazzocco.

2009 Stryker Sonoma Oz – Each vintage this wine is all about red licorice.  The 2009 does not disappoint.  A little heat at the beginning which blew off with a little time.  This is one of the best QPR zins from California.  Great taste for the price.  Need to get more.

2008 Stryker Sonoma Estate Old Vine –  Decanted for two hours before tasting.  This got better through the evening.  Aromas of red and black fruit with a touch of spice.  On the palate this wine lasts and lasts.  Red and black fruit with licorice and a touch of black pepper.

2009 Wilson Winery Sawyer  – This wine was the Sweepstakes Winner at the 2011 Sonoma County Harvest Fair.  Couldn’t wait to try.  Decanted for two hours, then served along side a slow cooked pork loin.  Delicious flavors of dark cherry and blackberry, along with chocolate and vanilla. Rich and full bodied the finish on this wine lingers on and on.  

2009 Mauritson Dry Creek Valley – Drank this along side a pot of 15 bean ham and bean soup.  Popped and drank.  A little tight at first but prominent flavors of dark cherry, blueberry, and black cherry.  Very smooth and soft on the palate.  Great QPR zin.

2009 Arista Winery Smokey Ridge Vineyard – We love the Arista pinots and also pick up a few zins when visiting the winery.  Decanted for two hours.  Dark fruits including blackberry and boysenberry, along with chocolate and smokey espresso.  Outstanding.

2008 Martinelli Vigneto di Evo – Decanted for one hour.  Flavors of red and black fruits and brown sugar.  As with all Martinelli zins, I always get a strong taste of kirsch and licorice.  And this is the lowest cost zin in the Martinelli lineup.

2006 Bella Lilly Hill Estate – Lilly Hill is always one of the best Bella Winery zins.  Dark fruits including blackberry and black cherry with abundant black pepper.  Really opened up over the evening.  Last of my 06 Lilly Hills.


Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Tasting Notes

Had a chance to get the bourbon buddies together a couple of times over the Holidays to do a little tasting.  A month ago I had the chance to purchase four bottles of the 2011 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection whiskeys from my favorite local store, Metcalf Discount Liquor.  I had purchased a bottle of the 2010 William Larue Weller earlier this year and saved it to do a little side by side with the 2011 version.We performed the tasting by starting with the Eagle Rare 17 and finishing with Continue reading

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

In my pursuit of fine bourbons I have spent some time reading some of the blogs dedicated to bourbon whiskey. Last Thanksgiving I saw the Antique Collection in stores and purchased a bottle of the 2010 William Larue Weller.  I had not opened the bottle but recently sampled a bit to see what all the fuss was about.  I will be posting notes from several tasting sessions in this blog soon.  I liked the whiskey so much I purchased four of this years Antique Collection (William Larue Weller, George T. Stagg, Eagle Rare, and the Sazerac Rye).  I will be inviting over my boubon buddies for a tasting session soon and will post the results.

A few Pinots – Calera, Merry Edwards, & Kosta Browne

We had a few pinots over the Thanksgiving weekend. 

2007 Merry Edwards Olivet Lane in magnum – This served as our party bottle that we served before Thanksgiving dinner.  Decanted in two stages over the course of two hours.  Still pretty tight when we first started.  Nose had a little pinot funk of sticks and dirt.  Medium bodied with plums and red fruit and a little baking spice on the backside.  Delicious pinot.  Always great to have a magnum on hand when the wine is this good.

2009 Calera Central Coast – Opened this and the Kosta Browne with blackened salmon later in the weekend.  Popped and poured. I had this once before and enjoyed it.  Medium bodied, dark pinot fruit, ton of spice.  This was really good and a great value.  Really set the stage for the salmon.

2006 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast – Opened this in honor of the #1 wine on the Wine Spectator list.  Decanted for 2 hours.  Very little on the nose when first opened but really opened up after the decant.  Aromatics jumped out of the glass.  This was definitely a wow wine.  If the 09 turns out this good then it deserves #1.  Great pinot fruit, bright flavors of plum, cherry, and spice.  Paired great with the salmon.

Cab Tasting Notes – Justin, Sojourn, Conn Valley, Chateau Montelena

A few cabs from the Thanksgiving weekend.  Opened two on Thanksgiving Day to serve with prime rib roast.

2005 Justin Isosoles – Decanted for several hours. Great fruit, nice mix of red and black.  Almost has a mineral, stony flavor.  Really matches well with the prime rib.

2005 Sojourn Home Ranch – Bought three of these the first time I met Craig at the old crush facility in Santa Rosa.  Tried a bottle a couple years ago with mixed results.  This time this one really sings.  It’s amazing that this wine, made with grapes planted just a few years earlier, has developed into a beautiful Sonoma cab.  Can’t wait to try subsequent vintages of Home Ranch in the future.

Then several more on Saturday with friends.

2006 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley – Decanted for 1 hour.  This wine never really opened up.  Muted plum fruits with a distinct herbal backbone.  Need to give this wine a few more years in the cellar.

2000 Conn Valley Napa Valley Cabernet – Popped and poured.  Tasted over the course of the evening.  Sweet plum and cassis flavors are prevalent.  Fruit became less pronounced and the wine seemed to loose steam as the evening wore on. 

1993 Conn Valley Napa Valley Cabernet – Decanted for an hour.  After opening the 2000 we were real interested in tasting an even older vintage.  What a difference.  This wine had plenty of stuffing left and possessed those classic mature Napa cab flavors.  This wine was a treat.  Kept going back for a little more all evening.

Thanksgiving Weekend Wines – Zinfandels

I am sure I will post a number of tasting notes on zinfandel here on Brewer Square.  Jackie and I belong to a number of zinfandel wine clubs and consider them our house wines.  The first club we joined was Stryker Sonoma and have added many more.  Our tastes lean from big and ripe to layered and complex.  The flavors that the current crop of winemakers in California achieve have elevated the grape to new status.  Enough of my babble, on to the weekend wines:

2007 Turley Old Vines – Popped and poured, initial flavors of jam and black fruits with a touch of heat.  By the second glass the wine opened up and the heat blew off.  Not as complex as some of the single vineyard Turley’s but mighty tasty.  Good way to start the weekend.

2007 Biale Monte Rosso – Decanted for an hour.  Blackberry, brambles and spice.  Biale makes some of our favorite zins and this Monte Rosso is one of my favorites.  Glad I have a few more in the cellar.

2006 Carlisle Pietro’s Ranch – Big fan of Carlisle wines.  Met Mike Officer five years ago and have been buying off his list ever since.  Decanted for two hours.  Dark fruits and peppery spice.  Not as big as some of Mike’s zins, more subtle and layered.

2008 Martinelli Vellutini Ranch – Also big fans of Martinelli wines.  Love the Jackass Hill and vineyard wines but had not tried this one yet.  I understand the Vellutini vineyard is adjacent to both Jackass vineyards and was planted with bud wood from Jackass Hill.  Gave this a three hour decant.  Wow is this good.  Lots of that Martinelli kirsch with red fruits and spice.  Look forward to trying this one again.


Pappy Van Winkle


2010 Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old bourbon.  Tasted tonight.  Aroma’s of carmel corn and burnt toast.  Initial flavors of pepper, carmel and butterscotch.  Very soft mouth feel.  Poured over ice and became cloudy with time.  Absolutely stunning.  A big WOW!!