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April 10, 2000 • Le Provence Club Room

Zinfandel is California's indigenous vinifera grape, our red pride, our faithful barbecue companion. Most PfW members agree that this is a varietal to be appreciated in its youth, since voluptuous fruit often helps to balance and mask the frequent higher alcohol levels of this wine. So we eliminated the possibility of helping clear anyone's cellar of those old, dried-out, hot, tannic zin remnants and tasted some fairly recent examples with Diana's grilled sausages and salad.

Vintage & Varietal or Type
Appellation -$ price
Consensus Tasting Notes
Buying Advice

1998 Zinfandel
Dry Creek Valley -$21.

Medium-dark purple; intense, bright, jammy, sweet, blackberry, and strawberry fruit aromas, faintly tarry with hints of black pepper and spice; pleasant entry, big, jammy-toasty fruit flavors; light to medium body with some richness; nicely balanced, easy-drinking with soft tannins. (made at Rosenblum Winery)

Very Highly

Rancho Zabaco
1997 Zinfandel
Dry Creek Valley -$14.

Medium dark garnet; very appealing raspberry fruit and lavender aroma with sweet oak, vanilla, orange peel, maple, licorice and white pepper hints; flavors similar with strong brandy, prune, or orange peel elements; medium body, smooth, slightly rich; balanced tannins; slightly cedary element and heat in finish.

Very Highly

1997 Zinfandel
"Sonoma Station"
Sonoma $16.

Medium dark, youthful violet tones; very intense blackberry with hints of brambly-dusty cassis, caramel, cheese and terpine; pleasing fruit flavors with some drying oak, smoke; balanced, slightly tart; tannic, lingering finish with lots of berry. (a blend of 75% Zinfandel, 13% Carignan, 8% Petite Sirah, 4% Alicante Bouschet)

Very Highly

Brown Estate
1997 Zinfandel
Napa Valley -$17.

Medium to dark ruby; very jammy, blackberry, cassis or raisiny, faintly spicy (clove), minty with a whisper of ethyl acetate, vanillin, or varnish; sweet entry, very big flavors similar to nose; portish balance, with some residual sugar; quite tannic; long, slightly drying finish.


1996 Zinfandel
Mendocino -$17.

Medium garnet; red berry, cherry, jammy fruit aromas with hints of cocoa powder, menthol, black pepper, violets, citrus, soap, leather, smoke and tar; nice entry, very big red raspberry flavors with more fruit than oak; good structure, very balanced; long finish with some heat.


1998 Zinfandel
"Sonoma Station"
Sonoma - $16.

Very deep violet; attractive, blackberry, blueberry, lavender, violet, slightly cedary-oaky aromas, with spicy, clove, menthol, or eucalyptus notes; fruity, slightly dusty-oaky flavors; medium body; tart balance; somewhat harsh, big tannins; short, dry, slightly coarse, tannic finish. (a blend of 75% Zinfandel, 11% Carignan, 9% Alicante Bouschet, 5% Petite Sirah)


Rocking Horse
1997 Zinfandel
"Fat Lady Sings"
Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
"Lamborn" -$20.

Medium violet, inky; muted, elegant, blueberry and citrus aromas with some jamminess, faint stemminess and black pepper; green, lean, underripe, immature flavors; light body, thin; slightly harsh tannins; slightly hot finish.


1995 Zinfandel
Sonoma County -$20.

Medium garnet; high alcohol, dried berry, dusty, earthy, brambly, faint band-aid, coffee, charcoal; pleasant entry, extracted cherry fruit flavors, faintly medicinal middle; slightly tart balance; drying, softly tannic finish.


(nv) Zinfandel
Paso Robles -$13.

Light to medium garnet; very high alcohol and extracted, jammy, citrussy, vanillin, menthol, cedary-cinnamon aromas with ethyl acetate; big, youthful flavors; balance is slightly tart; hot finish.


Peirano Estate
1995 Zinfandel
Lodi -$10.

Light to medium garnet; briny, brambly, musty-funky, dill (American oak?), basil, green pea, soy sauce, stemmy aromas; flavors dominated by green, dill-oaky component over blueberries; medium body, well-balanced, some richness; flabby, very soft tannins, slightly bitter finish.


Panel included Mark, Deanna, Glenn, Diana, Roy,
Marlene, Jon, Jim, Greg, and James
About Zinfandel




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