2007 Brazin Zin scores double gold at California State Fair

January 30, 2012

There’s quite a bit of ground to cover, so let’s get cracking. A well-written Greg Dal Paz article in Snooth prompted me to look into Zinfandel this week, and to tell the truth, that search takes little prompting. The food of my Italian taste bud side pairs nicely with Zin. The article spoke to 10 selections. Space limitations here mandate three. The only one which was written of in Snooth I usually have is Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Zin. When I began writing about wine, Barbara and I visited Dry Creek, and the folks were genuinely hospitable to Barbara, who was about five months pregnant with Marguerite. More important, they make a very lovely selection of fairly priced wine. You can get a complete read here:

The recent release of Dry Creek Heritage (formerly named Heritage clone) Zinfandel 2009 is a deep ruby color. It opens to aromas of raspberry and berry jam, typical of the region’s Zins. A sip, swirl and gargle releases blackberry, anise and pepper, and the barrel aging adds some cedar notes. Finely balanced and ready to drink, a little shelf time will see improvement. Say 88 points and you can buy it under $180/case. Nice house wine for the pizza, burger, pasta set.

When people say Zin, I think Ridge because they produce a wide-ranging selection of Zinfandels that appeal to most tastes at reasonable prices. Lytton Springs, York Creek, East Bench, Paso Robles, Pagani Ranch, Three Valleys and Ponzo are all labels produced by Ridge Vineyards.

As you are aware, I am opposed to the “make it single vineyard and raise the price” producers. Ridge is not of that ilk. Long before that shoddy practice was in vogue, Ridge was producing wonderful terroir-driven wine at reasonable prices. They still are. Most are priced in the low 20s.

My favorite in most vintages is the Lytton Springs profile. You can find the 2006, which is ready to drink and was rated 92-93, priced under $340/case. A dark ruby but no longer black, it still opens to bright red fruit and rose petal aromas. On the palate is a complex mix of cassis, raspberry, graphite, licorice and a cleansing minerality. The whole is riding a pleasing fruit/tannin/acid balance. The finish is long, ripe and jammy. Ready now and will improve at least two or three years and drink well through 2018. Although the entire 2009 Ridge lineup is a blockbuster, with several I tasted on release in the 94-point range, people are asking $20 for halves on the Geyserville. Hold fire on the 2009. It is nowhere near ready and currently is suffering the Parker-Spectator effect.

Best for last, Brazin Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel is the pluperfect example of terroir-driven wine. The 2008 was rated 86-88 points by most on release. The 2007 scored 98 and a double gold at the 2009 Cali State Fair. It was also voted best of class. By the time that happened, there was none available. The insiders had scarfed up the entire production for $16 a bottle. Get on their list by going to Then sit tight. Sue Hoffman is the winemaker and a name to watch for the “Zinful.” The 2009 season had rain in October prompting 88 points, but the 2010 may be comparable to 2007 or 2006 when they won their first gold at a San Fran tasting.

If you want outstanding wine, get on their list then wait for a good vintage. BTW, most snobby writers won’t give Zin much over 94 points, so relatively speaking, 88 points ain’t nuttin’ to sneeze at. Try to find some of the 2009. This will be difficult to locate, so give your wine store pals some time and expect to pay premium price for the opportunity.