Cheers January/February 2013

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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CHEERS WINE PANEL A Taste of Hearty Zinfandels F or this issue, we asked members of the Cheers National Wine Panel to recommend some of their favorite zinfandels. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine's retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you're a restaurant or retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Melissa Dowling at 203-849-8499 ext. 223, or email her at (95) Louis M. Martini, Monte Rosso Vineyard Gnarly Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). The Monte Rosso vineyard is one of the most storied in Sonoma County, with vines over 100 years old; the rich flavors and plush tannins are a testament to the quality of the fruit these vines provide. Large quantities of black fruit dominate the nose, with subtle hints of vanilla and spice; the wine is rich and dense on the palate, with a lingering balanced finish. ($50) (94) Terra d'Oro Deaver Vineyard Zinfandel 2009 (California). These 100-plus year-old vines produce an enormous and concentrated zinfandel; the heavy berry and cassis aromas are followed by a rich and savory explosion of fruit. This wine will take a couple of hours to open and start to release its fruit. ($29) (94) Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel 2010 (California). A rich, jammy nose that is the trademark of the Benito Dusi vineyard; on the palate there's a bright acidity and great balance with the dark fruit and white pepper. ($33) (94) Girard Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). The 2010 vintage is fuller-bodied than previous vintages; petite sirah helps present a dark ruby color; the aromas offer darkchocolate covered cherries, lush blueberries and ripe plums. Winter spices and underlying layers of mocha round out this powerful wine; tannins present a soft structure and are well integrated in the wine. ($32) (94) Ravenswood Belloni Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2009 (California). The old vines contribute exceptional depth of fruit, while maintaining elegance and polish; one-quarter mixed varieties such as petite sirah, carignane, and alicante add to the complexity and richness on the palate. The nose and palate share aspects of brambly black fruit; the 20 months of barrel aging add hints of spice, tobacco and coffee. ($35) (93) Brown Napa Valley Zinfandel 2010 (Calfornia). Flowery, spicy aroma; blackberry, cherry, cinnamon, cedar; large tannins; long finish. ($39) (93) Peter Franus Brandlin Vineyard Zinfandel 2008 (California). Incredible, small production wine from 85-yearold vines in Napa; deep ruby color with real structure that delivers all the blueberries, chocolate, pepper and cinnamon you would want from a top-notch zinfandel. ($35) (93) Graziano Redwood Valley Kazmet Vineyard Zinfandel 2009 (California). From 40-plus-year-old vines in one of Mendocino's prized zin properties, this is one of Greg Graziano's best wines. Well structured and complex with rich, spicy, black-fruit aromas and flavors balanced with firm tannins; nice now, and lots of potential for cellaring. ($27) (93) Saxon Brown Sonoma Casa Santinamaria Vineyard Zinfandel 2007 (California). Two years in French oak took none of the acidity out of this wine; well balanced throughout, bright fruit and beautiful purple color. ($30) (93) Brutocao Family Vineyards Hopland Ranches Mendocino Classic Zinfandel 2009 (California). Pretty deep-purple color, ripe red-cherry notes; fruity but full and dry; hints of mocha and toast; earthy notes and spice in the mid palate; smooth, generous tannins in this harmonized wine. ($21) (93) Sivas-Sonoma Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). Sourcing from the new hot spot for premium zins, the Russian River Valley, this is wine of restraint, with more natural acidity and freshness than its Dry Creek counterparts. Jammy black-raspberry fruit combines with the classic baking spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and brown sugar. ($35) (93) Uvaggio Primitivo 2010 (California). From Lodi; if primitivo is believed to be the parent of zinfandel, this will eliminate all doubt; spicy, not-quite-jammy, sweet/tart on the palate with soft tannins on the finish. ($20) (93) Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2010 (California). A wonderful zinfandel offering rich flavors of blackberry, blueberry, plum, chocolate and spice; well-balanced with a delicious, long second finish. ($19) (92) Paraduxx Z 2009 (California). This gorgeous zin blend shows deep garnet in the glass; complex aromas and taste of deep earthy bramble and vanilla cream spice; lush texture, tannic backbone rounded by full, ripe-fruit finish. ($48) (92) JC Cellars The Imposter 2010 (California). Deep in color and aromas; raspberry, chocolate and flowers on the palate lead to a lingering, balanced and elegant finish. ($40) JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013 | 31

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