Sunday, November 19, 2006

Knockout Zins

Yesterday I went to do some Thanksgiving wine shopping at Le Du’s Wines, a charming retail shop way over on Washington Street between Leroy and Morton in the far West Village. Le Du happened to be having a “Zinsgiving” tasting when I arrived, complete with seven bottles of the all-American grape and some blues guitar for entertainment. Although I usually celebrate my Thanksgiving sans the Zin, it couldn’t hurt to grab a glass and do some tasting while I shopped around.

If you are a fan of huge, super-extracted, high octane, punch-in-the-face wines, these Zins are most definitely for you. Holy Smokes! The wines ranged from the $12 Renwood from Sierra Foothills, California to the $40 Old Ghost from Lodi. My favorites (although I did not purchase any of them) were the Ravenswood ‘Big River’ Zinfandel and the Stuhlmuller, both from Alexander Valley and both made in a lighter style — more of a quick jab than a full on punch. The Marietta ‘Angeli’, also from Alexander Valley, blindsided me, like a powerful uppercut to your palate. Sure enough, 15.7% alcohol. I had to perform a standing 8 count to ensure that I could continue.

Although the 2004 Renwood was a bit thin and grapey, the other wines were well made and nicely structured. To say that this is not my particular style of wine would be an understatement but if you are a fan of that humongous “Turley” style of Zinfandel, you should put these on your wish list and give them a try. Personally, I would stay away from drinking them with turkey and stuffing and relegate them to cocktail hour. Oh, and pack a toothbrush.


2004 Renwood; Sierra Foothills; $12.99. Simple and grapey. Average wine.

2003 Ravenswood ‘Big River’; Alexander Valley; $31.99. Mouthwatering blue and black fruit. Nice acid and balance. For fans of a lighter style Zin.

2003 Chiarella ‘Giana’; St. Helena, Napa Valley; $34.99. Powerful, jammy fruit and spice. High alcohol and a bit overwhelming. You can find better at this price.

2004 Stuhlmuller; Alexander Valley; $25.99. Clean berry fruit and spice. Complex, nice balance and acidity keeps it fresh and not overpowering. For fans of a lighter style but with more layers than the Ravenswood. Personal favorite. BEST BUY.

2002 Marietta ‘Angeli’; Alexander Valley; $31.99. Wowza! This will get your palate’s attention. 8% Petite Sirah in the blend, which only adds to its force. Rich fruit and lots of spice. Port-like. Too much for me but if you like a whopper of a wine; it is fairly well balanced given all the alcohol.

2004 Elyse ‘Morisoli’; Napa; $37.99. Dense fruit and smoke. Full-bodied, soft mouthfeel. Big extraction - almost Syrah-like. Not as memorable as some of the other huge zins but well made nonetheless.

2004 Old Ghost; Lodi; $41.99. Big, syrupy red fruit and chocolate. Spicy finish. Massive and port-like but well balanced. May pair well with some dark chocolate.

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