Despite my increasing backlog of posts and the mountains of work I'm undertaking lately, I did manage to sneak away to ZAP, the 16th annual Zinfandel Advocates & Producers tasting, as I have done for the last 10 years (except for that year I was tasting in France...). This year, I guess my credibility has increased to the level of being let in as Press, which brings you in early and gives you access to the media lounge that has almost one of everything to taste --no lines.
In the lounge, I also got to meet a few podcaster buddies face-to-face, Tim from the Winecast (and host of this month's WBW), and Joe and Pam from A Guy, A Girl, and a Bottle (even did a quick wrap-up with them). I also had a nice hang with one of the Royal R's of Zinfandel, Kent Rosenblum and got his take on what he is looking for when he's tasting zin (a sense of the terroir, big pure fruit, and a lingering finish). By the looks of my top picks, I seem to gravitate towards the less extracted style than Kent. Of course, there is every style represented in spades at ZAP, so come next year and find your favorites.
Out of the 100 or so things I tasted, here are the standouts in random categories for those who love lists:
My favorite wines from the 2007 ZAP (the ones I will be looking for and buying this year):
- Benessere 2004 BK Collins, Old Vines, Napa Valley: Darker and more brooding than the delicious raspberry scented 2004 Black Glass Estate.
- Robert Biale Vineyards 2oo5 Grande, Napa Valley: probably the best showing '05 in the place; round and ripe. A top pick.
- Bluenose Wines 2004 Dry Creek Vineyards: I liked their 2003 offering, and this year is no exception. Round and lovely, slightly peppery and pleasantly herbal tinged.
- Bucklin 2004 Old Hill Ranch, Sonoma: round and spicy. I also liked their '05 Mixed Blacks with its huge clove/spice nose and bright acids.
- Carlisle Winery 2005 Dry Creek Valley: another '05 that is already drinking nicely. Look for this as well as the Pietro's Ranch if you want more acid. Both have great Dry Creek spicy styling.
- Chase Family Cellars 2004 Hayne Vineyard: this is a deep wine. The 2004 Reserve is deeper, more explosive and has a longer finish, but at $75 is out of reach for most. The regular bottling at $30 is a very special bottle of wine and right now, I prefer it to the rich big brother. A top pick.
- Collier Falls Vineyard 2002 Private Reserve, Dry Creek Valley was not showing well last year at ZAP, this year its bright high cherry nose and light body stood out. The 2003 is also drinking very nicely now.
- Crushpad 2004 Beatty Ranch, Howell Mountain: This was nicely made, and I'm now convinced that the boys at Crushpad are getting it together to make some well made wine. I'm unconvinced at the price though, at $50.
- Davis Family Vineyards 2004 Old Vines, Russian River Valley is a top pick this year and the 2005 is destined for greatness.
- D-Cubed Cellars 2004 Howell Mountain: lighter in style than the excellent 2003, but has beautiful zippy red-berry aromas.
- Dry Creek Vineyard 2004 Beeson Ranch, Dry Creek Valley: Wow! how did I miss this in previous years? Perfectly balanced between the fruit and acid. Gotta find some of this. top pick
- Haywood Estate 2004 Rocky Terrace, Los Chamizal Vineyard, Sonoma Valley: Voluptuous. Another one I can't believe I haven't paid attention to in the past.
- Hendry 2003 Block 28: The block 28 is always one of my top picks and this release in no exception. It has very high toned cherry aromas and a fresh, bright acid profile. Soon, look for the smokey goodness of the Block 7 2005.
- Macauley Vineyard 2004 Zin Blend, Moss Creek Vineyard: This year's release of the Moss Creek got a new lift from tiny bit of Petite Syrah. Adding PS seems to be getting more common and in some hands, it's over the top. Not so with the Macauley. A top pick.
- Papapietro Perry 2004 Russian River Valley: This was one I picked to watch last year, and I'm really pleased with this year's offering. It has great, dark black/red berry notes and is a nice expression of Russian River soil and sun.
- Roshambo Winery 2004 Taylor Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley: Nice focused spice, bright and perfumed. This is by far my favorite Roshambo offering yet. A top pick.
- Tin Barn Vineyards 2004 Dalraddy Vineyard, Napa Valley-Chiles Valley: More forward acid profile than the '04 Glisson, and this year I prefer it. Open this with a great meal.
- Tres Sabores 2004 Rutherford: completely different than anything else at ZAP. Rutherford darkness pairs with balanced tartness.
- Trinitas Cellars 2003 Russian River Valley: Round and ready, toasty and delicious. Medium body style. I like this better than the 2003 Contra Costa offerings this year.
- Turley Wine Cellars 2005 Barrel Sample Hayne Valley: Explosive berry and spicy cloves on the nose. Firm dark tannins. Top Pick --and $75 if you can find it.
Top Surprises (never heard of 'em):
- Adobe Road Winery 2003 Sorpresa Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley $38 Pretty extracted and syrupy for a DCV zin, flavorful and long finished. Ultimately, it's not really my style, but if you like 'em big, it's a treat.
- Ottimino 2003 Rancho Bello Russian River from the Green Valley area reminded me of their neighbor Fred Scherrer's excellent zins and the 2003 Von Weidlich was one of my top picks with its heady bright aromas.
- Mara Winery 2004 Reserve Dolinsek Ranch Russian River Valley: This one was one of Kent Rosenblum's picks, and I can see why. It is a brooding wine with a super long finish. It is a little too plush and fruity for my liking. Something to drink on its own.
Proudest Corkdork moment at ZAP 07? --Sniffing out 2 corked bottles the pourers missed, both later confirmed as corked. (No names here...everyone gets a corked bottle now and then). The surprise here is that my nose was still sensitive enough to notice, after at least 50 tastes. Dorkiest moment? --Knocking my glass to its death while pointing out Papapietro Perry to Tim in the media lounge. At least you get a new glass for free when you're press!