Okay, it was actually a few days before Valentine’s. But clearly our uncharacteristically small group of Vancouver American Wine Society members who had gathered to compare a horizontal flight of ten 2002 Zinfandels were jumping into the spirit of romance.
Here they come in the order we tasted, and although it would be fun, we can take no credit for the final “heartfelt” evaluations of the ten offerings – each was delivered from an appointed, if sometimes reluctant, spokesperson at a different table.
Wine #1: Paso Robles Westside from Peachy Canyon Winery
Thin, weak, and presenting surprisingly little fruit either on the nose or the palate. This wine is like a ghostly and somewhat disappointing lover. Neat tasting room though as seen at the right.
Wine #2: Alexander Valley Todd Brothers Ranch from Dashe Cellars
Made with 4% Petit Syrah, the general consensus was that this wine was approaching – or perhaps even past – its prime. Tannins were still a bit coarse, and there was definite sediment. This wine was ranked as a dark and sultry, if a bit over the top lover.
Wine #3: Sonoma Valley Rhinefarm Vineyard from Gundlach Bundschu Winery
Softer and with a better balance than the previous one, most people agreed this wine showed coffee, chocolate, and mint overtones. The finish was longer, smoother like a well-oiled lover – apparently appealing as this wine was ranked Number One of the evening.
Wine #4: Amador County Grandpere from Renwood Winery
Made from old vines though from a newer winery (shown right), this wine was deemed somewhat austere. Oak on the nose but light in fruit, this wine – according to the table’s spokesperson – would not be finding its way onto her table nor into her bedroom even on Valentine’s Day.
Wine #5: Dry Creek Valley from Chateau Souverain
Not offensive, merely flat and faded from time with not enough fruit remaining to be worth mentioning. This wine is one lover who simply doesn’t deliver – even after midnight.
Wine #6: Dry Creek Valley from Foppiano Vineyards
Although we knew this vineyard specializes in “affordable,” this vintage was rather like stuffing your face full of penny candy in the general store. A fickle lover – even on a one night stand, first he thought he loved her, then he didn’t, then he did.
Wine #7: Napa Valley from Napa Wine Company
Like a chameleon, this wine exhibited the most dramatic amount of change of any poured this evening and garnered second favourite in the process. On the palate cedar, tobacco, and barnyard. In bed, an almost schizoid lover – but definitely one you’d happily suggest a roll in the hay with.
Wine #8: Napa Valley Old Vines from Fife Vineyards
Simple and somewhat nondescript but still comfortable, this wine is from old vines. Good for mindless quaffing on an open-air patio. A lover wearing nothing but flannel pajamas.
Wine #9: Napa Valley from Ravenswood Winery
Although this wine didn’t open as much as many of us had expected, it was “no wimpy wine.” Brawny and well structured, a few people found a hint of cream soda. This one is a somewhat reticent lover but definitely well built lover – perhaps even a redhead. (Note: these guys have a really fun website and a terrific sense of humour. Here’s an excerpt: At Ravenswood, there’s no pinkie raising, Brie eating, wine spitting wimpiness. Oh no. At the home of No Wimpy Wines, you’ll get to taste mind blowing zinfandel, witty conversation with our behind-the-bar staff and, if you so choose, private or group tours of the winery aka Zinfomania Central.)
Wine #10: Napa Valley from Rutherford Ranch
Controversy swirled around this wine as it became clear there was an almost unbelievable amount of bottle variation between each of the three that were poured. Some felt theirs was corked, others said “no, it’s just the style.” Was it a Madame wearing pancake make up and a feather boa or a great lover who hadn’t showered for a week? Few could agree.