Thursday, October 9, 2008


One of the great unexpected values in Zinfandel has always been the Rancho Zabaco Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2005, though you wouldn’t quite know it from the reviews. This is all that all California Zin fan wants – medium-bodied, smooth mouthfeel, notes of brambly raspberries and chocolate-covered cherries, well-balanced, and juicy all the way through – yet it seems there is some inherent bias against Zin in recent years. Not sure if the reviewers just besmirch a Zin simply because it was produced in an “off” vintage, but here’s another good, solid Zin value offered up to the 89-point boneyard.

Two of the arguably lesser-used wine mags in the business, Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine and Wine Enthusiast, both award this tasty Zin 89 points.

Connoisseur’s Guide reviews it this way: “Well-concentrated blackberry aromas take a decided turn towards cabernet and dried fruits without giving up their attractiveness, and the full-bodied fleshy, slightly-soft palate impressions that follow bring along flavors that are both dense and tannin-impacted. Time is on its side if you care to put some in your cellar, but service with savory meats like garlicky leg of lamb will help it show well now.”

As for Wine Enthusiast: “Gallo did a great job with this wine, producing 31,000 cases, and yet making the wine smooth, balanced and delicious. It’s quintessential Sonoma Zin, with briary flavors of wild cherries and raspberries, and coatings of chocolate, anisette, bacon and spices.”

Neither of these reviews possesses anything negative, other than Connoisseur’s mentioning that its aromas “take a decided turn towards cabernet” inferring that it is not necessarily varietally correct. Aside from that allusion, you’d think that this wine deserves at least a 90. By the definition of the Parker scale, the score is probably correct, but the line between an 89 and a 90 point rating is as vast as the Sahara, and shaded completely gray. Perhaps the QPR is a bit askew, but I didn’t think that that was part of the criteria in reviewing, given that these folks are supposed to be tasting blind (aren’t they?).

Nevertheless, this wine deserves a try. Scores be damned!

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