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01.30.2005

California's Best Zinfandels: A Report From The ZAP 2005 Tasting

zap.barrels.jpg zap.crowd.jpg

Yesterday in San Francisco, thousands of wine drinkers converged on the Fort Mason pavilions in celebration of Zinfandel.

Hosted by the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers trade group, the Annual ZAP Festival takes place over several days and culminates in this public tasting which is attended by over 300 winemakers and nearly 100 times that many wine drinkers, journalists, and members of the trade.

I go to do one thing and one thing only: find out who's making the best Zinfandel in California so that I (and you, dear reader) can stock the cellar or at least keep watch on wine lists and in stores as the latest vintage of Zinfandel hits the market.

This year proved to be the busiest in recent memory at the tasting, which has clearly become an event that suffers from its own popularity. At about 2 PM it was nearly impossible to walk around in either of the two huge event halls that house the tasting which has long been too large to fit in just one. Luckily by that time I had been tasting for about 4 hours so I was mostly done.

My overall impressions of the 2002 and 2003 wines is that they are very good, though not as amazing as the 2001s in general. There are a few producers who continue to make stupendous wines regardless of the overall quality of the vintage which you can find in my list of top wines below. At rough count I tasted about 200 wines. Here is my list of the best on offer. All wines are (red) Zinfandel unless otherwise noted.

OUTSTANDING WINES:

  • 2002 Downing Family Vineyards, "Fly By Night," Oakville. Outstanding, one of their best efforts to date. Score: 9.5/10. Cost:$24.
  • 2003 Rosenblum Cellars, Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. Holy cow! Score: 9.5/10. Cost:$38.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Downing Family Vineyards, "Fly By Night," Oakville. Wow. Two vintages in a row. Score: 9.5/10. Cost:$24.
  • 2002 Charter Oak, Napa Valley and Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. Huge wine. Heavy fruit. Residual sugar? Score: 9.5/10. Cost:$40.
  • 2000 Folie a Deux Winery, Bowman Vineyard, Amador County. Score: 9.5. Cost:$22.
  • 2003 Hartford Family Winery, Highwire Vineyard, Russian River Valley. This is the best wine they have ever made from this vineyard. Score: 9.5. Cost:$??.
  • 2001 Scott Harvey, Old Vine, White Label Amador County. Score: 9.5. Cost:$25.
  • 2001 Scott Harvey, Mountain Selection, Red Label, Amador County. Score: 9.5. Cost:$15.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Scott Harvey, Old Vine, White Label, Amador County. Awesome. Score: 9.5. Cost:$25.
  • 2003 Carlisle Winery, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 9.5. Cost:$33.
  • 2002 Charter Oak, Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma County. Very extracted. Score: 9.5. Cost:$40.
  • 2002 Charter Oak, Napa Valley. Very extracted. Score: 9.5. Cost:$40.
  • 2003 Rosenblum Cellars, Rockpile Road, Dry Creek/Rockpile. Score: 9.5. Cost:$27.
  • 2003 Rosenblum Cellars, Samsel Vineyard. Awesome. Score: 9.5. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 Vieux Os (Schrader Cellars), IRA Carter Vineyard, Napa. Score: 9.5. Cost:$??.

    BEST VALUES:

  • 2002 Downing Family Vineyards Fly By Night, Oakville. Outstanding, one of their best efforts to date. Score: 9.5/10. Cost:$24.
  • 2001 Scott Harvey, Mountain Selection, Red Label, Amador County. Score: 9.5. Cost:$15.
  • 2000 Folie a Deux Winery, Bowman Vineyard, Amador County. Score: 9.5. Cost:$22.
  • 2002 Vino Noceto, Ferrero Ranch, Shenandoah Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$16.
  • 2001 Folie a Deux Winery, Amador County. Score: 9. Cost:$18.
  • 2002 Milliaire Winery, "Ghiradelli," Sierra Foothills. Score: 9. Cost:$18.
  • 2003 Quivira Estate Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$20.

    EXCELLENT WINES:

  • 2003 Jus Soli Winery, Dry Creek Valley. Relatively new winery; heavy blueberry aspect. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$24.
  • 2002 Tofanelli Vineyard, Napa. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$34.
  • 2003 Neyers, Pato Vineyard, Contra Costa County. Excellent, better than in years past from a great vineyard. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 Cloud 9, Amador County. Scott Harvey is the winemaker. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$~11?.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Acorn Cellars Heritage Vines, Alegria Vineyards, Russian River Valley. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$30.
  • 2002 Adelaida Cellars Reserve, Paso Robles. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$35.
  • 2002 Adobe Road Wines, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$32.
  • 2003 Ballentine Vineyards, Block 11, Napa. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Hendry, Block 7, Napa. Nicely balanced. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$27.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Hendry, Block 7, Napa. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$28.
  • 2002 Chase Family Cellars, Hayne Vineyard, Napa. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Saddleback Cellars, Venge Family Reserve, Scout's Honor, Napa. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$35.
  • 2002 Saucelito Canyon Vineyard, Reserve, Arroyo Grande Valley. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 Vieux Os (Schrader Cellars), Tamagni's Hellhole Vineyard, Napa. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$??.
  • 2001 Spelletich Cellars, Alviso Vineyard, Amador County. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$24.
  • 2002 Rued Wines, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$24.
  • 2001 Ottomino, Von Weidlich Vineyard, Sonoma County. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Ridge Vineyards, "Independent School," Alexander Valley. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$30.
  • 2003 Ridge Vineyards, "Geyserville," Alexander Valley. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$30.
  • 1996 F. Teldeschi Winery, Estate, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 9/9.5. Cost:$25.

    VERY GOOD TO GREAT WINES:

  • 2002 Adelaida Cellars, Paso Robles. Score: 9. Cost:$24.
  • 2003 Ballentine Vineyards, Block 7, Napa. Score: 9. Cost:$27.
  • 2001 Ballentine Vineyards, Old Vines, Napa. Score: 9. Cost:$18.
  • 2002 Battaglini Estate Winery, Proprietor's Reserve, Twin Pines Vineyard, Russian River Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$31.
  • 2003 Brown Estate, Napa Valley. Not as good as years past. Score: 9. Cost:$36.
  • 2002 Bucklin Old Hill Ranch, Sonoma Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 Carlisle Winery, Fava Ranch, Russian River Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$30.
  • 2003 Carlisle Winery, Sonoma County. Score: 9. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Chateau Montelena Winery, Napa. 33% Primitivo, and a surprisingly good wine from classic Chard producer. Score: 9. Cost:$25.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Chatom Vineyards, Sierra Foothills. Score: 9. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Chiarello Family Vineyards, Felicia Old Vine, Napa. Score: 9. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 Cosentino "Cigar Zin," Napa. Not as good as years past. Score: 9. Cost:$27.
  • 2002 Dashe Cellars, Big River Ranch, Alexander Valley. Very tannic, needs 3 years in cellar. Score: 9. Cost:$28.
  • 2002 Dashe Cellars, Todd Brothers Ranch, Alexander Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$28.
  • 2002 D-Cubed Cellars, Black Sears Vineyard. Score: 9. Cost:$40.
  • 2001 Folie a Deux Winery, Amador County. Score: 9. Cost:$18.
  • 2000 Folie a Deux Winery, Barrel Select. Score: 9. Cost:$35.
  • 1999 Gabrielli Winery, Old Vines, Luvisi Vineyard, Napa. Really nice finish. Score: 9. Cost:$??.
  • 2001 Hendry, Block 28, Napa. Spicy, nice. Score: 9. Cost:$28.
  • 2002 Milliaire Winery, "Ghiradelli," Sierra Foothills. Score: 9. Cost:$18.
  • 2001 Milliaire Winery, "Clockspring," Sierra Foothills. Score: 9. Cost:$??.
  • 2001 Marr Cellars, Old Vine, Mattern Ranch, Mendocino. Score: 9. Cost:$22.

  • 2003 Quivira Estate Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$20.
  • 2002 Ridge Vineyards, "Nervo," Sonoma County. Score: 9. Cost:$24.
  • 2001 Ottomino, Rancho Bello Vineyard, Sonoma County. Score: 9. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Ravenswood, Belloni Vineyard, Russian River Valley. Great! Score: 9. Cost:$30.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Ridge Vineyards, "Lytton Springs," Dry Creek Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$30.
  • 2003 Rosenblum Cellars, Harris Kratka, Alexander Valley. Nice tobacco and coffee flavors. Score: 9. Cost:$30.
  • 2001 Rued Wines, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma.. Score: 9. Cost:$24.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Saddleback Cellars, Old Vine, Napa. Score: 9. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Saddleback Cellars, Old Vine, Napa. Score: 9. Cost:$30.
  • 2002 Spelletich Cellars, Alviso Vineyard, Amador County. Score: 9. Cost:$24.
  • 2002 Spelletich Cellars, Tim & Edie's Vineyard, Shenandoah Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$24.
  • 2002 (barrel sample) Storrs Winery, Rusty Ridge. Score: 9. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Storrs Winery, Old Vine, Lion Oakes Vineyard, Santa Clara County. Score: 9. Cost:$32.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Tofanelli Vineyard, Napa. Score: 9. Cost:$34.
  • 2003 Tin Barn Vineyards, Glisson Vineyard, Russian River Valley. Gorgeous nose. Score: 9. Cost:$27.
  • 1995 F. Teldeschi Winery, Estate, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Woodenhead, Braccialini Vineyard, Alexander Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$32.
  • 2002 Woodenhead, Martinelli Road Old Vine, Russian River Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$36.
  • 2002 Vino Noceto, Ferrero Ranch, Shenandoah Valley. Score: 9. Cost:$16.

  • 2002 Adelaida Cellars Slo Zin, Paso Robles. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$18.
  • 2002 Adobe Road Wines, Alexander Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 August Briggs, Napa Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$32.
  • 1998 Battaglini Estate Winery, Estate Twin Pines Vineyard, Russian River Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Battaglini Estate Winery, Estate Twin Pines Vineyard, Russian River Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$27.
  • 2003 Borra Winery, Gill Creek Ranch, Lodi. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$16.
  • 2003 Brown Estate, Chiles Valley, Napa. Unusual bread-like flavors. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$42.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Brutocao Cellars, Mendocino County. Unusual and pleasant blueberry flavors. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$20.
  • 2002 Cedarville Vineyard, Estate, El Dorado County. Score: 8.5/9. Solid, but not as good as years past. Cost:$22.
  • 2002 Chatom Vineyards, Sierra Foothills. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Chiarello Family Vineyards, Giana Young Vine, Napa. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 Copain Wine Cellars, Arrowhead Mountain, Sonoma Valley. Very odd, unexpected tobacco flavors. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$35.
  • 2003 Cosentino "The Zin," Napa. Not as good as years past. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$30.
  • 2003 Hartford Family Winery, Russian River Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Handley Cellars, Redwood Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$20.
  • 1999 Gabrielli Winery, Goforth Vineyard, Redwood Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$??.
  • 2001 DK cellars Sierra Foothills. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$16.
  • 2001 Lake Sonoma Winery, Saini Farms, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$25.
  • 2001 Lava Cap Winery, Reserve, El Dorado. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$20.
  • 2003 Karly Wines, Pokerville, Amador County. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$??.
  • 2001 Mariah Vineyards, Mendocino Ridge. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$30.
  • 2003 Marr Cellars, Old Vine, Mattern Ranch, Mendocino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$22.
  • 2001 Marr Cellars, Russian River / Dry Creek Valleys, Sonoma. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Milliaire Winery, "Clockspring," Sierra Foothills. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$18.
  • 2002 Milliaire Winery, "Derivi," Sierra Foothills. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$18.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Mauritson Family Winery, Rockpile. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Ridge Vineyards, "York Creek," Spring Mountain. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$28.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Outpost Estate, Howell Mountain, Napa. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$40.
  • 2002 Porter-Bass Winery, Porter-Bass Vineyard, Russian River Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$28.
  • 2003 Rabbit Ridge Winery, Old Vine Reserve, Paso Robles. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$30.
  • 2003 Rabbit Ridge Winery, Westside Paso Robles Vineyards, Paso Robles. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$16.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Ravenswood, Barricia Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$30.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Ravenswood, Dickerson Vineyard, Napa. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$30.
  • 2002 Vino Noceto, OGP, The Original Grandpere Vineyard, Amador County. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$30.
  • 1994 F. Teldeschi Winery, Estate, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Tres Sabores, Karen Culler Cuvee, Rutherford, Napa. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$30.
  • 2002 Tres Sabores, Rudy Zuidema Cuvee, Rutherford, Napa. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$30.
  • 2003 Turley Wine Cellars, Hayne Vineyard, Napa. Score: 8.5/9. Cost:$~65 (TBD).

  • 2003 Artezin, Napa. Score: 8.5. Cost:$15.
  • 2002 Borra Winery, Gill Creek Ranch, Lodi. Score: 8.5. Cost:$16.
  • 2002 Brutocao Cellars, Mendocino County. Score: 8.5. Cost:$20.
  • 2001 Chatom Vineyards, Sierra Foothills. Score: 8.5. Cost:$??.
  • 1999 Clayton Vineyard, Block W, Central Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$30.
  • 2002 Dashe Cellars, Louvau Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$28.
  • 2003 Gamba Vineyards Old Vine Estate, Russian River Valley. residual sugar makes it a bit too sweet. Score: 8.5. Cost:$35.
  • 2003 Hartford Family Winery, Fanucchi-wood Road, Russian River Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$??.
  • 2000 DK Cellars, Sierra Foothills. Score: 8.5. Cost:$16.
  • 2002 D-Cubed Cellars, Howell Mountain. Score: 8.5. Cost:$35.
  • 2002 D-Cubed Cellars, Napa Valley. Significantly poorer than in previous years. Score: 8/8.5. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Barclay & Browning, Old Vine, Hoodoo Creek Vineyard, Lake County. Score: 8/8.5. Cost:$21.
  • 2002 Howell Mountain Vineyards, Beatty Ranch, Howell Mountain, Napa. Score: 8.5. Cost:$38.
  • 2002 Howell Mountain Vineyards, Black Sears Vineyard, Howell Mountain, Napa. Score: 8.5. Cost:$38.
  • 2001 Hunt Cellars, Outlaw Ridge, Reserve, Paso Robles. Score: 8.5. Cost:$38.
  • 2002 Mayo Family Winery, Old Vine Reserve, Ricci Vineyard, Russian River Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$40.
  • 2002 Mariah Vineyards, Mendocino Ridge. Score: 8.5. Cost:$30.
  • 2002 Martin Family Vineyards, Rattlesnake Rock, Russian River Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$36.
  • 2002 Martin Family Vineyards, Old Vine, Three Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$26.
  • 2001 Lake Sonoma Winery, Russian River Valley. Nice finish. Score: 8.5. Cost:$25.
  • 2003 Homefire Cellars, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$12.
  • 2002 Passalacqua Winery, Old Vine, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$29.
  • 2002 Quivira Estate Vineyards, Anderson Ranch, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$29.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Ravenswood, Teldeschi Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$30.
  • 2002 Woodenhead, Pacini Vineyard, Mendocino County. Score: 8.5. Cost:$26.
  • 2003 XYZin, Sandy Lane Vineyard, Contra Costa County. Score: 8.5. Cost:$29.
  • 2002 Tres Sabores, Ashley Heisey Cuvee, Rutherford, Napa. Score: 8.5. Cost:$30.
  • 2001 Storrs Winery, Old Vine, Lion Oakes Vineyard, Santa Clara County. Score: 8.5. Cost:$??.
  • 202 Talty Winery, Estate, William Talty Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8.5. Cost:$32.
  • 2003 Tin Barn Vineyards, Dalraddy Vineyard, Napa Valley. Wound up a little tight. Score: 8.5. Cost:$27.
  • 2002 Zoom Vineyards, San Francisco Bay, Old Vines. Over the top. Score: 8.5. Cost:$??.

  • 2002 Howell Mountain Vineyards, Old Vine, Howell Mountain, Napa. Score: 8/8.5. Cost:$26.
  • 2001 Hunt Cellars, Outlaw Ridge, Paso Robles. Score: 8/8.5. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Lava Cap Winery, Reserve, El Dorado. Score: 8/8.5. Cost:$20
  • 2001 Mauritson Family Winery, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8/8.5. Cost:$24.
  • 2004 (barrel sample) Mayo Family Winery, Old Vine Reserve, Ricci Vineyard, Russian River Valley. Score: 8/8.5. Cost:$??.

  • 2002 Bargetto Winery, Rauser Vineyard, Lodi. Score: 8. Cost:$14.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Chateau Potelle Winery, Mt. Veeder. Score: 8. Cost:$53.
  • 2002 Girard, Old Vine, Napa. Score: 8. Cost:$24.
  • 2002 Handley Cellars, Anderson Valley. Score: 8. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Dashe Cellars, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Davis family Vineyards, Old Vine, Russian River Valley. Score: 8. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Mauritson Family Winery, Rockpile. Score: 8. Cost:$29.
  • 2002 Martin Family Vineyards, Red Rooster, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8. Cost:$29.
  • 2001 Klinker Brick Winery, Old Vine, Lodi. Score: 8. Cost:$15.
  • 2001 Lake Sonoma Winery, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8. Cost:$20.
  • 2003 Mayo Family Winery, Old Vine Reserve, Ricci Vineyard, Russian River Valley. Score: 8. Cost:$25.
  • 2002 Hunt Cellars, Outlaw Ridge, Reserve, Paso Robles. Score: 8. Cost:$30.
  • 2002 Quivira Estate Vineyards, Wine Creek Ranch, Dry Creek Valley. Green, stemmy/vegetal aspect. Score: 8. Cost:$29.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Ravenswood, Big River, Alexander Valley. Score: 8. Cost:$30.
  • 2002 RHR, Beckwith/Old Bailey, Paso Robles. Score: 8. Cost:$??.
  • 2003 (barrel sample) Ridge Vineyards, "Ponzo," Russian River. Score: 8. Cost:$26.
  • 2002 Steele Wines, Catfish Vineyard, Lake County. Score: 8. Cost:$18.
  • 2002 Porque No? (Tres Sabores), Napa. Score: 8. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Unti Vineyards Estate, Dry Creek Valley. Score: 8. Cost:$22.
  • 2004 XYZin, Sandy Lane Vineyard, Contra Costa County. Score: 8. Cost:$??.
  • 2002 Zoom Vineyards, Alexander Valley. Too much fruit, residual sugar. Score: 8. Cost:$24.

    Comments (18)

    Doug wrote:
    01.31.05 at 8:40 AM

    Thanks for the detailed report, I'm exhausted just from the read. Keep up the great work!

    Lenn wrote:
    01.31.05 at 10:43 AM

    DAMN...you did some tasting, huh? Thanks for the complete and comprehensive list...if only I could find any of these on Long Island!

    Molly wrote:
    01.31.05 at 11:06 AM

    I wanted to go but heard it was so crowded and people got all drunk and silly. Maybe next year. It sounds like you tasted some great stuff, I especailly enjoy the Rosenblum and Woodenhead.

    Thanks for the great review.

    Mesha wrote:
    01.31.05 at 11:37 AM

    Zap was great this year and we appreciate your comments. Since, you didn't know our pricing I would like to fill you in. Currently,all four wines presented at ZAP are only at the winery or our website.
    9.5 points: 2003 Ballentine Vineyards Block 11 $25.00
    9.0 points: 2001 Ballentine Vineyards Bg Reserve Block 9 $27.00
    9.0 points: 2001 Ballentine Vineyards Old Vines
    $18.00
    Our 2003 Zinfandel Port (barrel sample at the tasting) will be released this spring. 500ml at $40.00.
    Hope this helps anyone who is interested.
    Mesha Provo

    Rich wrote:
    01.31.05 at 1:59 PM

    You are the man Alder...nice write up.

    I hope you were spitting or had a ride home!

    enoch choi wrote:
    01.31.05 at 6:36 PM

    wow. this is why i don't do ZAP. stick to the trade tastings where you're not body-to-body...

    Fatemeh wrote:
    01.31.05 at 6:52 PM

    Woah.

    I didn't go this year because I thought it would be a madhouse.

    I feel like I WAS there because of your report!

    That Monte Rosso Vineyard produces some really great zins. We just picked up a couple of bottles of the Ravenswood Monte Rosso. I can't wait to pick up one or two of these other ones and do a tasting.

    Thank you, as always, for such a wonderful report.

    Alder wrote:
    01.31.05 at 8:28 PM

    Well it definitely is a madhouse, but I did most of my tasting during the trade/media portion of the event, which was significantly less busy than the photos above, which were taken at about 2:00 PM after most of the public tasters were well into it.

    02.01.05 at 5:50 AM

    so many wines, so little time!

    caveman wrote:
    02.01.05 at 7:40 AM

    Nice write-up, Zin is still a mystery to me as we don't tend to get a lot of them up here... what do you think of Sky?
    Caveman

    Alder wrote:
    02.01.05 at 10:16 AM

    Thanks Bill. You should come down for the festival some time. It's a heap of fun, and lots of good wine to be had.

    Sky has been around a long time but I've never had their wines. You ?

    David wrote:
    02.02.05 at 7:33 AM

    I did about 75-80 wines starting at 10 am...many of the same producers that were on your list. Too many wines had shockingly high levels of r/s, and were over-ripe, over-extracted zinfandels that did not 'inspire thirst'. Some of them tasted as if they were filtered through a bag of brown sugar...purple, sugar-cane motor oil. Notable exceptions were the Storybook Mtn. Mayacamas, and the Lamborn. Hope your palate recovers...

    Alder wrote:
    02.02.05 at 11:04 AM

    David,

    Thanks for the comment. I think I may have a higher tolerance for over-extracted wines, or perhaps prefer jammier zins than the next man. While there were a couple of wines that were definitely in the "shocking" category, I obviously found many wines that were quite good.

    Erin Cline wrote:
    02.08.05 at 10:28 AM

    Alder,
    As a Zinfandel Producer I would like to thank you for your comprehensive coverage of the ZAP tasting at Fort Mason. There were definitely many exciting wines this year to taste.I hope you will join us next year as we celebrate our 15th Zinfandel Tasting but make sure you visit the Trinitas Cellars table.

    Cheers, Erin

    Mark wrote:
    10.10.07 at 11:12 AM

    Were there any bad wines? I am skeptical of a reviewer that rates everything 8 or higher.

    Alder wrote:
    10.10.07 at 11:22 AM

    Mark, you're in for a tough time out there in the wine world, as the vast majority of wine critics only rate wines at 86 points and higher on the 100 point scale.

    All kidding aside, however, I'm sure there were some bad wines there, but I didn't taste them. There are three reasons for this:

    1. Just chance -- the wineries whose wines I tried that I had not ever tried before WERE all better than average (keep in mind that a score of around 8 on my scale is about a B- in the US letter grading system).

    2. I tend to taste wines from wineries that I know are reputable and make decent wines, and I skip the people who I know make crappy wines.

    kat wrote:
    11.02.07 at 8:56 PM

    hey..wonder if you've tried any Selby wines. They have a room in Healdsburg town center. I love one of theirs in particular..it is super heavy high alch. zin...almost a port. - Any thoughts or any comparable ..heavy, jammy, zins cabs or meritages that you'd recommend? THANKS!

    Alder wrote:
    11.02.07 at 11:32 PM

    Kat,

    That wine essentially IS a port (though it has not been fortified with extra alcohol). It is a late harvest wine, meaning that it has a lot of residual sugar. Rosenblum makes a zinfandel port that you might like to try if you like that one. My dad prefers his Zins sweeter, and he enjoys the Zoom zinfandels, so you might give those a try.

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