It really was too hot to enjoy red wine, but it was great to get to taste so many wines in one room. In fact, for a change, it was the right amount of wine in the right amount of time in the right amount of space thanks to the event planning skills of wine impresario David Le Claire. There were many small wineries and most of the biggies you can find on the supermarket shelf. Bogle was there as were Rancho Zabaco, Peachy Canyon, Four Vines and Ravenswood. At the higher end Rosenblum and Ridge were represented as well as Opolo, Renwood and Sobon. Among smaller wineries were Hendry, Proulx, and Quivera.
Virtually all of the wines were good - not a bad one in the bunch, but there were very few standout wines. The good thing is, with that kind of consistency, you can almost buy any Zin and have a good quaff. The bad thing is the really exciting wines are reserve and vineyard designate wines that are pricey. Some of the best wines were made in small quantities by big wineries and mostly available only at the winery. I keep telling you the best way to to buy wine is to taste it at the winery and bring it home with you in your air-conditioned car. Happily, very few wines were big and jammy and in-your-face. Almost all the wines had a consumer friendly profile of good fruit with a hint of "sweet" feel in a light to medium bodied style. My bias is toward big brambly Zin with "garrigue" and enough tannin to stand up to any roast, stew, or steak. Many of the wines I tasted seemed more suitable for Pizza, burgers or a picnic. Not too long ago, Sobon Reserve or Renwood Grandpere fit the bill. Now they seem like big brothers to their more common sibs.
Something was missing? My favorite Zin profile, yes, but also, where was the Washington State Zin? Yes, Washington State Zin! Washington winemakers and grapegrowers are adventuresome, on the edge, experimenters. You can get almost any grape you want in Washington, even Pinot Noir. Among others, Paul Portteus grows Zin, makes Zin, and sells Zin to others. From California Turley Zins were absent, although I must admit that I prefer her Petit Sirah. Maybe I'm just a crotchety old Grandpere, but I expect more character from 90 year old vines. On the other hand, if you are having pizza, burgers or a picnic, you can pretty much grab a Zin off the shelf and count on a good quaff.