Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Monday, August 24, 2009

Get Zapped!

Late last month, a posse of Zapatistas rode into town following the Rhone Rangers. Since Zin requires heat, it seems they brought some heat with them. Since many are from places like Paso Robles, they seemed unfazed by the 90s temps that could make Zin grapes appear to grow out of the bottle before your very eyes and the wine bubble, bubble. The posse was only a small cadre of the 300 some odd Zinfandel Advocates and Producers almost all from California. Zin is grown all over California. My favorite region is the Sierra Foothills including the Amador and El Dorado AVAs. Paso Robles produces some excellent Zins and the Russian River area of Sonoma produces the most elegant Zins. If you really want to get down and sin, try Seven Deadly Zins from Lodi.

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.


  • At 3:06 PM, Blogger Michael Hughes said…

    This is completely unrelated to your posting but I just stumbled across your blog & had a question. I'll be returning to Seattle in October & I'm wondering what "can't miss" restaurants you'd suggest. Thanks!


  • At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Andrew Jones said…

    We stopped for a picnic and wine tasting yesterday at Renwood. If you're looking for a nice place to picnic and want to enjoy beautiful grounds and a great glass of wine, Renwood is your place.We bought two bottles inside and opened them up to enjoy with our spread. I really love all of Renwood's Zins. They are consistently delicious and smooth. Whether you go for one of their pricier Grandpere's (really a standout wine- a must have! And I don't get all the complaints about the price...try a decent bottle of Zin from Napa and it'll run you well over $60. For such a quality Zin, the price of the Grandpere is well worth it.) or if you choose one of their budget friendly bottles. Renwood really has quality wines.We decided to buy a bottle of their ice wine, which is really a treat, like liquid candy, and a bottle of their muscat to go. I guess we were in a sweet mood after the picnic!We tried the drink with my Cohiba cigar which give awesome taste.


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