Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

MWG March 20th tasting (7/7): Singular Zins

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Vin de France (2011), Z, Domaine de L’Arjolle ($19.95, LCBO 346072; available in Quebec as a $26 private import from L’Orée du bois)
100% Zinfandel from a one-hectare parcel of 16-year-old vines, the only Zinfandel planting in France. Manually harvested. Cold-soaked on the skins to extract phenolic compounds. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled (25°C) wooden vats. The resulting wine is matured in first- and second-fill barrels (two-thirds American oak, one-third French oak) for 12 months. Zinfandel not being a permitted variety in the Languedoc, the wine can be labelled only as a vin de France with no mention of vintage or grape. 14% ABV.
Savoury nose of tarry plum and blackberry (but no jam or prune), spice, pipe tobacco and cured pork. Full-bodied and full of ripe fruit that’s balanced by smooth acidity and round tannins and nuanced by mineral, cocoa and smoke flavours, which isn’t to say the wine couldn’t be deeper, longer or more complex. Still, this is far from a bomb – not quite as dry or rustic as a Primitivo but closer in style and food-friendliness to those southern Italians than to some of the sweet, overripe, overconcentrated and searingly alcoholic Zins coming out of the Golden State these days. Decent overall, especially at the LCBO price. (Buy again? If in Ontario and in the mood for a civilized Zin, sure.)

Zinfandel 2008, Fiddletown AVA, Old Vine, Eschen-Rinaldi Vineyard, Easton ($36.50, 12131340)
100% Zinfandel from one of the oldest, if not the oldest, currently producing vineyard in California, some of whose vines date back to the original 1865 planting. Dry-farmed without the use of synthetic chemicals. Matured in French oak. 4,800 bottles made. 14.5% ABV.
Blueberry, boysenberry, dried herbs, granite dust, peppery spice, discreet oak. More medium- than full-bodied. Savoury and dry. The fruit is earthy, freshened by bright acidity and deepened by subtle wood and a mineral substrate with a ferrous vein. The stealth tannins come out on the long, heady but not hot finish. Compared with the interchangeable fruit- and oak-heavy Zins that rule the market, this is terroir-driven, admirably restrained, somewhat old-fashioned and definitely contemplation-worthy, the kind of wine that could bring Zinfandel lovers turned skeptics back into the fold. (Buy again? Done!)

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Written by carswell

April 22, 2014 at 20:14

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