Following our Zinfandel barbecue a few weeks ago, we did a replay to try another pair of vintage Sonoma Valley/County Zins from Hartford Russian River Valley and Benziger Sonoma Valley.
Bridging the Zins to a pair of Aussie Shiraz' was'Melée' Grenache from Tuck Beckstoffer, followed by HazyBlur Baroota and Flinders Ranges Shiraz'. These were all enjoyed with the ribs, artisan cheeses, bacon wrapped blue cheese stuffed figs and double chocolate cake desert.
Hartford Fanucchi Wood Road Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2003
This single vineyard select offering sourced from century old vines is the fifth blockbuster Hartford Zinfandel I've sampled over the last decade and I have yet to be disappointed, or even to encounter a less than stellar offering. However, at $60 retail, this is at the high end for this varietal. Located in the Sonoma County town of Forestville, the winery is about 15 miles from the cool Pacific Coast, an area more noted for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir than Zinfandel, varietals also produced by Hartford.
In 2002, winemaker Mike Sullivan named "Winemaker of the Year" by Ronn Wiegand M.S., M.W. in Restaurant Wines and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate named the Hartford Family Winery Winemaker, a "wine personality of the year." The 2000 Hartford Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard Zinfandel was named in the Top Ten Wines of 2002 by Bob Johnson, Wine Times, in January 2003.
This vintage release at ten years old was still at or near its peak, despite some hint of age in its color. Dark inky garnet color with a slight brownish hue, this is concentrated and rich, with full aromas and dense flavors of black raspberry and boysenberry with hints of blueberry fruit intermixed with black pepper, spice and hints of wood and mocha on a firm tannin finish.
RM 91 points.
Benziger Family Bruschera Vineyard Sonoma Valley Zinfandel 2007
Bill and Beth brought this hearty zin on cue for our barbecue. We became acquainted with Benziger Family Sonoma Valley wines when we met Erinn Benziger of Benziger Family Winery when she visited Chicago and presented at Binny's Beverage Depot Midwest Wine Expo. We all then visited Benziger Family Estate Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma Valley in the Autumn of 2009 during our Sonoma Wine Experience. Today over a dozen different family members are active in the extended family wine business that prides itself on the extent of its 'green' initiatives - certified sustainable, organic or Biodynamic© wines. A visit to their Sonoma Family Estate is a study in the practice with their numerous exhibits and self guided and formal tours of the property.
blends which were the highlight of their Binny's Expo tasting, along with the Sauvignon Blanc.
This Zinfandel is a limited single vineyard designated release from the Bruschera Family Vineyard, located on the Mayacamas (eastern) side of Sonoma Valley with twenty–two year old vines planted in white volcanic alluvial soil that produces hearty Zinfandel fruit with lush ripe flavors. As is the Benziger practice, the the Bruschera family practice organic sustainable agriculture - no herbicides or pesticides are used. The vineyard soil is nurtured through the use of cover crops, composts, compost teas and mulches.
Bill C 84 points. RM 87 points.
'Melée' Grenache 2010 from Tuck Beckstoffer
This is the second release of Melée Grenache. The large heavy oversize bottle is the first indication this wine is not for the feint of heart. The artistic primevil label should be further indication this is a unique wine. I would like to think that the over-the-top packaging is not to make up for the deficiencies in the product, but rather make a statement about the product the producer is striving to make, and that this particular product is not my 'cup of tea' as they say. More to the point, this is not the style of wine that I prefer and tend to favor but it was fun discovering and tasting.
Grenache is a variety of grape generally grown in hotter climates such as Spain (Garnachia), Australia, the Southern Central Valley in California and in the Southern Rhone River valley in France. Grenache produces spicy, berry-flavored fruit that tends to be soft on the palate with a with a relatively high alcohol content. It is commonly used in blending Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines in the Rhone region, and in Australia with other Rhone varietals Syrah and Mouvedre to produce 'GSM' (Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre) wines.I've never been a fan of Grenache however its generally not found standalone, but rather its generally widely produced to be blended with other varietals of complementary characteristics where the sum of the parts is greater than the parts resulting in a more complex but approachable and enjoyable drinking blend.
The fruit for Melee is sourced from Central California. It is a deep ruby/plum color with characteristic Grenache aromas and flavors - cherry, black cherry, early season plum, scents of shale, new leather and a hint of tobacco,big forward flavors of red currant, hints of pomegranate and licorice with firm, tannins and soaring acidity that produce a long lasting, focused finish.
RM 87 points.
HazyBlur Baroota South Australia Shiraz 2004
Emeril's at Universal Studios in Orlando. I had previously picked up and tasted other labels from this producer from Total Wine in Virginia.
Bill's tasting notes from Cellartracker - Continues to get better and better. Opaque, dark purple in the glass. Over time, the astringency and spice so evident when young has morphed into deep, complex and layered notes of mocha, clove, blackberry and a bit of plum. Although delicious in its youth, this is for me, a much more interesting wine as a 9 year old. Still 2 bottles left.
Bill C and RM 89 points.
Flinders Run Southern Flinders Ranges Baroota Australia Shiraz 2005
After dinner with double chocolate cake, fresh fruits and angel food cake with chocolate sauce we served two dessert wines - Elyse Napa Valley Cabernet Port and Triebaumer Ruster Ausbruch.
Elyse Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Port
The convergence of our two dinner guest couples, Eric & Cathy are in town to visit daughter Elyse, namesake of a Napa wine producer that we visited with Bill & Beth during our last Napa Valley Wine Experience. We picked this up at the winery in anticipation of such a gathering.
The thick almost syrupy extracted sweet fruit was offset by a smoky almond nut flavor. Rather than the highly desirable apricot or peach flavors, this tended to be more cirtus focused. This was a great complement to hard Parmesan cheese.
RM 88 points.