Tasting Notes I I I

These notes are from the blind tasting done for the competitive San Francisco Wine Competition. Seven teams of tasters took on about 1500 wines over two days of tasting. There were two flights of Zinfandel and our group had one of the two flights which included 26 medal winners. This included 5 double gold Zins. Double gold means all four tasters in the group agreed that it was a gold medal winner. These are wines to buy and try if you can find them.

Any Zinfandel tasting this large and containing a lot of world-class wines tends to be difficult since the high alcohol, high-extract wines always show well. But they swamp more delicate and complex wines. Many of these winning wines may not drink as well as they taste. Still the top performing wines in these events tend to be pretty good wines. Most are flashy show pieces. There are a lot of sleepers here too. My notes are brief with a point total, my medal ranking and the summarized group medal ranking. Since this was a blind tasting I did not get to note the alcohol levels of the wines. I did look into the double golds and I saw they were all in the 14-plus-percent range. The point totals for these wines are secondary to medal selection. Also my notes are short impressions. The results are listed as point total followed by my medal selection followed by the group medal selection. When the entire foursome chooses gold then the wine gets the double gold award.

This list represents half of the Zins entered. Another group tasted other Zins. I'll add the winners to the site when I receive the complete list.

Medal codes:

N = no medal, B= Bronze, S = Silver, G=Gold, GG=consensus Gold or double Gold

Hop Kiln 1996 Zinfandel (unfined/unfiltered), Sonoma $16 -- Only a slight Zin nose, fruity, lightweight. I was a big dissenter on this wine 80, N, B

York Mountain 1996 Zinfandel,San Louis Obispo $14 -- Nice Zin nose, neat fruity aromas, 88, B, N

Pedroncelli 1996 Zinfandel (Mother Clone), Dry Creek Valley $13 -- Slight oak, well made good wine, 89, B, N

Gallo of Sonoma 1996 Zinfandel (Barelli Creek) Alexander Valley $14 -- Big, plummy, dark, huge. 91, S, S

McElroy Wines 1996 Zinfandel (Porter Bass), Russian River Valley $18 -- Intense Zin flavors, nicely oaked nose. 90, S, G

Gallo of Sonoma 1996 Zinfandel (Stefani Vineyard) Dry Creek $16 -- Dark, homemade style I particularly like. 92, G, GG

Windsor Vineyards 1996 Zinfandel (Private Reserve), Mendocino $14 -- Lightweight. 87, N, N

Rosenblum Cellars 1996 Zinfandel (Annette's Reserve), Redwood Valley, $22 -- Nice wine, very dark. Long finish. 90, S, S

Castle Vineyards 1886 Zinfandel, Sonoma, $17 -- Fruity. Nothing great. 87, N, B

Monthaven 1996 Zinfandel, California $10 -- Nothing special. 84, N, N

Alderbrook Vineyards 1996 Zinfandel, Sonoma, $19 -- Good overall, but not noteworthy. 88, B, B

Charles Krug 1996 Zinfandel, California $7 -- Offbeat. 84, N, N


Sierra Vista 1996 Zinfandel (Reeves), El Dorado $15 -- In between style that I liked. Beautiful finish. 90, S, S

Sierra Vista 1996 Zinfandel (Herbert), El Dorado $15 Beautiful nose, but falls short. 88, B, S

Rosenblum Cellars 1996 Zinfandel (Reserve, Hendry), Napa Valley, $26 -- OK wine. 86, N, B

Bonverre 1996 Zinfandel, California, $10 -- Only fair. 85, N, N

Quail Creek 1996 Zinfandel, California, $10 -- Good but not special. 88, N, N

Quail Ridge Cellars & Vineyards 1996 Zinfandel (Dal Raddy, Hahigran), Napa Valley, $15 -- Not to my liking. 84, N, N

Windsor Vineyards 1996 Zinfandel (old vines, private reserve), Russian River Valley $14-- Nice plummy style. 89, B, B

Hop Kiln 1996 Zinfandel-Primativo, Sonoma $22 -- Nothing special but OK. 87, N, N

Windsor 1996 Zinfandel, Sonoma $10 -- Nothing special either, but some tasters liked it. 88, B, S

Elizabeth Vineyards 1996 Zinfandel (Elizabeth), Redwood Valley, Mendocino, $14 -- Interesting and good. I thought it was the weakest of the double golds, though I liked it. 91, G, GG

Hanna Winery 1996 Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, $12 --Did not like. 80, N, N

Saucelito Canyon Vineyard 1996 Zinfandel (Estate), Arroyo Grande Valley, $19 -- Peppery nose, nice flavors very dark. 91, S, S


Clos du Val 1996 Zinfandel, California, $15 -- A lot of syrah in this blend didn't help. 82, N, N

Forchini 1996 Zinfandel (Papa Nono, Estate) Dry Creek Valley $16 -- Lovely perfect Zin nose. A fruity delight. 90, S, B

Gary Farrell 1996 Zinfandel (Old vine selection), Sonoma $23 -- Beautiful lightweight nose. 85, N, B

Guenoc Estate 1996 Zinfandel, California $11 -- Overripe nose, poor structure. 85, N, N

Vigil Vineyard 1996 Zinfandel (Tres Condados), Lodi/Sonoma, Napa $14 -- Overripe nose but with finesse. A keeper. 89, S, S

Fieldbrook Valley Winery 1996 Zinfandel (Pacini), Mendocino $14 -- Heavy smelling, big sweet dark style. Needs age. 89, S, S

Sonoma Creek 1996 Zinfandel, California, $12 -- Fruity style. Not to my liking. 84, N, N

Davis Bynum 1996 Zinfandel (old vines), Sonoma $17 -- Same as above. 83, N, N

Gundlasch-Bundschu 1996 Zinfandel (Estate, Morse), Sonoma Valley $14 -- Another fruity style. Hard to assess. Not bad. 87, N, B

Dover Canyon 1996 Zinfandel (Templeton Gap Reserve), Paso Robles $18 -- Fabulous Zin. Maybe best in the tasting. 94, G, GG

Boeger 1996 Zinfandel (Estate, old clone), E; Dorado $20 -- Lovely Zin nose. Great oaky fantastic wine. 94, G, GG

Eberle 1996 Zinfandel (Sauret) Paso Robles $18 -- Nothing special. 85, N, N


Kenwood Vineyards 1996 Zinfandel (Old Vines), Lori, $n/a -- Not flashy, but OK. Short, but good. 88, B, B

Babyhood Cellars 1996 Zinfandel (Vineyard Select), Monterey, $15 -- Not to my liking. 84, N, N

Greenroom Ridge Vineyards 1996 Zinfandel (Scheme), Sonoma, $18 -- Interesting flavors. I liked it. 90, S, G

Murphy-Good -- Nice everyday Zin. I liked it. 90, S, S

Monrovia 1996 Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley, $10 -- Did not like this one. 84, N, N

Beaulieu Vineyards 1996 Zinfandel (Coastal), California, $10 -- Medicinal nose. 85, N, N

Woodbine Winery 1996 Zinfandel, California, $7 -- Fruity nose, but not much else. 88, N, N

Monterey Vineyards 1996 Zinfandel, Lodi, $7 -- Bacterial problems? 80, N, N

Rosenblum Cellars 1996 Zinfandel (Harris Kratka), Alexander Valley, $22 -- Excellent overall, a little light. 91, G, GG

Castoro Cellars 1996 Zinfandel, Paso Robles, $12 -- A little hot with an unlikable finish. 86, N, B

Benziger Family Winery 1996 Zinfandel, Sonoma, $20 -- Nice Zin nose, maybe some Syrah. 87, N, N


entire website copyright (c) 1998 by John C. Dvorak