We like turnarounds, and one of the wineries we noticed that had stepped up quality in the past go-round of reviews is Mazzocco, based in Sonoma’s intersection of Dry Creek and Alexander valleys.
All four of Mazzocco’s 2005 Zinfandels hit the jackpot in our blind tastings and I say "we" and "our" because Tim Fish, my colleague and associate editor, is now covering the lion’s share of Zinfandel reviews, and he first came to notice the improvement.
What we found is that the new wines—the Maple ($36, 450 cases), Stone ($27, 570 cases), Pony ($27, 490 cases) and West Dry Creek ($27, 600 cases)—are riper, fleshier and more complex than previous vintages, and all are exceptional examples of this grape from these appellations, which are known as Zinfandel sweet spots.
The West Dry Creek is both rich and polished, offering more finesse than this grape typically achieves. The Stone is ultraripe, touching on jammy, but also marked by spicy, peppery scents.
The Pony serves up a range of black raspberry, dill, pepper and tar, while the Maple, which has been used in wines made by other wineries, shows off briary blackberry and jammy notes that push ripeness without going overboard.
Ken and Diane Wilson bought the winery, founded in 1984 by a cataract surgeon, in 2005. They also own the nearby Wilson winery and have grown grapes in Sonoma County for more than 20 years, farming more than 250 acres of wine grapes.
Mazzocco produces about 15,000 cases annually. While Zinfandel is the main focus, the winery also makes Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Bordeaux blend called Matrix.
The winemaker is Antoine Favero, who was born in the Champagne region of France, and has worked on the winemaking teams at Sebastiani, Gundlach Bundschu, Bartholomew Park and Wilson. Favero replaced Phyllis Zouzounis, who had been winemaker and general manager at Mazzocco for 12 years before the Wilsons bought it.
While past vintages were often good but inconsistent, this winery is now on our to watch list.
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — December 18, 2007 6:42pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — December 18, 2007 6:48pm ET
David Nelson — CA — December 19, 2007 2:51pm ET
Micah Lachtman — Los Angeles, CA — December 20, 2007 2:45am ET
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