Posted: June 30, 2012
Posted: June 13, 2012 By Tim Fish
How can you not like a wine region called Rockpile? The name alone brings up all sorts of images, of prehistoric-style rugged countrysides or chain gangs busting stones in the godforsaken sun. The reality of the place is not all that different from that. Rockpile is a rustic landscape and a distinctive place that makes equally distinctive red wines, particularly Zinfandel and Syrah. Some of the wineries that make wine from the region's fruit include Carol Shelton, JC Cellars, Seghesio, St. Francis and Valdez Family.
That day, people were practically crawling across the Meadowood lawn like it was the sandy Mojave in search of something cool and refreshing. And all they could find was Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Warm Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. They could have raised $100,000 on a single chilled bottle of rosé that day. I would have chipped in.
Posted: May 30, 2012 By Tim Fish
Zinfandel has gotten more expensive in recent years, there's no arguing that. Zin vines will crank out buckets of wishy-washy juice if you let them, but it takes effort and time and money to make great Zin.
That's particularly true with the 2010 and 2011 vintages, in which Zin makers faced every plague but locust. Good Zins from those vintages selling for less than $15 or $20 a bottle will be few and far. In my annual report, "Zinfandel Elegance" in the June 30 issue of Wine Spectator, I was so concerned about the challenges and quality of those vintages that I didn't give readers enough good advice on value.
Consider this the makeup test.
Posted: April 9, 2012 By Tim Fish
One of California's best sweet spots for great old-vine Zinfandel is a remote little valley in western Russian River not far from Forestville. The best-known vineyard there is Jackass Hill, which was first planted in 1889 and is notably bottled by Martinelli Winery.
Just down the hill, and once part of the original Giuseppe Martinelli ranch, is the 18-acre Martinelli Road Vineyard. It's not nearly as well known as Jackass Hill, but Turley bottled it under the Rancho Burro designation for many years, and Mike Officer at Carlisle launched a single-vineyard Martinelli Road in 2009, which I rated 94 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale. Last week, the McWilliams family of Arista Winery purchased the vineyard for an undisclosed sum. It sounds like the vineyard is in good hands.
Posted: April 4, 2012 By Tim Fish
Back in the mid 1990s, there were three kings of California Zinfandel, the Three Rs we called them: Ravenswood, Ridge and Rosenblum. The snotty young punk in Zintown was Turley. Fast-forward almost 20 years and things have sure changed. The Three Rs continue to make fine Zinfandels—Ridge most frequently—but only Turley is on top of its game."
That's my takeaway after tasting through the winery's most-recent releases. I've been drinking Turley since the first vintage, 1993, and, taken as a group, these are some of the best Zinfandels that Turley has made. The group included 2009s from the winery's top single vineyards as well as early-release 2010 from its value-oriented blends.
Posted: March 19, 2012 By Tim Fish
Posted: February 27, 2012 By Tim Fish
Posted: February 1, 2012 By Tim Fish
Wine Spectator associate editor Tim Fish attended the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) Festival in San Francisco this past weekend. It was an opportunity for him to get a first impression of the difficult 2010 vintage, as well as taste more wines from the outstanding 2009 vintage. Here are his notes from the festival and scores for his top 10 favorite wines.
Posted: January 11, 2012 By Tim Fish
Winemaker Jeff Cohn was the man behind Rosenblum’s stellar Zinfandels during that winery’s heyday, so when he launched his own winery, JC Cellars, he focused almost exclusively on Syrah and other Rhône varietals.
“I wanted some separation,” says Cohn, who launched his winery with his wife, Alexandra, in 1996 and departed Rosenblum in 2006. “But I missed Zin, and I feel like the water has cleared enough that I can do what I want to do.”
The sluggish sales of California Rhône wines played a role no doubt, but I’ve always thought Cohn had a gift for Zin, so I’m glad to see him returning to his roots. And his new releases from the 2009 vintage certainly prove the point.
Posted: January 5, 2012 By Kim Marcus
Posted: January 4, 2012
Posted: November 28, 2011 By Tim Fish
Posted: November 21, 2011 By Tim Fish
Posted: November 15, 2011 By Tim Fish
Posted: October 24, 2011 By MaryAnn Worobiec
Posted: September 23, 2011 By Tim Fish
Posted: August 24, 2011 By Tim Fish
Zinfandel ages well.
There! I said it. You wanna make something of it? Huh?
Because I’m not flapping my gums just for the breeze. I have proof. Sure, folks will tell you that Zin won’t get better with age, that you should drink them fast before all that snazzy fresh fruit fades into oblivion.
BLTs for me are in the same wine-pairing pool as a hamburger with all the fixings. You can’t simply be guided by one ingredient; there’s a potpourri of flavors and textures to consider, from sweet and acidic to smoky and creamy.
Posted: August 10, 2011 By Tim Fish
Whenever I write about the Sierra Foothills, I always call Bill Easton because he’ll tell you what he thinks, not what you want to hear. In these salad days of online news media, the rule seems to be “decide the story first, then fill in the blanks.” Chalk it up to my nights covering mayhem and BS at a daily newspaper, but I like being thrown a curve ball. That’s when you learn something.
Easton took umbrage—and he’s an umbrage taker from way back—when I said the Foothills were like the Finger Lakes and Long Island wine regions in New York, well-regarded by those in the know but largely undiscovered by the wine masses. He asked: Why compare? “Bordeaux may be like Napa may be like Barossa Valley may be like Stellenbosch.” Easton said. “It is what it is.”
Posted: August 3, 2011 By Tim Fish
Note to self: Whenever you hear someone grumble that California lacks the wine pedigree of Europe, remember the day you walked through San Lorenzo vineyard with Pete Seghesio and his boys.
It was one of those mid-summer Sonoma County mornings when the fog scares off early and the heat rises at you like exhaust from the dirt. Joe and Will were chasing each other in ATVs around the outskirts of the vines as Pete showed me the oldest patch of grapes in San Lorenzo, a 7-acre parcel near the Russian River in Alexander Valley.
"The deed for the ranch goes back to 1896," said Seghesio, whose great-grandfather Frank Passalacqua paid 10 gold coins for it. The copy of the deed is framed on the wall of his house, which overlooks the vineyard, and it refers to "seven acres of young vines."
Posted: June 30, 2011 By Tim Fish
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