Recommendations

Quivira, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2008As I’ve blogged here before, Zinfandel is the first variety that truly spoke to me and put me on the road to the wine geek I am today. And I can recall that the bottle that flipped the switch was an estate Zin from the Lytton Springs Winery from the late 1970’s. This wine was an old vine field blend led by Zinfandel but also inter-planted with Petite Sirah, Carignane, Mataro and Grenache. Today this vineyard produces the Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel I’ve reviewed here in the past.

Down the road a piece, across the one-lane Lambert bridge, is another winery who makes fine Zinfandel; Quivira. I’ve driven past this winery on my rounds in Dry Creek for work but have never stopped in for a tasting. I think the next time I’m in the area, just a day away, I might make this trip on the strength of their entry level bottling reviewed here.

Quivira is committed to biodynamic farming and no matter how you come down on this practice the wine here demonstrates that good things come from non-intervention. While I might be skeptical of the mystical elements of the biodynamic way, I am totally behind the stewardship of the land key to its practice.

Tasting Notes:

Quivira Vineyards and Winery, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2008 – ($20/sample) – Dark purple color with aromas of bramble, sage, fennel and tobacco. Plush plum and raspberry flavors with black pepper and mint finishing with moderate tannins and good acidity for a Zin. Textbook Dry Creek Zin at a great price.

14.8% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 89

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Inman Family, Pinot Noir, Thorn Ridge Ranch 2007

by Tim Elliott on January 21, 2011

Inman Family Pinot Noir 2007Every time I visit Northern California’s wine country, I discover a new producer who surprises me. Early on my current trip, while based in Sonoma County, I enjoyed an outstanding Pinot Noir from Inman Family. The winery concentrates on small-lot production of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. Founded by Kathleen and Simon Inman, both leaving careers in finance and law in the UK to follow their passion for wine, relocated to Sonoma County in 2000. After this first experience with Inman Family I am looking forward to tasting their other wines ASAP.

Tasting Notes:

Inman Family, Pinot Noir, Thorn Ridge Ranch, Russian River Valley 2007 ($52) – Dark ruby in color with aromas of black raspberry, sage, bay and wet earth. Rich and pure black raspberry fruit on the attack with cocoa and black tea. Very nice acidity and fine tannins finishing very long. A pretty Pinot that will improve with a year or two in the cellar.

14.2%
Screw cap closure
Rating: ★★★★☆
Score: 92

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Jean Farris Winery “Tempest” 2007

by Tim Elliott on January 16, 2011

Tempest bottleYou never know where the next emerging wine State will be here in the U.S. but if this wine is representative of the wines coming out of Kentucky these days, this might be the place. Given as a gift from the parents of a friend of my son visiting over the holiday break, the wine is a blend of Spanish and French varieties grown near Lexington, Kentucky. Since the winery also makes Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, Eastern Kentucky must have a more extended growing season than other States in the region. Indeed, the most surprising thing for me about this wine was how big it is, both in fruit concentration and in alcohol.

There’s not a lot written about Jean Farris winery aside from their website and a few other blogger notes (I think I’m the first to review Tempest). But I think you will hear more from this winery given the quality of the wine here. The rather unconventional blend of Tempranillo works well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. I hope to have the chance to sample some of their other wines soon.

Tasting Notes:

Jean Farris Winery, “Tempest”, Red Wine, Kentucky 2007 ($35) – A blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Garnet in color with aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, sage and cedar. Bold blackberry fruit with cassis, white pepper and vanilla finishing with moderate tannins, nice acidity and just a hint of heat. Shows that world class wine can be made in the land of Bourbon.

14.3%ABV
Synthetic cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 87

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Rodney Strong, "Symmetry", Meritage 2007

For a long time now the Rodney Strong brand has stood for value regularly over delivering in their price category. Whether it’s their entry $18 Cabernet or their single-vineyard, allocated Rockaway bottling, when you see Rodney Strong on the label you can be assured you will get some thing interesting in the glass. The house style is to create round and harmonious wines with loads of sweet fruit surrounded by toasty French oak.

Their “Symmetry” Meritage is a Cabernet Sauvignon led wine that could have been labeled as this variety since it makes up 85% of the blend. But the winemaking team is aiming higher here producing a Bordeaux style blend from several vineyard sources in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. The addition of traditional blending grapes Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot adds to the complexity in the aromas and flavors, elevating what would be a very nice Cabernet to another level. My only concern was the rather generous French oak treatment which will likely work itself out with further aging.

Tasting Notes:

Rodney Strong, “Symmetry”, Meritage Red Wine, Alexander Valley 2007 ($55/sample) –  A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 3% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Very deep purple in color with complex aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, cigar box, sage and black licorice. Bold and rich blackcurrant and blackberry flavors with cassis and black pepper finishing with toasty oak and firm tannins. Decant for 2-3 hours now or put in the cellar for 5-7 years. Delicious, if a bit over-oaked, at this point but I expect this to integrate as it ages.

15.1% ABV
Natural cork closure
Score: 91
Rating: ★★★★☆

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Snooth listing