Wine Wednesday – California Old Vine Zinfandel

Two Zinfandels for Wine Wednesday.


Hmmm, not sure I’m a fan of Zinfandel.  However, I’m intrigued about the grape and wanted to see what I think about Zin.

We tried 2 Zinfandels, both old vine.

From the winery:

2007 Zinfandel Carreras Old Vine Dry Creek Valley
The 2007 Carreras Ranch Old Vine  Zinfandel is produced from the heart of the  Carreras vineyard. The grapes are tended to  by Rick Schluter, husband to Marci Carreras  Schluter. Rick is the consummate grape  grower, a haggler, a prophet and yes a poet.
This wine exhibits  Cabernet like structure,  big stature, deep color, and deep  concentrated fruit. Elegant iron fist in a  smooth velvet glove. Enjoy this  Classic  Jammy Dry Creek Zinfandel on its own or  pair with beef, lamb or pork.
Manzanita Creek Zinfandels are among the  finest wines produced.  We age our  Zinfandels in carefully chosen oak barrels for  18 to 32 months. Our attention to detail is  matchless.  (ABV 16.9%)

From the winery:

2006 Zinfandel, Martinelli Road Vineyard Old Vine, Russian River

History in a bottle. The venerable one, 124 years old this vintage. Not for everyone, but a classic Barolo like Zin that rivals any century vine Zins produced in California, period. Dark ruby in color. A nose of roses and violets framed by dark berries, plums, cedar and blackberry briar as only RRV can give. The palate screams blackberry, Bing cherry, dark chocolate and mocha notes. Unmistakable terroir. This is a special place for these vines. Not for the faint of heart. Expressive mid-palate and long, long finish. Moderate tannins. It will of course benefit from cellaring, but it’s delicious now.

Opinion: My jury’s still out on Zinfandel.  I enjoyed the Woodenhead Zin more than the Manzanita Creek — both of them were old vine and unfiltered.  Not knowing this, we didn’t have a decanting filter.  Sediment is not attractive.

The Manzanita Creek Zinfandel was an alcohol bomb at 17%!  It was well-liked by one of my co-workers.

I think the price of both wines was too high for my level of enjoyment.  Also think I have a few more bottles of each in my cellar ….. another tasting in my future?  Let’s see if time changes my opinion.

Any Zinfandel suggestions?

Wine Wednesday – Amani Kenie Myers

Tonight’s wine is a step out of my comfort zone — a South African red.   I had to try the wine once I read that the winemaker is one of South Africa’s first black female winemakers.

If I’m honest, I’m also a sucker for Cabernet Franc.  It is my favorite grape and I’m usually up for trying one.

I knew I would love this wine as soon as I uncorked it — the aroma coming from the bottle was amazing — blackberries, blueberries and alcohol.  The alcohol content is high, 14.5%, which makes food essential with this.  I felt a buzz after the 1st glass. (could be dangerous?)

It didn’t disappoint.  Ripe fruit, cinnamon, hint of tannin.  Very smooth.   Can’t wait to have the 2nd bottle!

2009 Amani Coastal Region Cabernet Franc-Merlot

Tasting Note This wine has pitch-perfect vibrancy for those who enjoy the yin-and-yang qualities of punchy acidity in rich red wines. The nose on the 2009 Amani Cabernet Franc-Merlot bursts with lusciously ripe berry fruit that smells like a freshly baked blackberry pie. Secondary aromas of cracked black pepper, cinnamon and cocoa emerge underneath the crust and filling. The palate is equally dense with fresh berry flavors up front that lead to sweet baking-spice flavors, the results of the wine’s time in new French oak. The supple tannins follow through on the silky finish. This is an impressively polished wine that is ready to be enjoyed now or in the next 10 years.

Wine Wednesday – Silver Oak

1999 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet
1998 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet

Wine Wednesday with my friends and co-workers is typically fair or medium-priced wine.  Tonight’s wine was special (ok, pricey).  It was the 1998 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the 1999 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  I hoped to get the same year but no such luck.

The wines were different and fantastic.  Expectations were high, given the price.

The 1998 Napa Cab reminded me of a carnival — there was cotton candy, apples, fresh hay on the nose.  Initially, there was a lot of tannin in the long finish but after 2 hours, the tannins mellowed considerably.   We were put off by the rust brown tint in the color once poured.  Was it past its peak?  No, it was delicious.

The 1999 Alexander Cab was floral and fruity — intense berries, especially.  Velvety smooth.  Its color was deep garnet, the quintessential wine color.

Both wines were full bodied with long finishes.  Quite a special night.

From the winery:

1998 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1998 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


The 1998 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has a dark ruby color. It has a nose of blackberry, nutmeg and chocolate. This wine is elegant on the palate and bursting with blackberry fruit and has an extremely long finish with chewy tannins. This Cabernet will continue to improve until 2020 given proper cellaring.

Composition: 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot


1999 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1999 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


The 1999 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a beautifully balanced wine with a garnet color and a complex nose of cassis, ripe figs, rose petals and Asian spices. It has a lovely, fruity attack, a luscious mid-palate and an incredibly long, lingering finish. It will continue to improve to 2026 given proper cellaring.

Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon


Here I am — day 2 of my North Carolina drive trip.  I am in Tennessee, heading to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, no schedule, no plan, 100 degrees outside and I’m cruising in my black Nissan Sentra!

I don’t like mountain driving so what the heck was I doing?  I live in California, have driven in California, Colorado, Nevada and Utah …. surely Tennessee can’t be that bad.   It was.  Getting to the National Park involved lots of ups and downs on steep highways.   I pulled off the road often to let cars pass.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

But again I wasn’t in a hurry and had no plan.

I spent the afternoon in the park, hiking and sightseeing in the town of Cherokee.  It’s home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Museum.   The  Museum is worth a trip!

It dispassionately presents the history of the Cherokee and offers something for children and adults.

My  next surprise drive through was Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  What a gorgeous town, even as it’s overrun with tourists.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Would I go back?  Absolutely.  it’s gorgeous, rustic and surrounded by the Smoky Mountains.  Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood (who knew?)  and I decided to go.  Except as I’m driving toward Dollywood, I hear storm warnings on the radio.  When I arrive at the park, the parking folks told me the park was closing because of the coming storms.

Disappointed?  Yup but I continued on, this time opting to drive on to Knoxville.  And the proverbial c**p hit the fan as I neared Knoxville.   The skies grew dark (really dark) and as I neared Knoxville, the wind picked up.  I had a great recommendation for a bbq place in Knoxville and was heading there.  Until I exited downtown Knoxville and tree limbs, leaves, and trash cans were blowing around.

Oh maybe I don’t need to drive around Knoxville, maybe I should I continue driving.  So I did.

The dark skies opened up and the downpour started.  It was more than a downpour, it was torrential rain along with thunder and lightning.  Lightning that hit trees on the side of the road and started a fire.  Yup, saw that.

Being headstrong, I planned to continue on but I could barely see 5 feet in front of my car.  When 5 truckers exited the highway at one time, I followed them.  If truckers weren’t willing to drive on, I certainly wasn’t.

Later I heard on the 10p news there were 2 deaths in the park due to flash flooding in the National Park and extensive damage in Knoxville from the severe storms.  The thought suddenly flashed in my mind — no one knows where I am!  It was probably time for me to head east and check in with family.

But first I enjoyed a bottle of wine.

Bodega Elena de Mendoza Malbec

Delicious!  Best $9 spent on wine.   It made sitting in my Motel 6 room pleasant.

I’d like to say I dutifully headed east to family.  Maybe next time.  While I did head east, I saw a brochure for Chimey Rock   and decided to detour.

Brochure of Chimney Rock

The 2.5 miles up the narrow winding mountain road to reach the park left me shaking in the knees.  My Sentra wasn’t meant to climb up steep hills even if I had the gas to the floor.  Fear of mountain driving exploded.

I spent the afternoon there for several reasons — the hiking and the views are magnificant!  And the elevator.  Yup, elevator!  A 26-story elevator built in the mountain!

 And, um, I wasn’t ready to drive down the mountain.  I needed to work up my courage and game plan because on the down I was on the outside.  Yeah, the side next to the cliff.

It took me 1/2-hour to get down and I drove in the middle of road most of the way down.  Yeah I need to work on this fear.  next trip

Wine Wednesday – What’s in the Bottle 06/20/2012

2004 Principe Corsini Tenuta Marsiliana Toscana IGT


The Marsiliana is made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and comes from Maremma, on Tuscany’s coast. The 2004 vintage was graced with near-perfect weather and resulted in wines of great concentration, complexity and longevity.

The wine shows dark cherry red with edges lightening up slightly.  My initial whiff gave me cassis, dark berries (boysenberry/blackberries), smokke and something earthy (herbal? vegetal?).   Second whiff confirmed that earthiness — green pepper to me.

I fell in love upon tasting it.   It tastes more merlot than cabernet sauvignon — modern, silky and food-friendly.  The sediment  (should’ve decanted) gives it more of a dirt flavor than I think it truly has.   Soft tannins and a silky finish make this a very easy drinking wine.  Medium-bodied without a long finish.

I’d pair this with Pecorino cheese, proscuitto and crackers but I also enjoyed a glass by itself.  Let’s see how it tastes tomorrow!