Great Sonoma Zinfandels at ZAP Festival 2011

Including the Zins of Dry Creek Valley


For the past two weeks, I've run through many of the wines that will be featured at this week's ZAP Zinfandal Festival, which starts today and runs to Saturday, January 29.

I took some heat earlier, since people failed to read the lead-in to hear about how the wines in A Sneak Peek at ZAP Festival Zinfandels were specifically not the Zins from the most famous Zin regions. Last week, I gave you Zins from Alexander and Russian River Valleys in Sneak Preview: Sonoma Zinfandels at ZAP Festival. And now, finally, here are the top Dry Creek Valley Zins, plus the best of the bunch from AV and RRV!

If you're headed off to ZAP, you are in for a real treat. There are going to be some dynamite wines there. These are just my personal favorites, with a ton of great wines from some of Sonoma's finest producers. Let me just finish by giving a shout-out to Talty, Wilson Estate and Brazin. You all brought the goods and are the three wineries to earn more than one place on my top of ZAP lists! If you can visit only three tables, those would be my choices.

2007 Talty Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel William Talty Vineyards 15.0%, $38

Spicy and briary on the nose, with chocolate and earth topped by crushed blackberry fruit, topped by notes of smoke, toast, pumpkin pie spice and a rather vibrant floral scent. Lovely balance in the mouth, with bright acidity and lovely, round, soft tannins supporting notably fresh blackberry, black raspberry and cherry fruit. This is slightly chewy but very fresh and transparent, with compellingly fresh and vivid fruit flavors. Excellent balance really allows this to float across the palate and onto a bright, very red-fruited, succulent finish with excellent resonance to the fruit that is accented by a subtle licorice tone. 93pts

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2008 Wilson Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Sawyer Vineyard 15.2%, $30

Intense and extract on the nose exuding essence of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. This is packed with brambly briary berry fruits, soil tones, and light licorice and baking spice notes all topped with a floral nuance. In the mouth this is powerful and chewy, with a touch of hoisin right up front, which is followed by powerful, rich waves of herb-inflected blackberry and jammy strawberry fruit. There are significant tannins here and a nice lashing of vanilla and subtler wood spice but everything is in gorgeous proportion. Even though the wine is large-scaled it’s wonderfully aromatic and fairly transparent. The finish closes in a bit due to the tannin and a touch of heat, but the fruit -- focused and lean -- powers through the tannin, ending with a jammy red cherry note and aromatic floral and herb tones. Fabulous Zin. 93pts

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2008 Wilson Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Ken’s Reserve 15.7% $60

Nicely integrated oak on the nose with fine vanilla tones framing the crisp, if slightly baked, black fruit. There are really nice floral and herbal elements that emerge with air, yet remain just under the intensity of the fruit. Smells a little alcoholic. Really focused in the mouth, a bit low amplitude but with a vibrant feel, if a touch on the heavier side, though this is not sticky or at all opaque. Richly fruited and packed with vibrant strawberry, raspberry and blackberry fruit all supported by fresh little tannins. Considering the alcohol, this is downright restrained, with superb balance that keeps the alcohol in check until the very last hint of the finish. Super wine. 92pts

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2009 Wine Guerrilla Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Adel’s Vineyard 14.7% $30

Lovely perfumed nose of brambly black raspberry fruit gently accented with vanilla, spice and soil notes. With air, notes of pencil shavings and crushed wildflowers add detail. Relatively light-bodied in the mouth and very freshly flavored with juicy, crisp notes of crushed black raspberry with hint of cherry and blueberry. The wine is brilliantly transparent in the mouth and wonderfully open. On the backend this gains a nice soil tone and reveals good aromatics on the spicy, briary finish. A fruit-driven wine in the best sense of the word. 92pts

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2009 Mauritson Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 15.1%, $25

Really briary on the nose with crisp, fresh black raspberry and black currant fruit, topped with notes of pipe tobacco, tomato leaf and a hint of POG (passion/orange/guava). With air, the fruit turns redder, full of cherries and a hint of cranberry, but at the same time the oak become more assertive as well. This is really love in the mouth. It’s restrained at this point but you can get a sense of the great depth of fruit and purity the wine possesses. There is nice supporting acidity that lends a zesty edge to the mid-palate and wonderful ripe tannins adding weight across the mid-palate. The wood tannin does become more obvious on the backend but it remains well balanced. 91pts


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2007 Brazin Sonoma Valley Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard 15%, $20

Assertively oaky with dark bittersweet chocolate and mocha notes paired with slightly jammy wild blackberry fruit. This is dark, brooding and aggressively scented with some beefy, bloody undertones and a vaguely floral top note. Big but not hugely varietal. Broad, flush and wide open in the mouth with superbly managed tannins and finely integrated acidity. This is endowed with almost syrupy black berry and black cherry flavors, but the wine remains vibrant and relatively lightweight in the mouth. Super-fresh and well balanced. The oak pops a bit on the finish with black cherry fruit edged with cola and spice notes. Really is verging on silky; wonderfully managed wine. 91pts

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2007 Brazin Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Old Vine 14.5%, $20

Sweet yet balanced toasty oak notes and ripe black cherry fruit are accented by hint of pomegranate, white pepper and crushed flowers. Rich and full in the mouth, with layered tannins and really vibrant acidity lending this a particularly bright feel. The tannins are still a bit aggressive but the wonderful pool of fresh strawberry and raspberry fruit balances the structure well. There’s a little cocoa on the backend and the tannins do turn a bit woodier and spicier on the finish, but this is really wonderfully put together. Freaking delicious. 91pts

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  • Snooth User: Seabrooker
    167088 54

    We loved the Wilson Zins when we went tasting in November, but our favorites on that trip were all from Amador/Shenandoah- Wilderotter, Bonjon, Runquist and Convergence. These may not make to the ZAP festival, but anyone going anywhere close should take the time to explore this area.

    Jan 27, 2011 at 3:53 PM


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