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Snooth User: Rhone Guzzler

Greetings to all wine lovers from the Neterlands

Posted by Rhone Guzzler, Jun 30, 2009.

Cool Wine site this is.

I found all my favourate wines and wine makers here, amazing.

My avater is the logo of the wine-club I am a member of. We come together once a week to taste new wines and we go on wine trips regularly. The las one was in the Rhône region.

By my screen name you can see that I am perticularly fond of Rhône wines (My real name is Olaf btw). . But also Languedoc, Tuscany and the Valpolicella region are among my favourates. I do hope one of regulars can point me in the direction of good non-European wine, because I never had one.

I added a photo of myself in action (the one holding th box)

Btw: I did visit a hair dresser since :-)


Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2009.

Welcome, Olaf. Lots of excellent California wine talked about here, from Napa, Sonoma and other locales. Also Oregon and Washington and other areas in the US, as well as Australia and New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, South Africa and others.

Why don't you give some particulars about what you're interested in? I'm sure recommendations will pour in.


Reply by Rhone Guzzler, Jul 3, 2009.

Thank you

Can you recommend me a good Californian Zin then ?

Reply by dmcker, Jul 3, 2009.

A good starting point might be those from Ridge. Try their Lytton Springs and Geyserville labels. Both Zin-based blends that have been consistently good over the years...

Reply by GregT, Jul 4, 2009.

Hi Olaf.

Ridge is always the first recommendation. That's because they were among the first to treat zinfandel with the same respect that everyone accords cabernet sauvignon, because they elected to use vineyard designations and bottle specific vineyard blends, and because they consistently make great zinfandel-based wines that can age for many years. Those two above are their most famous. Both are named for their vineyards and consist of a blend of several varieties. If you can find it over there, try the Three Valleys. It's a blend of several vineyards and much cheaper and in several blind tastings I've put it in with other zins from Ridge and elsewhere, it's come out on top. They're just good winemakers.

Ravenswood is also producing a number of specific vineyard zins. Teldeschi, for example. They tend to be bigger in style than Ridge, and they can be quite good. Maybe don't age as well. Rosenblum is probably the leader in selecting specific plots and vinifying. He's maybe a little like a negociant - gets grapes from different vineyards and bottles each separately. The wines are hit or miss - sometimes really good, sometimes less so.

Downing Family makes a really smooth, ripe, but not alcoholic zin if you can ever find it.

The big names today, largely because of the prices, are Martinelli and Turley. Those can be fairly expensive. They are made in a super-ripe, big style and drink somewhere like the middle ground between table wine and fortified wine, and they don't appear to age too well, at least those I've had. Seems to be about as far as you can push zinfandel and interesting for academic purposes.

Don't overlook Beaulieu Vineyards. They are a big operation and produce a number of wines at every price point, but they did have a decent zinfandel in their "Signet" series. I don't know if they still make it as I have'nt had it for a few years, but it was a slightly more restrained and lighter style, which is basically their approach to all wines.

Other than Downing, those I've mentioned tend to be widely available. There are many producers, but some may be more difficult to find than others.

And for further education, try some primitivo from Italy. There aren't too many "great" ones, but a very nice wine is A-Mano, which is produced by an American ex-patriate. It's exactly what more zinfandel should be - a "peasant" wine, not too expensive, very enjoyable, friendly, and good young. There are a number of producers these days so you might want to try some of those, since that's what became zinfandel in the US. Originally it wasn't even Italian but it's pretty certain that the grape got to California via the Italian immigrants.

And try a couple from Australia. They're making pretty good zinfandel if you can find it. And it's surprisingly in a lighter style than the Americans. I guess that they figured they didn't want to copy our zin any more than they wanted to copy the Rhone syrah. Brilliant winemakers.

BTW, it's funny that you like Rhone wines and elected to try zinfandel. There is a real family resemblance and it makes perfect sense, even though zin isn't grown in the Rhone.

Reply by Rhone Guzzler, Jul 9, 2009.

Thank you for your sugestions.
I tried to find them localy, did find a guy that imports most wines from ridge vinyards, but he was currently out of stock
Beaulieu Vineyards I could only find a single Cab-Sav.

My local wine store did have a Nalle Zin from Sanoma. Would that be any good ?

I gues Californian wines are hard to come by here since the US only has a market share of 4%, which will mainly consist of Gallo and Mondavi....

Btw: The Geyserville costs more then a 4th cru Bordeauxor a Beaucastel. I hope it will be worth it ;-). I Think I will start with a Ravenswood which I managed to find.

Thank for your all your sugestions, I will let you know what I thought of it.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 9, 2009.

Direct comparisons of different grapes are tricky, but Ridge zins have provided me every bit as much presence and pleasure as many 4th or even higher growths. It is unfortunate the prices are so high since Ridge is one of the established, 'great' California wineries that has managed to keep its prices in check, and relatively reasonable, over the years. Maybe if you and others drum up more demand in Holland the prices may end up dropping? ;-)

Ravenswood has several different vineyard-specific and other versions of their Zin, so be sure to pay attention to which version it is you are purchasing and drinking. I find their styles and my satisfaction do change a bit across the range of those versions...

Reply by dmcker, Jul 9, 2009.

Perhaps you should also look into online purchasing options from merchants in California or elsewhere in the US. It might be that, even after shipping costs and any import duties, you'll find bottles purchased that way to be cheaper than those from your local wineshops.

Reply by Rhone Guzzler, Aug 3, 2009.

Well, that could work, but that would mean that I need to order at least 12 bottles. I'll try 1 one first and keep your advice in mind when I like it.

Reply by dmcker, Aug 4, 2009.

If you keep looking I imagine you'll find many (if not most?) online merchants that ship in less than 12-bottle batches. I've heard some quote a six-bottle minimum requirement for futures purchases, but otherwise have never been hit with any kind of minimum order demand. I tend to want to buy more than a bottle or two when I order because a) I like drinking good wine regularly and go through several bottles a week on average, year in and year out ;-), and b) the shipping costs become a higher proportion of the bottle cost when making a small order. However I have placed two or three bottle orders on several occasions.

I know that these places have carried Ridge wines, and ship internationally, since I've used them personally:
Napa Valley Winery Exchange in San Francisco
Blicker Pierce Wagner Wine Merchants in Napa

NPWE is smaller, but located in a strategic position near Union Sq. in San Francisco, so gets interesting customer walkins. BPE is more a specialist in older, higher-value, difficult-to-find wines, but both of them are carrying Ridge Lytton Springs right now for prices just above $30 per bottle. You should ask them about shipping particulars...

I'm sure there are many other merchants you might use on the US East Coast or elsewhere. You can start by looking at the Snooth list of merchants, or otherwise do a Google search...


Reply by Wilhelm M, May 19, 2010.

I am very fond of South African wines. They seem to be great value.

What do you thing of SA wines? 


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