Top 100 Wines: Zinfandel and Other RedsDecember 5, 2014 Updated: December 5, 2014 12:05am
These, more than any others, are the wines with which the West Coast is forging its modern wine identity.....
...2013 Bedrock The Bedrock Heritage Sonoma Valley Red ($42, 14.6%): This wine remains a perennial strength in Morgan Twain-Peterson’s lineup, with good reason. In his quest to find sites with true California heritage, Twain-Peterson hit the mother lode; Bedrock as it stands was largely planted in 1888 by Sen. George Hearst. The latest, a mix of Zinfandel, Carignane and myriad interspersed varieties, may be the most polished yet: dusty and showing bark and pennyroyal aromas, with a knot of tarry black fruit and complex hues of berry flavor.
2012 Bow & Arrow Rhinestones Willamette Valley Red ($23, 13%): Portlanders Dana and Scott Frank have a very different view of Oregon’s wine inspirations: France’s Loire, rather than Burgundy. There’s good argument behind that, and good evidence in this blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir. Brimming with celery seed, pinecone and tart plum fruit, it’s just rustic enough to serve as a savvy link between the Loire and the Northwest.
2012 Calder Colombini Vineyard Redwood Valley Carignane ($28, 13.4%): A great California lineage at work — Rory Williams, son of John Williams (Frog’s Leap) tapping a 1942 planting in the eastern Mendocino bench — and a grape with a deep, if not fancy, history. The result is memorable, with a balance of flavors that great Carignane can provide: a perfect toasted celery-seed aspect on the nose, with fir sprigs, robust plum flavors and a fullness of fruit on the palate that’s just ripe enough, plus a mineral tang below.
2012 Carlisle Montafi Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel ($46, 15.4%): Mike Officer is one of the most serious students of California’s old vines, and this blend of Zinfandel with various “mixed blacks” (Alicante, Peloursin, so on) is a perfect specimen of his work with old vineyards — in this case an 88-year-old site just west of Santa Rosa. For its size, it brims with dried flowers, savory wood and creamy blue fruit (think blueberry compote) of the sort you find in Russian River Zin. Utterly pleasing.
2012 Dashe Ancient Vines Bedrock Vineyard Sonoma Valley Red ($35, 14.1%): No surprise that two wines from this site near Kenwood appear here. What’s fascinating here is the interpreter: Michael Dashe, a perennial voice of Zinfandel restraint. A mix of Carignane, Zinfandel and Mourvedre, it’s a standout even amid the typically strong Dashe lineup — full of lavender, dust, matcha powder and a subtle cardamom spice, plus mellow fruit (cherry and cassis) and yet plenty of structure if you want to age it.