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Feb-Mar 2001

90 Grgich Hills 1998, Napa Co. 50% / Sonoma Co. 50%
Sublime. Highly extracted tart berries (strawberries, red currants, raspberries), moderate tannin, great structure. Power with restraint – this is a wine to enjoy now or lay away for 5 years. The perfect pizza wine.

89 Kenwood 1998 Jack London Vineyard Sonoma Valley
This wine has taken a turn toward the more elegant in the past few years. Just as supple as Kenwood’s Sonoma County Zin, the Jack London is sweeter, riper and adds more concentration and some spice to its vibrant framboise-like fruit. Well-balanced, with soft tannin and good structure, this is a wine that can be enjoyed now, or held over the next 5 to 7 years. Pair with eggplant Parmigiana, steak or lamb.

89 Edizione Pennino 1998, Napa Valley
Named after Francesco Pennino, Francis Coppola’s maternal grandfather, this is a rich, blockbuster of a Zinfandel. Full-bodied plum and spice fill the mouth, the tannin is substantial but soft, while the finish is multi-layered and long, revealing deep fruit, subtle oak spice and a hint of fennel.

89 Stefan Daniels 1998, Redwood Valley, Old Vines Zinfandel
Rich blackberry nose, medium-full body, deep blackberry and roasted coffee flavors, intense flavors, moderate tannin. Big yet balanced.

87 Mazzocco 1997, Dry Creek Valley
The nose is rather subdued now, but in the mouth it shows soft tannins, lush, spicy blackberry and a touch of milk chocolate that follow through to the finish.

86 Kenwood 1998, Sonoma County
Intense raspberry-blueberry fruit with a peppery edge; dry, soft and supple on the palate. Good quaffer for current consumption. Great spaghetti wine.

85 Fetzer Vineyards 1998, California Eagle Peak
Deep raspberry nose, soft, smooth texture, moderate tannin, and a little cinnamon under the fruit on the palate.

83 Niebaum-Coppola 1999, Diamond Series
Sweet, ripe, jammy fruit, soft tannin, blackberry, blueberry and chocolate.

Dec-Jan 2001

97 Peterson 1997 Bradford Mountain
This luscious Zin has extraordinarily concentrated raspberry fruit at its core, with a large dose of mint and some chocolate and toast notes, as well. Firm but well-integrated tannins make this a pleasure to drink now, and it should also age well.

Dec-Jan 2001

95 Nickel & Nickel 1997, Ponzo Vineyard Russian River Valley
Crushed peppercorn nose, with fresh raspberry fruit and briary, spicy overtones, and a velvety texture. The empty glass is like a great big rose and crushed fruit bouquet. A real treat.

94 Clos du Val 1998 Palisade Vineyard Stags Leap District Napa Valley
Spectacular Zin, classically structured, it hits an elevated level of intensity and holds it from the nose right through the finish. Bright, spicy, ripe raspberry with wonderful concentration and depth, seamless oak. Perfectly balanced, with velvety texture, firm but well-integrated tannin, and a long, spicy, fruity finish.

93 Geyser Peak 1998, Sonoma County
Geyser Peak’s Sonoma County Zinfandel is at once brash and classy. It’s big–14.5% alcohol, hugely aromatic and full of flavor–but it’s of medium body and has good acid. On the whole it’s reminiscent of some of the newer Amarones. Raspberry reduction, smooth texture, moderate tannin, with dark chocolate and leather overtones, and a warm, fruity finish. Don’t pair with fish.

93 Unti Vineyards 1998, Dry Creek Valley
An unusual and very appealing Zin from relatively young vines in Dry Creek Valley, blended with a little Syrah and Petite Sirah in the style of the old field blends. The Unti Zin has a distinct, concentrated blueberry character, subtle oak notes and a seductive texture.

93 Monteviña 1999, Amador County Sierra Foothills
Needless to say, a fabulous value. A deeply fruity wine with rich plummy fruit accented by cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate notes, in a package that has almost port-like alcohol (15.5%). Nevertheless, it’s all in balance and doesn’t seem in the least hot. Big, intense, and meant for Cajun cuisine.

90 Sobon Estate 1998 Rocky Top Shenandoah Valley of California, estate bottled Zinfandel
A big mouthful of wine–intense, spicy, raspberry reduction (like framboise liqueur); medium-bodied with moderate tannin and a ripe fruity finish. Match with equally strong flavored foods like grilled marinated steak, or gorgonzola.

90 Robert Mondavi Winery 1998, Napa Valley
A very good Zin, though unusual. It has rich raspberry fruit, yet with eucalyptus overtones. Dry, balanced (despite 14.6% alcohol), deep and long.

89 Kenwood 1997 Mazzoni Geyserville Sonoma County
So lush it could be served as dessert; it is nonetheless dry. Soft as a baby’s bottom, it has a concentrated raspberry and spice flavor, and a warm, angular finish.

Oct-Nov 2000

93 Grgich Hills 1997, Sonoma County
Consistently fine, Grgich makes one of the best Zins year after year. The ‘97 has intense berry fruit with good depth, some cinnamon-like spice and dark chocolate notes, and a lengthy finish.

91 Brutacao Vineyards 1997, Mendocino
Extremely spicy, this medium-bodied Zin has moderate tannin and jammy blackberry fruit.

89 Sobon Estate 1997, Amador County
A nicely balanced wine with soft spicy berry fruit, moderate oak, some dark smokey chocolate notes, and slightly bitter tannin. Quite complex and in need of a couple more years of aging.

June-July 2000

96 Geyser Peak 1997 Galleano’s D’Ambrogio Vineyard, Cucamonga Valley, Winemaker’s Selection
A spectacular old vine Zinfandel from southern California. Huge but balanced, super concentrated raspberry, blueberry and allspice flavors, with a never-ending finish. A wonderful sipping wine to enjoy all by itself.

95 Dry Creek Vineyard 1997, Sonoma County Old Vines
The first sniff of this wonderful wine drew a lascivious chuckle–it’s so seductive you feel like you’re getting away with something zinful. So absolutely aromatic it fills your senses. The blueberry-raspberry jam and nutmeg on the mid-palate combines with dark bittersweet chocolate notes through the finish. The tannin is integrated enough to allow for current consumption, yet gives the wine sufficient structure to age over the next decade. Very, very Special.

89 Cosentino 1998, California The Zin, [zinfandel]
A full-bodied, velvet textured wine with an aromatic nose of cracked black peppercorns, cinnamon and blueberry jam. So ripe it seems sweet. So intense that it will overpower most food. Rather like a port, where this wine really excels is as an accompaniment to strong cheeses, and bittersweet chocolate.

86 Fetzer Vineyards 1997, California Home Ranch
Spicy raspberry with a hint of hazelnuts in the background, smooth tannin and a spice and fruit finish of considerable length. Beautifully balanced for pairing with such foods as chile, grilled eats and vegetables, and pizza.

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