If you’re going to call your wine “Earthquake”, then not much point making something too subtle. Earthquake Zin from Michael David Winery in Lodi, California is so called as grapes come from a vineyard planted around the time of San Francisco’s great earthquake in 1906. As the name suggests, it won’t leave you unmoved – a gigantic, rich and powerful wine (abv 16%) but somehow very satisfying.
Blaauwklippen winemaker Rolf Zeitvogel launched his Zinfandel Reserve 2009 at R289 a bottle on Friday by putting it up against five top Californian examples, the exercise proving 1) that his version is just about as smart as Zin gets ; and 2) don’t ever expect Zin to be “elegant”. Exotic, big and bold, yes, but not elegant.
Tasting notes and scores for the six wines as follows:
1. Terra d’Oro Deaver 100 Year Old Vines 2008 ($30)
Dark fruit, some floral fragrance and liquorice on the nose. Juicy and pure fruited, bright acidity, relatively fine tannins. Fine but rather safe styling. Score: 16.5/20
2.= Blaauwklippen Reserve 2009
Cedar wood and pencil shavings on the nose. Dark fruit, bright acidity – sweet and intense. Bright acidity and prominent but not unattractive oak. Full but balanced. Very dry finish. Score: 16/20
2.= Michael David Winery Earthquake Zinfandel 2010 ($26)
Includes small portion Petite Syrah. Dark fruit and vanilla on the nose and palate. Hugely concentrated with moderate acidity. Alcohol well integrated; finish long and savoury. A rock ‘n roll sort of wine. Score: 16/20.
4. Talty Vineyards Dry Creek Valley 2008 ($38)
7% Petite Syrah, 3% Carignan. Red fruit on the nose and palate. Slight baked quality. Some developed character. Bright, slightly sour acidity. Relatively medium bodied and somewhat rough hewn. Score: 15.5/20
5. Rosenblum Cellars Annette’s Reserve 2009 ($35)
11% Carignan, 11% Petite Syrah. Red and black cherry fruit on the nose and palate. Savoury edge. Concentrated but somewhat plain, lacking detail. Score: 15/20
6. Robert Biale Vineyards Monte Rosso 2009 ($50)
Heady on the nose. Jammy fruit, soft tannins. Sweet, rich and full. Hot finish. Totally overwhelming. Score: 14/20