Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

Dane Cellars Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

This is the second of three wines I'll be reviewing for Dane Cellars. I started with their 2014 Justi Creek Vineyard Grenache, now I'm on their 2013 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, and I'll be concluding with their 2012 Justi Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Founder and winemaker Bart Hansen contacted me himself to try his wines and write about them. Bart started off in the industry during harvest; trucking grapes from the vineyard down a hill, five tons at a time. In 1986 he started winemaking for Kenwood, and then hopped over to Benzinger in 1998. He founded Dane Cellars in 2007, named after his son.

Zin is a passion for Bart, and he was the lead winemaker for Benziger's Zinfandel during his time there. Before that, back in his Kenwood days when even White Zinfandel was being made from Old Vine Zinfandel, the red Zin's that were being made weren't those over-extracted, over-alcoholic candied-fruit bombs that we're seeing now. With this Zin, Bart wants to get back to the Zinfandel roots he remembers from '88-'89.  Los Chamizal Vineyard, where this particular wine is from, was planted 40 years ago and is grown by Peter Haywood.

Okay, Zinfandel. Here we are. Meeting again. Will we ever get along? I'm guessing the answer is no. There are Zins that I love but probably about 98% of the ones I've tasted I ask myself "eeew, why would I want a whole glass of that?"

I've told this story before and I'll tell it again: when I made the transition from wine enthusiast to wine professional, there were two varietals I just didn't get. Chardonnay and Zinfandel were just unappealing. But I had to know whether or not it was good, right? Even if I didn't like it, is this particular one good? It had now become my job to know! In my adventures to understand these varietals I ended up falling deeply in love with Chardonnay... and remaining hopelessly lost with Zinfandel. I still don't get it. Why would I want a whole glass of that?

But my struggle continues. With every Zin that's poured in front of me I try my damndest to get it, and I don't. But, as previously stated, there is the rare exception. The playing field is drastically tilted in favor of Mendocino or Sonoma for the place of origin of those exceptions, and this one is from Sonoma.

Because of my history with Zin, I opened the bottle the night before I wrote this review and had a glass while reading the latest issues of Batman and Green Lanterns. I wanted to see if the wine would change the next day for the better and it did. After one day, a massive candied fruit bomb took the fruit down a few levels and upped the pepper and the spices. This is the kind of Zinfandel that I understand!

It has a 15.5% ABV. The color of the wine is straight-up purple. On the nose there's fine black table pepper, black licorice, raisins, black raspberry and cinnamon. It's like a mulled dark fruit stew made in a cauldron by cackling witches. In the mouth it's between medium and full bodied with a rich mouthfeel and aggressive tannin. On the palate there's flavors of black raspberry, plums, black pepper, cedar and vanilla. It finishes with dark fruit, black pepper, and hot cinnamon.

Eureka! I've found it! Dane Cellars has earned a place in my heart forever as a producer of Zinfandel that I actually understand. And it's totally worth the $36. Bravo!

Price: $36
Rating: 4/5 = Recommended (what does that mean?)

The bottle used was supplied free of charge for the purpose of this unpaid review. To have your wine reviewed follow this link.

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1 comment:

  1. I think some of the big zins lack balance for the sake of power, great when they are good!



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