2003 Beringer Clear Lake Zinfandel

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per quaffability “If you’ve spent any time around Napa, particularly “up valley”, you’ll find that many of the locals like to quip about Lake County as some kind of “Deliverance” style backwater, where the all the toothless residents are either crank addicts, mentally disabled, or both. Without commenting about the merits of such jokes or what it says about denizens of either county, I will say that some Napa wineries are seeing greener, or at least cheaper, grass on the other side of the fence, and planting and growing good wines up in Lake County.

Among those is Napa and Knights Valley behemoth Beringer, which has put out this Clear Lake Zin, the first wine I have seen from that appellation.

This wine makes a good first impression, with a nose of peppery, briary fruit, braced with with a beam of toasty oak and a touch of chaparral.

There is true zin fruit in the mouth, medium bodied, ripe but a little drier than you’d expect, leading to a finish marked by firm tannins. Very pleasant, especially at this price”

What I Think:

We opened this one for comparison sake when having steak and drinking the Sausal Century Vine Zinfandel. Given that this is my third bottle of the Clear Lake I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. But, wow, the difference was extraordinary! The boldness here versus the mellowness of the 130 year old Sausal vines was something else. Now this wine is probably bigger than your average Zinfandel but even still.

On opening this one you get scents of sweet, ripe and definitely hot, brambly fruit with that same mint/menthyl aroma lingering in the background. On the nose you get loads of ripe, bursting blueberries that last through the mid-palate before giving way to a dry dusty backbone that leads to a lip smacking finish. Even better than the last, a sure winner! I’m going to have to keep my eye out for some other wines from the Lake County appellation, be nice to see how this compares to something a little closer to home. Granted with the differences so vivid it was hard to do an apple to apples comparison but this surely held its own versus the Sausal offering though that one cost 4 times as much. I am going to have to start going through these bottles more slowly, only six more to go.

Rating: Bulk Buy

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