Hangtown Red Lot 41

NV Hangtown Red Lot 41Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Boeger Winery “Luscious and jammy aromas of: cedar, earth, vanilla, caramel, cherries, plums and oak. Rich flavors of dark fruits, gentle tannins and balances acidity make this the intimate BBQ companion.”

What I Think:

Hailing from El Dorado county this one seems to be a regular (or not so much) hodgepodge. Lot 38 was Zin, Cab, Barbera and Petite Sirah. Lot 42 was a Barbera and Zinfandel blend. And they move fast. They announced Lot 41 on Feb 28th and they are already on to Lot 42. A search turns up that the Hangtown Red also has quite a legacy having first been bottled back in 1975. I found this interesting article that did a great job of sharing the back story. While it appears there was once some information available on Lot 41 that is no longer the case. That said it looks like the winery does a good job of offering these for fair prices ($8.75) on their site while working with Trader Joe’s at the same time. I’m always happy to see that!

(14.1%) Blend Unknown – Nice fruity nose this translates to the palate with rich plum flavors. A bit of acidity emerges as the mid-palate dries out and starts to show some gentle, chewy tannins which lead to a plush, creamy finish (showing vanilla and oak) with just a hint of sweetness that lingers together nicely. This is Trader Joe’s sweet spot as they deliver many wines with the same taste profile.

In the article mentioned above they quoted Greg Boeger as saying the Hangtown Red “isn’t meant to be a statement wine. Nonetheless, it has a lot to say of how Californians live and eat, as well as their fondness for wines that can be counted on for character and value.” To that end I think they hit the mark. This is an affordable, approachable everyday wine that I’ll certainly be grabbing another bottle of. I think many of you will be pleased if you do the same.

Rating: Buy It

2007 Sobon Estate ReZerve Primitivo

2007 Sobon Estate ReZerve PrimitivoPrice: $24.00 @ Sobon Estates

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Big, rich ad full bodied; with toasty, jammy aromas and forward fruity flavors. Genetically related to Zinfandel, but strikingly different in balance and intensity.”

What I Think:

This is a wine that twitter made me crave, too bad their search doesn’t work or I would show you why. Fresh off the Rocky Top Zinfandel I loved I had to get this one. In a rare episode where it seems I am living the dream Sobon Wines offered to send a bottle my way, lucky me! My experience with Primitivo from Italy (from where it hails) does not run all that deep but this is only the 2nd I’ve tried stateside (the other is Perry Creek but I didn’t record any tasting notes, shame on me!). Anyhow let’s get to it…

With pizza in the oven this was an easy choice. If a bottle were to be judged solely on its weight this one would be liquid gold as it is super heavy. On opening the nose was smoky, hot and dusty and the palate was heavy on oak, a bit surprisingly given it was aged in 1 to 2 year old oak. This all blew off with some time and became toasty with a nose of cooked/stewed plums showing a small hint of green. Once it cleared the palate showed nicely balanced fruit and hearty acid, the combo hardly indicate the high alcohol content (15.3%). The end shows tart fruit, white pepper and tamed tannins leading to a finish of great tangy notes that last and last. This last paragraph is really my best guess. This wine is hard to figure out and keeps you guessing. A challenge for sure, but one that I look forward to taking again, just be sure to give this one some time to open up. Next time I want to taste this one side by side with an Italian bottling to better assess the different styles between the continents. Kudos to Sobon for not only working with Primitivo but Sangiovese and Barbera amongst many other uncommon varietals here in the states.

By the way, have I mentioned everyone should be visiting Amador County? For the record, I haven’t yet. They are bottling a ton of unique grapes that few other work with here in California. Those that read often are tiring of hearing me say this so here is my promise to you, before the end of August I will make a visit to Amador County happen. You heard it here first! Stay tuned…

Rating: Pricey

2006 Sobon Estate Rocky Top Zinfandel

Price: $12.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

2006 Sobon Estate Rocky Top Zinfandel Per K&L Wines “Rocky Top Tennessee may be home sweet home to Lynn Anderson, but Rocky Top in Amador is home to some fine old Zinfandel vines, and that’s good news for all of us! A very shy producing vineyard with soils of volcanic ash and boulders, this site produces old vine Zinfandel of immense proportions. The very floral, vanilla and raspberry jam aromas are very forward and inviting. The flavors match the aromas, with a rich juicy component. The finish is long and velvety-rich.”

What I Think:

For those that say twitter doesn’t sell wine like Steve Heimoff, here is a firm example of where it does. After coming across @sobonwine hearing about their wines my curiosity was piqued. This led me to K&L Wines where I paid for this bottle of Rocky Top with money. Wow a real example of selling something on twitter… Oh, by the way Dell also made a little bit of money via twitter. But I digress, let’s get to the wine.

This wine is 92% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Syrah, 2% Carignane and 2% Barbera. K&L nicely describes the terroir of this wine above. On the nose you are greeted with rich aromas of dark berries and dusty mocha chocolate. On the palate you are greeted with more purple fruits; plums and blackberries, with a slightly tart cherry component that along with the tannins keeps this wine in perfect balance. The finish was long, velvety and delightful. This is the best Zinfandel I have been introduced to in a while and another reminder that I need to get out and visit Amador County (and Lodi too!) soon. There are a ton of interesting wines coming out of the area that are friendly on the pocketbook. This one is a great example of that and I highly recommend it for Zindependence Day. What are you drinking tomorrow?

Rating: Wow!

2004 Santino Sierra Foothills Zinfandel

2004 Santino Sierra Foothills ZinfandelPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per No Merlot on the ’03 “The Santino Zin is sturdy and full of rich raspberries and blackberries, plums, and spice aromas. The mouth is flush with berry fruit that hook up with almonds, cinnamon and pepper that finishes with slight tartness but shows some sense of harmonic convergence. Nice Zin for the price. Matches well with spicy and hearty foods.” (editors note: they also give great back story on how Santino became part of Renwood)

What I Think:

Per my database here this is my fourth bottle of the Santino Zin and I have yet to post, shame on me. Why not? Let’s blame it on research. The Santino site only mentions the ’06, so I emailed them to check in on the ’04. Never heard back. Then, from the above, I learned of the internal dysfunction that led to Santino becoming part of Renwood, a very well respected winery from the region. Regardless Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator had this to say of the winery in his recent book ”One of the leading wineries in the Sierra Foothills.” Couple all of this with my curiosity of the region, they grow a ton of off the beaten path grapes (Italian mostly) and people whose opinion I respect such as Megan, of Wine Clubbie being such huge fans of the area, and I have been thrilled to see this time and time again as I visit Trader Joe’s…

On to the main event. This wine is simple but a winner. On the nose a mix of red fruit and wood. In the mouth you get dark forward fruit with a dry, tannic herbal mid-palate (think sage) that leads to a slightly sour note reminiscent of raspberries. The finish is chewy, lingering and peppery. This wine falls in line with what I think of as typical from this region; particularly the finish. All in all, well balanced and worth the money. Another wine that fits this profile is the TJ’s Growers Reserve Zin. Same price, just as nice; but fruitier…

As for the Santino, I am going to get some more. After I do so everyone else should feel free to do the same.

Rating: Buy It