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:

Wow! This wine is listed at $14 on the winery website. Once quaffability gave this one the thumbs up I had to get a bottle. Never knew Clear Lake had an appellation, did you? I guess most people just use the Lake County designation. On popping the cork this seems like a big time winner, a real big nose of dark, brambly fruit mixed with spicy notes. On the tongue it delivers as promised, the structure is nice and rounded. The wine seems almost velvet-like in the mouth with nice, deep fruit flavors once again being front and center. These last through to the end before mixing with peppery undertones to give you a nice smooth finish. I can’t quite call this complex but it sure was a joy to drink.

Just a week ago the Rocking Horse was the best Zin available at TJ’s, no more. This one clearly tasks the throne. It’s wines like these that I feel I need a red alert functionality. That way my “readers” can get to these before they disappear. Hopefully it hasn’t yet cause I sure would like to grab a case!

Rating: Bulk Buy