2006 VINTJS Malbec

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2006 VINTJS MalbecPer the bottle “hails from the prime growing regions of Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. Known for rich, fleshy wines, this Malbec delivers with dark berry, licorice and integrated tannins.”

What I Think:

The bottle tells you this one is made by Mosaic Winery. When visiting their site you are quickly redirected to deLorimier Winery, looks like it was a long term partnership that they folded into a single label at some point. I can’t find many references to Mosaic but what I do see is that deLorimier Winery released a 2006 Alexander Malbec of their own in September 2009. Looking at pricing on their previous vintages the typical offering would be in the $25 range. Given I can’t find a word about this one online my assumption is that this is the estate juice and that they sold the whole lot to TJ’s, lucky us!

Juicy up front, though this fades as the wine breathes, with an earthy backbone this one dries out towards the mid of the palate where dusted chocolate flavors emerge leading to smooth finish loaded with chewy tannins and barrel spices with just a bit of heat/toastiness. This one doesn’t say Malbec to me (Argentina is my ballast) but it does say nice, easy drinking wine. Per JB, each store only got six cases so make sure to get some while the getting is good. Guessing those outside of CA are out of luck on this one but let me know if you happen to see it!

Rating: Buy It

2007 Ruston Semillon

 2007 Ruston SemillonPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Ruston Vines well nothing on this bottle of course. Unfortunately often the case when these end up at Trader Joe’s. One thing, wineries please! I repeat please! Don’t put your web address on the bottle if I can’t find any more info about the wine. Thanks.

What I Think:

I first fell for this one during my honeymoon in New Zealand. The Pegasus Bay Sauv/Sem was delightful! Ever since I have harbored a soft spot for this grape. Rare to find a US bottling so I was excited to find this one on the shelf at Trader Joe’s. Found the the winery site on the bottle but as usual no mention of this product can be found there. Why is that Ruston? Leave a comment or email me. Would love to know…

Now on to the good stuff. This one hails from Delorimier Vineyard in Alexander Valley. Color is strawish but dark. A nose of floral aromas with mineral, citrus notes lurking near by. On the palate, nice viscosity and what I would call typical Semillon flavors which is complimentary at this price point. Nice smooth finish with a bit of acid leaves this wine nicely balanced. Afterwards I see this clocks in at 14.7% which seems high but the wine is still a winner in my eyes. Like Semillon? Never had it before? You want to grab this bottle. I know I’ll be grabbing a few more!

Rating: Buy It

NV Sausal Cellar Cats Red Zinfandel

Price: $13.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “The Cellar Cats Red is an estate Zinfandel named after Sophie and Gypise the two little black cats that have taken over the winery, literally! Gypsie wandered into the winery one day and captured the hearts of Peachie and Cindy, two of the winery owners, but then quickly disappeared. Unbeknownst to them, she birthed a litter of kittens in the cellar. When they were discovered, they were presumed to be dead, but at the last moment, they realized they were still alive, but just barely. Only one survived, her daughter, later named Sophie. The cats live at the winery here in beautiful Alexander Valley and needless to say, they are spoiled as if they were the heirs to the family fortune, hmmm, what fortune? One day, very near Sophies first birthday, the Demostene family decided to make a wine in honor of the cats, hence, The Cellar Cats Red was born. The popularity of this wine was so great, that it has now become an annual bottling.

This is our lightest, fruitiest Zinfandel. This wine craves a warm night on the porch or by the pool. No need to eat with this one, but it does pair nicely with hamburgers or even cheese and appetizers.”

What I Think:

Many know that I am a member of the Sausal wine club. The winery is located in the Alexander Valley area of Sonoma and known for their old vine Zinfandels. This is one of their latest offerings. It is the bottom of their four rung offering, two of the others have been written up here. Amazingly this one is made from 50-90 year old vines at a very fair cost of $13. Super mellow with loads of dark fruit this one is a winner. If $13 is an everyday drinker for you get a case. In my case I am going to need to do some further evaluation on the field. Stay tuned…I reserve my right to update this one based on my findings.

Rating: Pricey

2002 Sausal Old Vine Family Zinfandel

Price: $18.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “89 points 2002 Sausal “Old Vine Zinfandel” Alexander Valley — Medium-dark purplish ruby; attractive, spicy, cedary, very ripe blackberry fruit aroma with notes of cinnamon, dill, and vanilla; full body; big, forward, rich, jammy, ripe berry and brown sugar flavors; medium-full to full tannin; slightly harsh on the finish; lingering after taste. Highly recommended.”

and from the winery “This wine greets you with a dark ruby color that hints of the fruit to come. The nose is loaded with berries, predominately blackberries highlighted by a touch of cinnamon. There is a heavy richness on the mid-palate with an undertone of vanillin. Blueberries abound in the soft, velvety finish. Whether you drink it now or allow it to mature in your cellar, you will be delighted with this outstanding Zin. The 2002 Family Zinfandel was produced from estate grown grape vines averaging 50 years old. Following fermentation, the wine was aged twenty-two months in a combination of American and French oak barrels, adding complexity. This wine can be aged four to six years from its January 2005 release date.Pairing it with spicy pastas, pork and grilled chicken is recommended.”

What I Think:

Speaking of Tahoe, this was my contribution for the weekend. There were 10 couples and each was to bring a wine, the reason I pulled this one out? Simple! It was the only magnum I had. That said going against the other wines it went over incredibly well. I think we ended up polishing it off in a bit of a stupor but those that paid attention certainly enjoyed it.

This isn’t the huge Zinfandel you may be use to. Given the old vines it must have mellowed over the years. Where you might think bold, this is more rich and savory. The nose borders on blackberry but the typical hint of spices to come is not present. On the mouth it is full of fruit before fading to vanilla accents toward the middle. The end lingers with a nice velvety coating of light fruit. This was a winner. I need to get me some more magnums!

Rating: Wow!

2004 Sausal Century Vine Zinfandel

Price: $30.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “The Century Vines Zinfandel is made from estate-grown Zinfandel vines planted along Sausal Creek prior to 1877. These vines are still producing juice Sausal considers as having the truest varietal characteristics of any they have sampled.

The 2004 vintage’s dark, ruby color is soon followed by a rich, full nose of chocolate and cherry aromas with a subtle yet distinct vanilla spice. The full flavor of the wine comes out as soon as it hits the palate; candied cherry and soft hints of spice create a full mouthfeel. Well structured tannins lend themselves to a long finish, contributing greater depth to an already full-flavored, full-bodied wine.

The 2004 Century Vines Zinfandel is definitely great now, but with a few more years in the bottle will offer an even greater reward. Whether now or later, pair this wine with a juicy steak, wild game, or marinated pork tenderloin.”

What I Think:

First and foremost, in the spirit of full disclosure, as mentioned in a previous post, I am a member of the wine club at Sausal. I enjoy all their wines due to their reasonable price to quality ratio. but especially the Zinfandels for which they have built their reputation on. They have four different bottlings. This is the crème de la crème. And is followed by the Family Reserve ($24), Private Reserve ($18) and down to the Cellar Cats ($12). I think all are made from estate fruit with the main difference being the age of the vines from which the grapes for each bottle are harvested.

This was the first time I had this offering outside of the tasting room and boy was it a learning experience. Given that I have had wine from a 130 year old vines about zero times in my life I wasn’t exactly sure how much my expectations should change from that of a typical high class Zinfandel offering, The steaks were marinating on the table, so it seemed like a prime opportunity to find out. I pulled the cork out of this one and was greeted with loads of cherry and plums on the nose, with a mint/methyl aroma lingering in the back ground. In the mouth it has excellent structure as the cherries were again out in force. As the mid-palate began to fade this wine teased you as if some spice were going to appear but nothing but the lightest of tannins were perceptible as the fruit lasted to the end. You could certainly lend credence to the age of the vines. This was a polished, well rounded and perfectly integrated bottle. That said it was not your typical Zinfandel. In a word, it was mellow. The boldness you may have expected on opening this bottle never appeared. Given the high quality of this offering I must credit that affect to the age of the vines. Hopefully my one year old will start to mellow a little earlier!

We tried this one along side the Beringer Clear Lake Zinfandel which gave me some context, but next time I want to do it with the basic Sausal Zin, Cellar Cats, offering. This should offer the best insight. Given that I have another bottle of this one I will get me chance. That said I am going to let it lie for a year or two but given how polished this is I can’t see what there is to be gained by waiting but I’ll defer to the ones that know better for the time being. Maybe later I’ll try to pass judgment. Given that you are unlikely to track down this bottle I would recommend trying a wine that comes from old vines. It is an eye opening experience.

Rating: Wow!

2004 Sausal Old Vine Family Zinfandel

Price: $18.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “The youngest of our Old Vine Zins from vines 50 to 60 years old, this wine distinguishes itself with aromas of blackberry, cherry and nutmeg. With fruit forward flavors that pair nicely with creamy cheese pastas.”

What I Think:

Talk about starting behind the 8 ball. We opened this one the same night we opened the Ridge. In hindsight it would have been more intelligent to base line that wine (and later this one too) against a more moderately priced Zinfandel, say the old faithful Cline from TJ’s. That being said this was a very good wine, it certainly came into its own towards the end of the bottle. It was very full bodied with deep, dark fruit and well integrated tannins. The structure was round and polished in the mouth. Had I been more intelligent I would have saved myself a glass or more to taste sans the Ridge. Don’t have many specifics for you but this was a very good, not spectacular or remarkable in comparison. In the interest of full disclosure I am a member of the Wine Club at Sausal . They are known for their old vine Zinfandels and find me as a fan due to their reasonable pricing. This is the second to last tier on their later. The make a low cost, Cellar Cats ($12), followed by this one before the Family Reserve ($24) and the Ancient Vines ($30). I have enjoyed all of this and it is a great place to taste if you find yourself in Sonoma. On an interesting side note, I wasn’t aware that this wine was available retail until I randomly saw it on the shelf at the Bell Market near my house on the 24th Street. I would prefer not to rate this based on the lack of attention I paid to it, forced to I say, Wow! Why did I open it again! Disappointed in myself there.

Rating: Wow!