2005 Rocking Horse Napa Valley Zinfandel

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Lots of trials and tribulations here. First I tried the winery’s site. Nothing. Next I put them through the ringer as discussed in my post on wine search engines and I was 0-3 with Google, Able Grape, and Scrugy. Next up I expanded the test to include Corkd, Snooth and WineMad. No dice. 0-7. At least I should be assured a good SEO ranking here.

If you don’t want to count solely on me check quaffability’s write up on the 2002 and the 2004.

What I Think:

Thinking about this one brought up loads of cross links in my head before I even pulled the cork out of the bottle. I had the 2002 offering of this one last year and was impressed but it was quickly overshadowed by the Beringer Clear Lake Zinfandel which was ranked #1 in my TJ’s top 10 for 2007. Couple that with my recent experiences with the Sausal which I enjoyed but seemed pricey and Cline which was slightly disappointing I was keen to see where this one slotted in.

In a nutshell if you call the Cline too fruity and the Sausal to mellow this found a happy middle between them with the price on the lower end of that scale. It was a bit tannin filled up front but this tightness gave way to some lush fruits that lingered on through the finish with a spiciness throughout. I’ll definitely be grabbing another bottle of this one but just like last year if the Beringer reappears I’ll drop it like a bad habit.

Rating: Buy It

2003 Rocking Horse Garvey Family Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “Great structure and layers of complexity are the hallmarks of this full bodied Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Sumptuous upon entry and showing a dark crimson hue, this delectable wine hints of classic bell pepper, violets and a lingering suggestion of chocolate before bursting into a full bodied black cherry finish. This hand crafted wine was aged in hand selected oak barrels and will be rewarded by proper cellaring.”

What I Think:

After my brother-in-law sampled the Rosenblum we moved on to this Rocking Horse Cab which had enthralled me on first encounter. Shortly after I opened it, given the lack of a meal to accompany it, I was a bit concerned that the dry, dustiness may not have been as appealing as I had found it last.

On the nose this seems like a complex cabernet. The dryness starts at the front of the palate with some fat, rich fruit flavors on top that move towards briar and spice in the mid-palate until the floor drops out and it gets chalky, dry and dusty. Still wondering how this one will age. I think I have another 2 bottles so I’ll have another one over the next few weeks and if I am still enjoying it I’ll be back at TJ’s (it was readily available on last visit) to load up again.

Rating: Buy It

2003 Rocking Horse Garvey Family Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “Great structure and layers of complexity are the hallmarks of this full bodied Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Sumptuous upon entry and showing a dark crimson hue, this delectable wine hints of classic bell pepper, violets and a lingering suggestion of chocolate before bursting into a full bodied black cherry finish. This hand crafted wine was aged in hand selected oak barrels and will be rewarded by proper cellaring.”

What I Think:

Trying to have some patience as I type, yet again what a ridculous value! $24 for the same bottle on the winery site! You have to love TJ’s! That said I can’t help but cut to the chase, get this wine now! Read this when you come back….

Okay good, I opened this after the Marietta as I knew we were having steak and this would be an appropriate pairing. Before I opened it I read the above and thought to myself; Bell Peppers are classic? Who would have ever known? Back to the wine, how high can I sing the praises? On opening this it had a true cabernet noise, what is that? I think I now, so I’ll say this was it. The complexity was apparent at that point. The aromas were briary fruit with oak and a bit of spice lingering behind. On the palate you are struck immediately by dryness. I mean almost puckering dryness that ends up opening to some fruit and then fades back to this (with some time I determine the dryness equals this) earthy and dusty finish. Somewhere you can catch floral notes, I think violets, intermixed with those earthy tones. The texture seemed almost velvety, there is so much to describe here that I feel like I have ADD. The look is deep purple, almost silky. I wonder what the vintage rating was this year, let me add that to my list of things to do… Does this taste older than it is? I want someone that really knows wine to tackle this one and tell me why it seems so unique to me. Either way I want to watch this one age so I’m going to get more now.

Rating: Bulk Buy (for me, you should just grab a bottle until you are sure this style agrees with you)

2002 Rocking Horse Zinfandel

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per quaffability “Here is the second of three offerings from this winery currently featured at Trader Joe’s.

This zin jumps out of the glass with a big blast of oak, peppery Zinfandel spice, and superripe, autumn blackberries.

There’s more oak in the mouth, a sense of heat, and ripe, spicy, brambly blackberry curd. The combination of heat, ripe fruit and spice reminds me of a rough-hewn ruby port. This wine is a bit over the top — check that — way over the top, but it’s also a whole lot of wine for the money, so try a bottle if you like this style.”

What I Think:

I didn’t check til after I finished the bottle, but the same stuff directly from the winery…$19! Amazing! This wine is 65% Napa Valley, 35% Sonoma and is a big one. All wood when first opened with some aggressive swirling it opened slightly and showed some raspberry mingling with darker fruit battling with the tannins. The dark fruits again appear on the palate before fading to a peppery, brambly big fruity finish. This wine has lots of character, it kind of reminds me of the loud kid in class that you couldn’t missed if you tried. Even if you don’t like it guessing you would have to do a double take to see what the heck it is.

Rating: Buy It