Saturday, January 21, 2012

This ain't yo' Mama's Zinfandel

Image Borrowed from
Do you drink Zinfandel? You really should. One of the first horror stories I learned in wine was about “White Zinfandel,” the insipid pink stuff that’s sipped at weddings, pools and underage parties around the world. Yet it’s utterly amazing how much people hate the stuff. Unfortunately, that same hated for White Zin has forever left its mark on the word “Zinfandel”.  Literally to the point that when you recommend a Zinfandel to someone, you feel obligated to explain that it’s a “red” Zinfandel—not white.

So why should you drink Zinfandel? Besides the fact that it’s an excellent value, with good bottles in nearly every price range, it’s also because the absolute best examples will only run you into the $35-$50 range. There’s also the fact that Zinfandel comes in many styles, from rich and sultry party-in-a-bottle versions to examples that are lean and focused, and excellent with food. Ridge is a producer that immediately comes to mind, and it’s easy to become lost in their large mix of great Zins. However, once in a while a new producer comes along that turns my head, and that’s exactly what happened with Talty Vineyards.

What truly sets Talty Zinfandel apart from the rest is its massive amount of rich layered fruit and spice balanced against earthy and floral notes with impeccable balance and juicy acidity. Sounds great, right? It’s even better in person.

Talty vineyards are located in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, an area truly suited to creating amazing Zins. The Talty family prides itself in creating handcrafted wines (from the “vine to the wine” as they put it). The Estate Zinfandel comes from their own six-acre vineyard, whereas the Filice Connolly is from Napa Valley. It’s hard to choose between these two bottlings. In the end, it was the ’06 Filice Connolly that truly stole my heart. It’s simply a great Zinfandel at its peak. However, they are all worth your consideration.

On to the notes:

2005 William Talty Estate Zinfandel Dry Creek – The nose was beautifully expressive with intense mixed berries, floral and stem notes, pepper, leather and sweet red candies. On the palate, it was big yet juicy with mixed berry jam and spice in a balanced and finessed expression of Zinfandel. The long staying finish remained fresh and highly enjoyable. (91 points)

2007 William Talty Estate Zinfandel Dry Creek – The nose was intense and expressive with toasty almond, sweet spices, blackberry jam, raisins and a sour cream note that added a savory balance to all the sweetness. On the palate, it was smooth as silk yet juicy with black cherry, spices and dark chocolate. It was remarkably balanced throughout and finished long, yet clean. (93 Points)

2008 William Talty Estate Zinfandel Dry Creek – The nose was more restrained than the ’05 and ’07, yet still highly enjoyable with blackberry, floral notes and black pepper. On the palate, it was juicy with red berries, black currant, spicy vanillin, and herbs. The finish was palate-coating, yet fresh with notes of sour red berries. (90 points)

The Filice Connolly Vineyard Zinfandel, Napa Valley

2006 William Talty Napa Filice Connolly Vineyards
The nose showed perfumed red fruits, animal musk, a hint of cotton candy and sweet spices. On the palate, it was big and dark with a massive wave of rich berries and sweet spices in a balanced and remarkably fresh expression. The finish was palate-coating, yet fresh.  This is simply a great Zinfandel entering its peak drinking window. (94 points) 

2008 William Talty Napa Filice Connolly VineyardsThe nose showed mixed berries, floral perfumes, minerals and earthy stones. On the palate, it was smooth yet juicy with intense red and black fruits, brown sugar and earthy black pepper. The finish was long and fresh. (92 points)

Talty Vineyards Website!

A big thank you of Greg dal Piaz of Snooth for introducing me to Talty Vineyards.

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