||And a bit of a bloody pulpit:
The '96 Rosenblum Contra Costa Zins were, I thought, across the board,
some of the best ContraCosta Zins ever made. Kent didn't seem to do as
well w/ the '97 vintage. They seem somewhat lighter & less structured
than his '96 versions.
The early Limerick Lane Zins were terrific; loads of rich intense blackberryZin
dusty/ old vines fruit. The '95 was a lesser Zin and the '96 was a major
let-down. This '97 seems a big step in the right direction from the last
2 vintages, but not what they were in the early '90's though.
And almost the same story on the SaucelitoCanyon Zins. Loved the ones from
the early '90's but the '96 was a letdown. This '97 is sort of a return
to form, but not up to those from the early '90's.
I don't know if my palate is changing or what but the trend in Zins these
days, especially w/ the '97's I've tasted, seems to be big soft fleshy
sort of Zins and not the tannins & structure & acidity that I recall
in those from the early '90's. I don't know if they're pushing the yields
up because of the overheated Zin market or if it's a stylistic change in
the winemaking. But I don't find the current Zins nearly as serious a wine
as most of the new Calif/Rhones/Syrahs.
The L'Escrime (French for the sport of fencing) was a special wine for
me. As soon as it walked in the door at Margaux's Enoteca, she was on the
phone to me to give me a head's up on the wine, being as fencing is another
of my passions. I bought several extra bottles as gifts for some of my
fencing compadres who also drink wine, and plan to get more as first-place
prizes at the New Mexico Open this Fall (assuming some whiz-bang kid, of
which there are plenty around, doesn't take first place!!). The mind-behind
L'Escrime is Diane Harder, a fencing Mom down in the LA (that's Los Angeles,
not LosAlamos) area, who used to be the SouthernCal rep for Ridge Vnyds.
The L'Escrime venture is her idea of a means to support her two son's fencing
careers, which, with all the travel, is not cheap. Her youngest son, Sean,
took the Silver in the Under-10 Foil competition on the PacificCoast circuit
this Spring. Quite an accomplishment in that the Pacific Coast is the toughest
youth venue for fencing outside the New York area. The wine: Sangiovese
is, someday, going to make as great a wine as Cabernet or Syrah in Calif.
It's a variety that appears to have multitudinous clones and that each
clone strongly reflects the terrior in which it's grown. Most of the Calif
Sangiovese has an attractive cherry/Sangiovese nose but often is tart/thin/narrow/lean/hard
on the palate. It strikes me as a variety that would strongly benefit from
a judicious blending that preserves that lovely Sangiovese but gives it
more flesh & lushness on the palate. Alas, too many people want Calif
Sangiovese to taste more like Chianti Classico or SuperTuscan Red. I'm
not sure that's the best model for California Sangiovese. The problem,
IMHO, is that most people taste Calif Sangiovese with preconceptions as
to what it SHOULD taste like (usually on the Tuscan model), rather than
what that terrior and that winemaker can attain w/ that wine. If Calif
Sangiovese tastes more like Calif Zin (well.... the ultimate accolade for
ANY wine!!) than Chianti, than so be it. The L'Escrime is a pretty interesting
version of Calif Sangiovese. It seems to have been in older oak for longer
than most versions. The slight brett/horsecollar gave it a bit of an Italiante
character, and it had a softness & roundness on the palate than most
versions, w/o that searing/hurty character that most Italian Sangiovese
have, sorta like sticking your tongue between the jaws of a vice &
torquing that sucker down. Alas, only small amounts available in California
markets. There will be a '97 CabFranc released soon under the Repost (a
basic fencing defensive/offensive action that I would be most happy to
demonstrate sometime after a marathon Zin tasting whilst swinging from
the chandelier in my Zorro costume!) label. Stay tuned.
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