Last Sunday was apparently "Superbowl Sunday". Everyone was talking about their teams - the Colts or the Saints. I was more interested in a completely different team: Team Zin.
Bob Peterson is a professional chef and owner of The BBQ Boys in San Jose. A chance encounter with a Ridge Jimsomare Zinfandel from the 1970s turned him into a Zinfandel enthusiast and he began making wine at home.
Team Zin was bonded back in 2004. Initially the amounts that had been produced were so small that the wine was just sold to friends and other clients, and no real effort was made at marketing. Then came a couple of setbacks; most of the 2005 vintage was lost when a pump malfunctioned and medical issues meant there was no 2006 vintage.
The first wine from the 2007 vintage is in bottle and the winery is now open to the public on the first Sunday of the month. It's located in an industrial unit off Gish, not far from the junction of 101 and 880. Apart from the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, all the wines carry the "Inspirit" label.
2008 Zinfandel, Belloti Ranch, Alexander Valley
Barrel Sample, not yet bottled. Field blend: approx 84% Zinfandel, 13% Petite Sirah and 3% Carignan. Around 130 cases.
The initial nose had an odd chemical note, something like acetone or nail polish remover, which blew off after a few minutes to reveal vanilla and oak. On the palate it had good brambly, raspberry fruit. The finish was dry, with smooth tannins. Overall it's a tasty wine; I'd just be a little concerned about that nose and how it will develop.
2008 Ponzo Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Barrel Sample, not yet bottled. Field blend: approx 60% Carignan, 20% Zinfandel and 20% Petite Sirah. Around 145 cases.
Bob Ponzo's vineyard is used by some well known producers including Ridge and Nickel & Nickel. The fruit came from three rows that were not picked by the intended purchaser, and is primarily Carignan. The nose is floral, with shy black fruit and sweet oak. It's rich, with fairly concentrated black fruit and a long finish. The wine would probably benefit from 2-3 of years ageing before it peaks. 89-91
2007 Zinfandel, Oldini Ranch, Alexander Valley $26, 225 cases
13% Petite Sirah. Smoky nose, with raspberry and coriander seed. Dry and tight; concentrated raspberry fruit and some orange peel notes. Medium finish. 89
2004 "Discovery" Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley $22
Sourced from the Murphy Ranch Vineyard (as in Murphy-Goode winery).
84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petite Verdot. ABV 13.6%
Nose is feminine and sweet, with some violets. Soft blackberry fruit with herbal notes. Dry, tannic finish. Good value. 88
2004 Zinfandel, Teldeschi Ranch "Heritage Clone" $22
15% Petite Sirah, ABV 15.6%
Smoky, earthy nose with some dried orange peel. Slightest hint of residual sugar; peppery raspberry and blackberry. Astringent, smoky finish. 87
2004 Zinfandel, Teldeschi Ranch "Late Picked" $26
Picked 2 weeks later than the "Heritage Clone", this has 16.2% ABV and 12% Petite Sirah.
The wines are similar, with this having more tannin and concentration as well as higher alcohol. 87