Wine & Spirits - June 2020 - 52

YEAR'S BEST
US ZINFANDELS & MIXED BLACKS
Our blind panels tasted 260 US zinfandels and mixed blacks over the past 12 months. Our critics rated 60 as exceptional (90+) and 23
as Best Buys. Joshua Greene covers California's North Coast; Patrick J. Comiskey covers the rest of the US.
Find a complete list of wines tasted and all reviews at wineandspiritsmagazine.com.

CALIFORNIA: NORTH COAST
MENDOCINO COUNTY
520382

93 | Parducci

$25

2017 Mendocino County True Grit Reserve
Petite Sirah (Best Buy) ^ Yes, there are great
wines from California's North Coast for $25
a bottle, like this classic from Parducci. Tim
Thornhill farms several blocks for this wine,
planted between 1993 and 2009. Rather than
old-vine complexity, it's about fresh red fruit
edging petite's blackness, like the red of a
peach at the pit. There's also a floral note,
hinting at jasmine and something darker,
like violets. While its tannins are relatively
soft for petite, the wine is oxygen starved,
potently structured, needing hours or days
to fully show itself. (2,188 cases) § -J.G.
520333

90 | Camp

$21

90 | Folk Machine

$23

classical, destined for long development in
the cellar, or for decanting with a charcuterie
board. (W&S 8/19) § -J.G.
520384

93 | Silverado

$45

2017 Napa Valley Soda Creek Ranch Zinfandel ^ This tight, red-fruited zin grows at Silverado's vineyard in the hills rising toward
Atlas Peak, where the vines rooted in gravelly loam soils lend their fruit cool earthiness.
The wine tastes like a cold summer plum, and
the scent brings to mind a rosebud just about
to open. Its refreshing acidity will take on an
August heirloom tomato salad with grilled
haloumi cheese. (965 cases) § -J.G.

N A PA V A L L E Y
516998

93 | Robert Biale

$60

2017 Coombsville Napa Valley R.W.
Moore Vineyard Zinfandel ^ Bill Moore
purchased this property, east of the town of
Napa, in 1983; it included a zinfandel vineyard planted in 1905. The vines that Moore
has been able to sustain are now the oldest
in Coombsville, a relatively cool place for
zinfandel, and the source of this remarkable Napa red. Tilt the glass and the color
may shift from vibrant garnet to purple ruby.
Smell it and you might find anise and fennel, hibiscus and nettles, all intertwined with
cool, formidably tight claret-red fruit. It feels
52

WINE & SPIRITS

JUNE 2020

91 | The Lost Chapters

520281

92 | Frog's Leap

$35

2018 Napa Valley Zinfandel (Best Buy) ^
Close your eyes, smell this wine, and you
might think you've moved from Rutherford
to Morgon. This wine has the kind of youthful impact of a great cru Beaujolais, then it
settles into the plump richness of Napa Valley zin. Its mineral-driven tannins ground all
the bright and zesty fruit, holding it tight,
suggesting this has years of development
ahead. A zin to hold. § -J.G.
519755

92 | Keenan

$40

2016 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Zinfandel ^ Michael Keenan farms zinfandel vines on an east-facing slope high up
Spring Mountain that provide 80 percent of
this wine (the parcels include five percent
alicante and carignane). The balance comes
from a vineyard Peter Nissen tends in Calistoga, where the vines are 70 years old. The
combination yields a wine with intense dark
fruit-it has the perfume of black cherries as

$30

2014 Napa Valley Zinfandel (Best Buy) ^
Fragrant with blackberry, lavender and mint,
this zesty, high-toned wine raises the question: Why are many great Napa Valley zinfandels more delicate than their Sonoma cousins
when the valley's cabernets tend to be more
tannic and vast? This one is fresh and clean,
without lacking intensity. It would make a
great partner with duck sugo. (W&S 10/19;
304 cases) § -J.G.
520275

91 | Stags' Leap Winery

2018 Mendocino County Zinfandel (Best
Buy) ^ A fresh young zin, this is all roses and
purple fruit, as juicy and refreshing as the flavor of August peaches at the pit. Pour it with
grilled duck breast. (1,000 cases) § -J.G.
520335
2018 Redwood Valley Avian Science Carignane (Best Buy) ^ This has some cooling
notes of pine and herbs over its simple flavors of blackberries and their seeds. It's all
surrounded by juicy warmth; an earthy red to
decant for shepherd's pie. (250 cases) § -J.G.

their skins are just coming into ripeness. The
minerally tannins are earthy, with a cola-like
spice; their reduction seems to be tied to the
site's volcanic soils. It's a wine with power and
grace, built to age ten years or more. (609
cases) § -J.G.
517564

$125

2016 Stags Leap District Napa Valley Ne
Cede Malis Petite Sirah ^ This estate parcel, planted in 1929, is a mix of 16 varieties,
though predominantly petite sirah. The variety and the block fascinate Christophe Paubert, the Frenchman who has been tending
the vines and making the wine since 2009.
This vintage shows its old-vine complexity in
shades of black, from earth to rose to midnight purple fruit. It's savory, with a formal
structure, before the fruit sweetness begins
to develop with air. Give this a decade in the
cellar and its layered flavor will be more fully
on display. (500 cases) § -J.G.
520360

90 | Materra

$49

90 | T-Vine

$75

2016 Napa Valley Petite Sirah ^ Gentle and
superripe, this is a soft petite with purple
plum fruit under layers of dates and prunes.
Its richness will satisfy a chocolate craving, or
match braised oxtail mole. (350 cases) § -J.G.
520492
2017 Howell Mountain Napa Valley Black
Sears Vineyard Zinfandel ^ Grown on a saddle of land near the top of Howell Mountain,
this wine ripened to the chocolate-like richness of Medjool dates. Then the tannins take
over, gripping the wine with the cut of volcanic soil, black, ripe and intense. Decant a
bottle for grilled lamb. (567 cases) § -J.G.


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Wine & Spirits - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - June 2020

Contents
Wine & Spirits - June 2020 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - June 2020 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - June 2020 - 1
Wine & Spirits - June 2020 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - June 2020 - 3
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Wine & Spirits - June 2020 - Cover3
Wine & Spirits - June 2020 - Cover4
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