A Friendly Zinfandel, Finally

Medium ruby with tiny clear edges.  Very closed-in at first–just the vaguest floral fruit and banana peel–really quite surprised.  Breathes out to rather elegant black cherry, minerality and a dollop of oak.

I have drank literally GALLONS of this wine.  One of my first go-to cheaper zins in the 90’s and early 2000’s.  I have not had it in probably a decade, but when I saw it again, I instantly knew EXACTLY what it tasted like in my head.  Combine that with the knowledge of where *Zinfandel* has gone in the past 15 years and the prospects of this bottle being something I truly enjoyed became quite slim.  I completely expected a cheap, cloying, fruit-forward, pruney bomb.  It was not to be!

Thin at entry, and then a sophisticated, pure Sonoma, CLASSIC zin through-and-through.  No heat.  No prune.  No over-ripe extraction.  No madeira, no port, no Paso.  A crisp, chalky mouthfeel, thin on the fruit and deliberately acidified. Subdued and balanced, nothing overtly sweet or oxidized or alcoholic to dull the senses.

This wine has NOT progressed with the rest of the Zinfandels from California.  It is clearly mired in the dark ages, along with a label which hasn’t changed a lick in 20 years.  Add a little tannin to this and it could be Dry Creek Valley in the 80’s.  This wine is a time capsule of better Zinfandel times.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, you probably shouldn’t be following my journal, because Zinfandel has taken a DISASTROUS turn in the past 20 years to a form which highlights and underscores everything wrong with the current American wine-drinking public.  The vast majority of Zins on the shelf today have become such a caricature to the variety and bear so little resemblance to what the grape is capable of, it’s honestly embarrassing to be from California.  This, however, is a fabulous Zin.

Absolutely balanced, fruit completely saturated with pure Zin nuance but never showing the ADHD-issues the current crop of hyper-active offerings are so fond of and dismiss as *normal*.  Rosy and round, forever holding something scandalous back.  THIS is a Zinfandel worth drinking now and will benefit from several years of rest.  A bright tannin tries desperately to over-power the fruit in the finish.

2011 DEUX AMIS Zindandel Sonoma Co. 14.5


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