Every time I am handed Paso Zinfandel, it’s impossible not to roll the eyes a bit. If any wine region EPITOMIZES the issues I have with current zin–and loyal readers will note I have written tomes on the subject–Paso Robles is the poster-child. If Zinbitch, Zinful and Zintastic have a meme, Paso is it. The BIGGER IS BETTER crowd, hi-alc shoppers and fruit-FWD sweet-tooth addicts have a HAVEN in Paso Zin, and these classic pigeon-holes I am happy to see waning as Rhone–and even Cabernet–production takes the headlines currently in the region: bringing world-class recognition to the byline of “Paso Robles”. But there are bright spots with the variety–even as the cargo-short and MissMe jean crowd line up to chug their syrupy elixir of choice.
Dark ruby in the glass but not impenetrable. Substantial legs pull off a near-non-existent edge. Baked black cherry, early-fall blackberry wound with spiderwebs of rich briar and moderate grapefruit minerality amongst slight vegetal and baked earth. It’s rich. It’s full and ripe. It’s easy 15-oh. But it is also fairly classic Zin, basking in California sunshine and plenty of the plummy characteristics of the variety.
Tasting it does not insult you: something quite common in modern Zin. Streamlined and clean, it packs chubby cherry and bruised berry in on a foundation of structure going beautiful places over the middle. Tannin and acid have a hard time cutting through the dessert-like punctuality of the fruit, but it lies awake at night finding ways to solidify the wine. Grippy bitter elegance bestow an almost cab-like formality to all the plumminess and perceived sweetness, and beautiful tinges of Luxardo seal the tannic finish–one where heat merely presents itself as peppery goodness.
A remarkable Zinfandel, one casting memories back to Dry Creek Valley in the early 90’s. Ridiculously young, this is one for the cellar. It has YEARS to go. It’s important not to instantly write off the fleshy concentration, ripeness and alcohol, but look for balanced structural goodness lurking. Good Zin can overcome that. This is one of those wines. I want to taste this in 10 years.
2019 BROCHELLE Zinfandel Paso Robles 15.3