||And the usual sophistry from the bloody pulpit:
Monte Rosso Zin: A number of wineries (Ridge,Ravenswood,Biale,Stephen Ross)
have been making Zins from the Martini's Monte Rosso vnyd for a number
of yrs now. I have been singularly unimpressed w/ those Zins thus far.
They seem to all have a bright raspberry/Zin fruit in the nose, but they
also seem to have a hard/lean/ tart/tannic mean little streak on the palate.
They seem to lack the lushness & richness I like to find in Zinfandel.
I just was not convinced that Monte Rosso was a great, or even, significant,
Zinfandel vnyd. I'm starting to change my view on Monte Rosso. I was quite
impressed w/ the evolution of the noses on both the '95 & '96 versions.
These were pretty underwhelming wines, to me, on their release. Especially
in comparison w/ the other Zins in the Ravenswood stable. But I'm starting
to see evidence that they may develop into pretty good Zins w/ more age
& may, actually, be pretty long lived. They're still pretty tight/
hard/lean lean on the palate; but the noses are wonderful. It may be that
MR is much like Eschen Zin; never very rich & lush but a Zin that ages
quite well and develops marvelous aromatics. We'll take more data points.
DickersonZins: In the '80's, the DickersonVnyd Zin was one of the Ravenswood
flagship Zins, right up there w/ the Old Hill. It was big, extracted, and
loaded w/ minty/menthol/ eucalyptus character. Thru the early-mid '90's,
the Dickersons have been a bit on the weak side; primarily due to replanting
for phylloxera I understand. This '97 Dickerson is not as big & minty
as many from the '80's, but it probably is the best Dickerson since about
the '90 and, hopefully, marks a return to form for this vnyd.
The vintages: The '95 vintage has been widely trumpeted by experts as the
last outstanding Zinfandel vintage. By and large, those wines are showing
very well these days; and these Ravenswoods are no exceptions. None of
them showed signs of starting to fade. The '96 vintage was widely dissed
as a mediocre Zin vintage, producing rather tart and lean kind of Zins.
I recall these Ravenswoods being a bit on that side a year ago, but felt
they showed the usual Ravenswood style and extract. By and large, many
of those '96's are developing wonderfully fragrant/aromatic noses and turning
into quite nice Zins, better than I expected them to. The '97 vintage was
widely heralded as a great Zin vintage in the fermenting vats. But, probably
because of the very large jump in yield; the wines have shown a lot of
forward/plush fruit but not the tannins or structure to carry them very
far out; a vintage to drink up early. That is NOT what I found in these
'97's of Joel's. They, to me, show no weakness or dilutness that one would
expect from a high-production year. They have all the intensity and extract
and grip that I usuall find in Joel's single vnyd Zins. In fact, of the
major Zinfandel producers I follow; I would say that Joel Peterson did
better in 1997 than any of the rest of them. A great batch of Ravenswood
I've followed Joel Peterson's wines from the very start, when I was buying
them from Draper & Esquins from Rene Rondeau. In fact, I first met
Joel (remember it well... he was dressed in this scruffy plaid flannel
shirt, blue jeans, and big belt w/ a big brass buckle on it.... he looked
a bit younger then!!) down at Phil Reich's tiny wine shop down in the Financial/Embarcadero
district when he was still making wine w/ Joe Swan and Phil admonished
me to keep my eyes on this guy's Zins. Little did I know at that time (ca.
1975). just how long I'd be peering over Joel's sholder at his efforts!!
His early wines were huge/extracted/heavily Fr.oaked, much in the style
Joe Swan was doing in the early '70's. Many of them tended to be on the
volatile/fumey side but seemed to age well nonetheless, thank you. Since
then, he's learned a lot about restraint & balance in his winemaking.
It seems to me that he's making probably the best wines of his career,
based on this batch of '97's. They'll be fun to watch evolve; I'll be taking
more data points.
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