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The DeLoach Zins...... wow!! Truly Out-f-standing Zins. Ol' Cecil
has a history of muffing it on the odd yrs; '89 (but excusable, rainy yr),
'91, '93 were all on the rather light & lean side. But not this time!!
These are all absolutely killer Zins. The "regular" Zin is probably
the best "regular" Zin Cecil has made, and I've followed them all from
the very start in the '70's. What's really amazing about these wines is
they all have fairly high alcohol levels.... but they don't taste overripe/raiseny/pruney
at all and they are all dry (as best I can tell). Just incredible extracted
but very balanced Zins. It will be interesting to see if they turn overripe
& alcoholic as the age. The prices seem reasonable for their quality;
especially the Papera which was mispriced by the distributor. These all
are even better than his '94's; those Zins had a rather hard/acid/tart
streak to them, which means they will be good agers. These '95's were a
bit softer & lusher, but still had more acid than most Zins of that
The Alban wines: John Alban is really making superb Rhone wines, to my
judgement. His early wines were on the hard & tannic & mean side,
with a bit too much oak, but very interesting & showing lots of potential.
His more recent ones have shown much more skillful winemaking & understanding
of the grapes, plus greater maturity in the vnyds. The Reva/Syrah '94 is
his best yet; but quite atypical of Calif Syrah in that it doesn't
have that lush blackberry character. In fact, this is the most Rhone-like
wine I've EVER had from Calif; not that smokey/roasted character of Northern
Rhone/Cote- Rotie but more earthy/dusty Southern Rhone, much like great
Cornas or Gigondas. Most of my people did not like the Grenaches, but I
thought them to be the best Grenaches yet made in the USofA; big serious
Rhone-like wines; not yet Ch. Rayas, but in the right direction. Most Calif
Grenache tend to be softer, lighter, much more frivolous style of wines.
Craig Williams at Joseph Phelps also has a '95 Grenache in barrel (probably
all will go into LeMistral & Pastiche) that's pretty amazing. I've
had some old WashState Grenache made by David Lake @ Columbia that was
awfully good. Grenache is another variety that will someday make great
wine in Calif.
The Sierra Vistas: Again, John MacReady continues to make better &
better Syrahs. The RedRockRidge is one of his best yet. That earthy/dusty/mushroomy
quality that ElDorado reds tend to have makes for quite Rhone-like wines.
Steve Edmunds of Edmunds St.John is another believer in ElDorado fruit.