Russian River Valley AVA, CA
$7 at the Long Beach, CA, store on 2 June
Suckered by the nice label, RRV AVA, cellaring and bottling in Napa and the fact I was grilling and hadn’t had a good Old Vine Zin in a while, I picked up this bottle without any research.
Aerated into the glass, this wine (somehow) first came off as extremely flavorless, poorly structured, and hot, which at 16% ABV is somewhat understandable. Something obviously dulled my palate initially, and it was an odd sensation to get little nose out of the wine freshly poured and tasted shortly thereafter. The wine has nice, bright fruit on the nose and flavors typical of an old vine zin with jammy berry overtones dominating the palate with a very luscious mouthfeel until the hit of alcohol overwhelms through the finish. 2.5-3 hours in, this wine really sorted itself out nicely, and it came together with less of the sharp delineation between the mid-palate and finish I experienced shortly after opening. 4 hours in, it started to fall apart a bit, with some of the nice ripe flavors muting themselves, so I stoppered the rest of the bottle for the next night.
The achilles heel for me, however, and something that overshadowed some of the wine’s positive assets, is the amount of oak used, something that came through predominantly even on night 2 as I returned to it again. This isn’t a terrible effort by any means, but if you’re sensitive to oak, this is likely not a wine you would enjoy. The wine had fallen apart for me by night 3 and any structure was pretty much gone.
Overall, I was torn on this one. On one hand, you have a wine with some nice characteristics for a 16% ABV Old Vine Zin, and wonderful, elegant front end mouthfeel once it has been open a while, but betrayed by its finishing characteristics (harsh) and a lot of wood. For my tastes, mostly due to the tough structure, it’s not a repeat buy.
For sleuths, there is very little info online on this wine short of some comments in the What’s New section of this site. It turns out that it falls under the Smith-Anderson Wine Group umbrella, who makes Havens wine that has appeared at GO here and there, and Stonehedge, which I recognize as a pretty decent QPR wine carried at Trader Joes and Big Lots over the years: http://www.sa-napavalley.com/index.html