Shortly after my arrival to ye olde shoppe today a kindly salesman with a pleasant accent presented some of his fine wares. Sadly those fine wares happened to be, amongst other things, a number of wines from Rosenblum Cellars. I don’t know what their pedigree or history is exactly, but what I tasted today was an egregious mess of juice.
The cheapest bottle smelled like grapes macerated in a bucket with some sea water and oysters, while the higher end bottlings attained a respectable, and restrained, alcohol level pushing about 16% by volume. It was like a good port, except not from Portugal... and it tasted bad.
Those flavors still in mind and wreaking havoc on what little respect I had left for zinfandel, respect only being kept afloat by a few producers (Ridge & Proulx come to mind) one could imagine my concerns when we decided to open two new bottles we had just brought in to the store; 1. Dashe Les Enfants Terribles 2010 Heart Arrow Ranch zin from Mendocino and 2. same schtick as before but their 2011 McFadden Farm Potter Valley zin.
Their were hints though that I would soon be tasting something far different from the Rosenblums. One, the alcohol on the two wines are 13.8% and 13.6% respectively. Two, 100% Zinfandel with native yeast fermentation. Their website is full of info, my favorite bit is about their using, get this, old oak! Big old oak barrels! Not heavy toast, not 24 months in new American oak, there was a chance these wines were going to taste like actual fruit, not wood!
Without any more rambling proclamations I’ll just say the wines were great. The 2010 Heart Arrow Ranch at times while tasting it reminded me of good Beaujolais; specifically, but not identically, it reminded me of a California take on Moulin-a-vent from Domaine Diochan. There was fruit, tannin, and acidity. Going back to the glass later I pulled something a little more akin to older sangiovese. There’s a theme though, zinfandel that actually has acidity, some might say balance perhaps.
The Mcfadden Farm zin from 2011 was also very good, but a little softer and more fruit driven. What I did especially appreciate about it though was under that primary, and slightly soft, fruit. There was a notion of something slightly green a-la cabernet franc from the Saumur or Chinon, just a notion mind you.
All I can say is, thank you Dashe Cellars for renewing my hope in zinfandel.