Wine

The top zins and cabs of Sonoma

 
 
Big winner: Mazzocco zins received  multiple gold medals.
Big winner: Mazzocco zins received multiple gold medals.

fredtaskerwine@gmail.com

The hot days and cool nights of California’s Sonoma County create ideal conditions for red wines. The heat builds hearty ripeness; the evening respite protects the crisp acids that make the wines lively and balanced.

This was demonstrated at the September Sonoma Harvest Fair wine judging. I was on the tasting panel for zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon, among others, and we awarded a lot of gold medals.

A top winner for zinfandels was Mazzocco Sonoma Winery of Healdsburg, Calif., which scored three “best of class,” double gold and gold medals in the $25-to-$35 category.

The top cabernet sauvignon my panel tasted was by Forchini Vineyards & Winery, a small family operation in Healdsburg.

Some of these wines, especially those made in small quantities, may not be available in all markets. To find them, go to the winery’s website and find the “store locator” tab. In most cases, you can also buy the wines online.

Zinfandels

Best of class: 2011 Mazzocco Sonoma Winery “Briar” Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley: big, rich, hearty black raspberry and bittersweet chocolate aromas and flavors, spicy and full-bodied; $29.

Double gold: 2011 Mazzocco Sonoma Winery Zinfandel, Sonoma County: subtle, pure black plum aromas and flavors, medium body, excellent balance; $26.

Other gold-medal winners:

• 2011 Mazzocco Sonoma Winery “Beasley” Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley: black cherry and bittersweet chocolate aromas and flavors, spicy, balanced; $34.

• 2009 Deerfield Ranch Winery Zinfandel, Sonoma County: hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black raspberries, hearty and crisp; $30.

• 2009 Selby Winery “Old Vines” Zinfandel, Sonoma County: hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black plums, hearty and full-bodied; $26.

• 2011 Dry Creek Vineyard “Old Vines” Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley: hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black cherries, big, dry and rich, with ripe tannins; $30.

• 2011 Mill Creek Vineyards Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley: hint of cedar and menthol, black plum flavors, firm tannins, lean; $28.

• 2011 deLorimier Winery Zinfandel, Alexander Valley: hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black cherries and bittersweet chocolate, full-bodied; $30.

• 2010 West Coast Wine Partners “Valley of the Moon” Zinfandel, Sonoma County: hint of oak, black cherry aromas and flavors, dry and hearty, big, ripe tannins; $30.

• 2012 Little Vineyards Family Winery Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley: menthol aromas, black cherry flavors, rich, dry and hearty, with big, ripe tannins; $30.

• 2011 Pech Merle Winery “Treborce Vineyard” Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley: black raspberry and bittersweet chocolate aromas and flavors, spicy and concentrated; $29.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Best of class: 2010 Forchini Vineyards Proprietors’ Reserve Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley: aromas and flavors of black cherries and espresso, big tannins, concentrated; $32.

Double gold: 2009 Clos du Bois Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley: hint of cedar, aromas and flavors of sweet black plums, big, ripe tannins, good balance; $28.

Other gold medal winners:

• 2010 Wilson Winery Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, “Sydney Vineyards,” Dry Creek Valley: sweet black cherry and vanilla flavors, soft tannins; $34.

• 2010 Kendall-Jackson Estate Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County: toasty aromas, flavors of cassis and bittersweet chocolate, assertive acids and tannins, spicy; $30.

• 2010 Mazzocco Sonoma Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley: soft, lush black cherry aromas and flavors, powerful tannins, balanced; $30.

• 2011 Frei Brother Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley: concentrated cassis flavors, dry, balanced; $27.

Fred Tasker writes about wine for the McClatchy New Service. Contact him at fredtaskerwine@gmail.com.

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