Sunday, September 30, 2007

'04 Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier (Barossa Valley), '04 Bonny Doon Cardinal Zin

In Brief:

2004 Yalumba Barossa Shiraz/Viognier (Barossa Valley) (Wegman's ~$20):
Lighter and brighter than Barrel Monkeys, fruity, floral, and complex - a heady and colorful wine. (RP90)

2004 Bonny Doon Cardinal Zin (California) (Wegman's ~20):
Disappointing, given Ralph Steadman's colorful description. An uninspiring, if unoffending wine.

Tasting Notes:

Both were tasted outdoors, on a still-breezed, warm summer day.

Yalumba Barossa Shiraz/Viognier 2004
Aside from shiraz aromas, the nose had a floral tone (perhaps from the Viognier?). It smells brighter and headier (perhaps because the viognier is a white wine grape, and so has a higher vapor pressure). The initial sweetness is lighter than the Barrel Monkeys. Fruit impressions: pear, nectarine, other light fruits. Between extremely light fruit tones, right before the bite, there is a tinge of a flavor that is unusual and weird - perhaps RP's "glycerin"?<>. Barrel Monkeys had a long finish, with loads of tannins - mouth puckering - a good conclusion to the series of dark, intense flavors. Here, though, there is almost no astringency at the end. There is a acidity right after the initial sweetness which was not there at all, to my recollection, in the Barrel Monkeys - perhaps this acidity contributes to my impression of lightness. An interesting and delicious wine, whose flavors and aromas are communicated with clarity.

"The outstanding 2004 Shiraz/Viognier (95% and 5% respectively) offers an exotic, flamboyant nose of blackberries and flowers along with wonderful intensity, richness, fruit, and glycerin. Enjoy it over the next 3-4 years. Importer: Negociants USA, Napa, CA; tel. (707) 259-0993"

2004 Bonny Doon Cardinal Zin:

The flavors were not as intense as expected. Contrary to what I have read about Zinfandels, it was less alcoholic than the Yalumba, with very little bite. There is a pleasant fruitiness - blackberries and raspberries - yet the flavors are unclear and hard to isolate. The nose seems darker, though with a lemon-rind, perhaps grassy tinge. Its aromas are less heady than the Yalumba - in fact, the alcohol is barely noticeable in the nose, though it is only 0.5% less by volume than the Yalumba (13.5%). Drinkable, unremarkable.

Robert Parker:
"There are just over 13,500 cases of this wine, which should be called "Cardinal Sin" as it is a crisp, tart, lean effort with little fruit. I'm sure the irrepressible Randal Grahm will argue that it reeks of terroir, but, if truth be known, there is little to it. According to the fact sheet, it is a blend of 73% Zinfandel, 13% Carignane, 5% Mourvedre, and dollops of Barbera, Dolcetto, and Freisa. It's a shame one of the wine world's most talented, innovative as well as funny people has become a poster boy for massive quantities of industrial-styled, innocuous wines. -No Rating Given"

Winemaker's Specs

The 2005 blend is 77% zinfandel, of which 77% is grown in the Central Coast. For years we have been buying grapes from this 100 year old sandy vineyard for our Cardinal Zin blend. The warmer climate gives rise to the more classic plum and cherry aromas.

The grapes are handpicked and trucked to Santa Cruz for processing. All of our zinfandel is 100% destemmed. The zinfandel variety by nature has large berry and cluster size. We perform a 20% saigner to help increase the juice ratio in our zinfandel ferments. Through saigner, we achieve a more concentrated wine with rich mouthfeel. During peak ferment the tanks are pumped over and delestaged up to three times a day. The wine is fermented dry and pressed off skins.

After primary fermentations, we blended 13% carignane and 4% mourvedre to complete the blend. The wine goes through a malolactic fermentation and is aged in 3,000 gallon wood tanks for 8 months. We aged about 20% of the wine on medium toast oak dominos for 4 months. The oak treatment contributes a clove spice character and soft vanilla character which helps to balance out the final blend. Before bottling, we lightly filter the wine.

All this treatment and still the wine fails to please - perhaps it was "eviscerated" by filtering!

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