2012 Steele Zinfandel, Lake County, Catfish Vineyard

Very dark ruby color, almost black. Heady aromas are enticing, with black fruit, Asian spices and hints of Mediterranean herbs. The aromas give a preview of plenty of pepper to come.
The palate offers a dense, blocky texture, with plenty of ripe tannins and relatively low acidity. There is good balance, with more power than heat, despite the 15.25% alcohol. The flavors feature a little more black fruit (blackberry, black raspberry) than green herbs, with the spices in the background. This is a beautiful, balanced, bold, in-your-face Zin, lacking the briar and heat but offering plenty of body, warmth and surprisingly subtlety. Rated 92.5, ready to drink but should hold and evolve over at least another 3 years.

Dan Kravitz