Another good article by Jon Bonné

… on Sonoma Zinfandel.

I love the way he characterizes a Bedrock Old Vine - “The wine is joyous and studious at the same time, a celebration of Zinfandel’s majesty.”

These are good times for California’s noble grape and most venerable vineyards.

[Apologies to Ian Doran for the title plagiarism]

Thanks for posting the article Mike. Definitely some in there I would like to try. There is a line in there that really spoke to Bonne’s bias in wine: Anything different is good. I read his book and I felt that this was sort of unspoken throughout that text, where he tended to pick wineries with interesting story lines over just picking the winery with the best juice.

Talkin’ Sonoma Zin and not mentioning Von Weidlich vineyard and Radio Coteau seems an omission to me.

Nice article, and of course many of Jon’s “usual suspects” on his list of wines but a few surprises too. Glad to see Acorn’s Zin listed there - I hadn’t tried many of their wines before visiting in late December but I was impressed. Their Zin is a field blend based on an 1890s vineyard block, and the 2011 release includes 18 grape varieties.
Acorn Winery visit

Acorn’s Alegría Vineyard is one of the registered vineyards on Mike’s Historic Vineyard Society site:
Alegría Vineyard, Russian River Valley

no A. Rafanelli, Carlisle or Martinelli? [wow.gif]

Wish he’d included Scherrer OMV. Really good and a true QPR if bought on futures.

Definitely omissions, but i think you need to submit wines to be written up.

Excited about the Suacci Carciere Zin mention. That is one of my favorite wines that I have been a part of making.


Regarding Scherrer, Bonné once said, “When Fred sends wines, I’ll be happy to try them.” So there you go.

This article cost me money- bought Hobo Zins & Grenache (bought last 3 at K&L).

Hmmmm…RanchoZabaco and BuenaVista are different and have interesting story lines (well…maybe CountHaraszthy counts).
I thought it was a reasonably diverse list. Of course, there will be some omissions of some folks favorites.

On occasion Even Parker bought wine on the open market to be sure to cover wine that was not sent.

It’s up to Bonne if he wants to be the CA maven.

+1. More diverse than I’d expect after reading Bonne’s book, which was good to see. There were a few new-to-me wines on this list I’l have to try.

I’ve sourced fruit from Rancho Zabaco before. Nice to see it getting some belated positive press!

I fear the writing is already on the wall for this self-styled IPOB apparatchik. He likes wineries that buddy up to him and/or wineries he perceives as “different,” hoping along the way to separate himself from the pack. I hope this is only an awkward phase in the process of finding his voice. While I certainly share affection for some of his faves, I think he has yet to become a truly dependable source.

Should I have said “Another incomplete article by Jon Bonné because he didn’t review every single wine out there”?

No one is more of a Fred Scherrer fan than I am, but there are limits to a newspaper wine-writer’s time and financial resources. Just my personal opinion, but I think Bonné makes an outstanding contribution.

I don’t think that is totally fair to say. I have gotten lots of good press from Jon over the years for Zepaltas and Suacci Carciere. I have maybe spoken to him a total of 7 minutes in 10 years. We have had short conversations here and there at different events throughout time, but I never felt “buddy buddy” with the guy. I send in samples like any other winery would, and occasionally exchange a short email.

Yup…totally agree, Mike. With WS or CGCW article on Calif Zin, you sorta expect some sort of near-comprehensive
coverage of the Zin field. But w/ limited space in a newspaper column, you can only expect a sort of
scatter-shot coverage of the field.
I would have included the DryCreekVnyd HeritageVine Zin for being so deelish at a great price (around $16).
But so be it…what would I know??

So, somebody help me as the more I think about this article (and, to be fair, other articles about Zin by other wine writers), the more confused I am making myself. Here are some of my questions, limited to this article for the moment:

  1. Jon seem to decry Zinfandel’s populism. “Much Zin was intended to be a glassful of snob repellent.” and “And if you’ve been shying away - if strong applications of snob repellent exiled you to Pinotland - this is a time to explore once again.” – Is being populist a bad thing? I’d think for a grape type being popular would be a good thing. I hear a lot of people on this Board wanting wine to be great QPR…isn’t that populist?---- And color me further confused when Jon says that by Zin becoming populist, less snobby, it made it less popular. Was that true? – I haven’t been able to find sales numbers but I am not sure it was.

  2. Is it odd to be writing in a newspaper, traditionally the most populist of mediums, that populism is a bad thing? What’s the audience?

  3. Is it odd to say that Zinfandel is “shifting to its classic roots”? I was under the impression that much of Zinfandel’s classic roots were populist – once being the most planted grape in all of California. Foppiano and Pedroncelli allowing you to bring jugs and fill them yourself, etc. Getting away from populism (good or bad) certainly doesn’t seem like Zin’s classic roots.


Adam Lee
Siduri Wines and Novy Family Winery

Adam, I’m not even sure which nit you are picking. [cheers.gif]

Populism and popular share a root but have different meanings. Populism aims at seeking to represent the interests of “ordinary” people. Bartles and James was populist. I suppose it could be argued that the trend of making zins ever bigger and sweeter was populist. In this case, one could say that making ordinary people people rather than wine lovers happy would be populist, and still a negative trend (for wine lovers anyway).

Regarding QPR - Good QPR wines have Quality as the numerator, which is very different than appealing to ordinary people (populist). I guess it could be argued that the denominator, Price, is related to populism, but it is a reach to claim they are the same.

Newspapers can be populist and aim at, say, uneducated people, these tend to be tabloids. Or they can choose to appeal to the better educated, or be balanced; these tend to be broadsheets. But I don’t think it’s fair to call all newspapers populist. Err, I am carefully avoiding politics here. neener

Hope things are well, and you are getting plenty of rain!

I do think he’s saying that populist wine making is bad, don’t think that’s weird coming from a newspaper (see many food critics who focus their praise on restaurants 75%+ of the population can’t afford) and don’t think it’s odd to say that Zin is shifting to its classic roots if he’s talking about style (ripeness, oak) rather than whether it’s widely planted or appeals to the average wine drinker.

Just thought I’d add that I think Siduri / Novy could be called popular, and certainly good QPR, but I doubt you are very populist. Ordinary people prefer $7 wine and Bud. Nothing wrong with that, either, but I also doubt they visit wine bulletin boards.