TN: Some Old Amador Zins & Stickies w/ the Sobons..(long/boring)

We tasted some old Amador Zins at Lee&Shirley Sobon’s home in RanchoMurietta on LaborDay:

  1. CarnerosCreek Zin EschenVnyd (14%) 1974: Med.color w/ slight bricking; some cedary/pencilly/oldZin slight briary bit tired complex nose; slight tart tangy/metallic slight briary/Zin flavor w/ light tired tannins; still a bit of Amador briary fruit but pretty much on its last legs.

  1. SutterHome Zin AmadorCnty (Deaver/Ferrero vnyds; 13%) 1974: Light murky/faded color; light cedary/pencilly/oldZin slight briaryy/Zin somewhat tired/faded bit complex nose; soft rather metallic/tangy aged/tired slight briary flavor w/ light metallic tannins; not much left in this wine and pretty tired/faded/gone.

  1. ShenandoahVnyds Zin AmadorCnty (13.9%) 1977: Med.light bit brown color; rather fragrant briary/Zin/spicy some cedary/pencilly/oldZin rather complex somewhat youthful nose; slight tart/metallic some cedary/pencilly/oldZin some briary/spicy/Amador Zin fairly complex flavor w/ light gentle tannins; showing that oldZin character but still has a surprising amount of briary/AmadorZin fruit; my 2’nd favorite of the bunch.

  1. Montevina Zin SpecialSlct (EB; 15%) 1979: Light browning/murky color; bit musty/mousey bit alcoholic/overripe slight woody/wet dog fur tired little fruit nose; soft bit metallic/dried out/tired slight wet dog fur/cedary/pencily/woody no fruit flavor w/ light metallic/tired tannins; pretty tired oldZin and the least of these five Zins.

  1. CortiBros Zin (Upton/Downing vnyds; 14.2%) ScottHarvey 1979: Med.dark some bricking color; somewhat briary/blackberry/AmadorZin rather cedary/pencilly/oak complex beautiful oldZin nose; soft rather briary/blackberry/AmadorZin/quiet some pencilly/cedary smooth/graceful/polished quite complex flavor w/ light smooth/gentle tannins; still a fair amount of briary AmadorZin fruit therein and no signs of its 40 yrs of age; a pure delight to drink; a gentle little old lady who’s quietly fading into the sunset in the twilight of her yrs; going out on her terms.

  1. Montevina Mission del Sol SpecialSelect AmadorCnty (14 1/2%) NV: Med.light bit brown color; some vanilla/Am.oak some raisened/Mission bit sherry-like very complex aged nose; soft rather sweet strong raisened/Mission/grapey quite complex flavor; lots of raisened character but quite complex and a delicious old dessert Mission; some like the Harbor Mission del Sol but a bit less nuanced than Charlie’s.

  1. Santino Riesling SonomaCnty DryBerry Select Hrvst (9.5%; TBA; Hrvstd: 10/22/86 @ 45.0 Brix; TA: 1.1 gm/100 ml; pH: 3.2; RS: 22.1%) ScottHarvey 1988: Very dark brown bit murkey color; intense botrytis/peachy/apricotty/creme brulee quite complex nose; quite sweet bit softer very intense botrytis/peachy/apricotty/dried apricots/creme brulee/butterscotchy slight cedary/oak complex flavor; a wonderful old Calif TBA but not the complexity of the '89.

  1. Santino Riesling TBA SonomaCnty DryBerry Select Hrvst Wine (6%; Hrvstd: 11/12/89; SaH: 48 Brix; TA: 1.2 gm/100 ml; pH: 3.57; RS: 27.7%) ScottHarvey & MikeMontaldo 1989: Very dark/black/PX-like color; beautiful dried apricots/intense botrytis/peachy/apricotty bit cedary/pencilly very complex old TBA terrific nose; quite sweet very tart bit sweet/sour dried apricots/botrytis/peachy/apricotty/creme brulee/butterscotchy very complex flavor; very long/lingering quite sweet very intense botrytis very complex finish; still going strong and has yrs left; one of the best old Calif TBAs I can recall having.

  1. ShenandoahVnyds Riesling TBA (second pressing) 1985: Dark brown/bit murkey/almost PX color; slight metallic/steely some botrytis/apricotty/peachy bit creme brulee slightly tired nose; quite tart fairly sweet some botrytis/apricotty/peachy slightly tired/drying out flavor; not quite the intensity of botrytis and a bit of a metallic character that a dying wine takes on.

  1. ShenandoahVnyds Calif BlackMuscat (EschenVnyd; 16%) 1984: Dark some browning color; some earthy/dusty light muscatty/hair oil/grapey quite complex nose; slightly sweet light muscatty/hair oil/bit grapey some earthy/dusty/root cellar lighter/nuanced fairly complex flavor w/ light smooth tannins; lost much of the one-time intense Muscat character and turned into a quiet complex old Muscat; a delicious cheese wine.

  1. CarnerosCreek Zin LatePicked AmadorCnty (16.7%; EsolaVnyd; Hrvstd: Oct 27/1976; SaH: 32%; RS: 0.6%) 1976: Dark color w/ slight bricking; intense raisened/pruney/very ripe Zin strong blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/briary bit alcoholic some complex nose; fairly dry bit oxidized/tired/dried out very raisened/pruney/overripe some vanilla/oak slight briary/boysenberry/overripe flavor w/ light gentle tannins; still a bit of Zin fruit in there but dominated by the overripe/raisened/pruney character; not really bad but just not very interesting.

  1. CortiBros Cantina Vecchia Calif Apertif Vermouth (18%) P&B by SutterHome NV (ca. 1950): Somewhat browning color; powerfully aromatic some cedary/oak/pencilly slight herbal/medicinal very complex amazing nose; slight oxidized/nutty/bit sherry-like intensely aromatic/bit herbal very complex fairly dry flavor; an amazingly complex wine that kept calling you back for another glass; unbelievable wine.

More piddlcrotz from TheBloodyPulpit:

  1. When I gave LeeSobon a head’s up that I was going to be in the area around LaborDay, he wanted to have me for lunch at their home. Things soon got out of hand & Lee decided to put together a tasting of old Amador Zins. Joining us were Mike&MarthaDunne, Tom & Carolyn Quinn (Tom is the son-in-law, handles sales at SV, Carolyn is their daughter), DarrellCorti, Paul Sobon, and Lee&Shirley. These above wines, mostly from Lee’s cellar, were the ones we tasted. We tasted the five old dry Amador Zins, then Lee & Shirley served us lunch and we continued to revisit the Zins. The lunch was fairly simple but the emphasis was on freshness/lighter fare. Lee&Shirley are vegetarian, so you need to take your own bacon if you dine with them. But lunch was absolutely delicious and really hit the spot.

  1. Of the five old Zins, the CortiBros was my easy favorite; closely followed by the ShenandoahVnyds. The Corti was made at Santino by ScottHarvey from grapes from the UptonRanch, who were the original planters of that vnyd in the 1860’s. It was then sold to JohnDowning who farmed it for a number of yrs. That was when the vnyd was at its nadir, probably. But Scott was buying those grapes from right across SteinerRd (just below Lee’s original ShenandoahVnyds) for Santino. A few yrs later, Scott & Terri Harvey bought the vnyd from JohnDowning and renamed it the GrandPere vnyd, which is now owned & farmed by Terri.
    The '77 was the first commercial release by Lee. It was still very much alive. I was surprised how good a condition it was in and still retained some youthful fruit, given that it was his first release.
    The other three were not totally shot, but were clearly showing the ravages of the ages. Wines of intellectual interest only. I was expecting a lot more from the SutterHome (this was back when they were making great AmadorZin), but such was not to be.
    When tasting 40 yr old wines, as Darrell pointed out, there are not any great old wines, only great old btls. Other btls of these same wines might very well have told a different story.

  1. Dessert wines: One thing I’ve always liked about Lee’s wines is that he’s a big fan of dessert wines. Over the yrs, I’ve had many that have evolved into amazing old dessert wines. They never seem to go bad. His Ports have been particularly good.
    These were an amazing array of old Calif dessert wines. In the '80’s, ScottHarvey was at Santino and interesting in making botrytis dessert Riesling and lined up a source of grapes in SonomaCnty. Scott was sort of a hell-raiser in HS and his Dad (who was a HS schoolteacher) sent him to study in Germany for a year…to straighten him out. He lived with a German family who also made wines. This inculcated a love for Riesling in Scott. He’s has made some terrific Rieslings, both dry & sweet, over the yrs.
    In '85, when at Santino, Scott made his first (I believe) TBA Riesling. After he pressed off the juice, he felt the grapes still had a fair amount of juice in them, so he called up Lee and offered the skins to him. Lee took them, did a 2’nd pressing (may have added some other juice to the skins) and made this '85 Riesling. It didn’t have the intensity of botrytis that Scott’s two TBAs showed.
    I was to have dinner the night before at Taste in Plymouth (maybe the best restaurant in the SierraFoothills) with DeniseEsola and share the CarnerosCreek Esola LatePick with her. Alas, things didn’t work out. So instead of the CC Late Pick, I took in the Santino '89 TBA. I drank about half the half btl and shared the rest w/ the staff. They had never tasted such a wine and a lot came over to thank me for sharing. It was one of the better old Clif TBAs I’ve had and will still go on for yrs.
    The SutterHome Vermouth was a btl that Darrel brought. I didn’t quite get the full story on it, though. It was made during the '50’s, which means it was probably made by MarioTrinchero. One of Darrell’s (or his Dad’s) customers had bought a case and some 25 yrs later, Darrell bought it back from him (or his estate). I’ve no idea what flavorings were used in its production or if Darrell was involved (doubt it) or what grapes were used. But it was an incredible piece of history to taste. I’ve now decided to buy some Calif Vermouths to lay down for 60 yrs and see if they evolve into something like this.

  1. This was an incredible way to spend the LaborDay afternoon…over delicious food, great (by & large) wines, and terrific company. Lee & Shirly are old…errrr…long-time friends an I’m immensely grateful for their hospitality this LaborDay.

Great notes, Tom - thanks for sharing. The Harbor Winery 1975 Deaver Vineyard Zin that fellow Berserker Matt Wood was generous enough to share with a few of us last month would have fit in perfectly with the group of wines you had with the Sobons and friends.

Wow, great notes around what sounds like an incredible night Tom! I love trying older zins, and actually have a few of those in the cellar. Bummed to hear the Carneros Creek didnt show better (I’ve had great luck with older CC wines), and especially that the 74 Sutter Home didnt exactly shine. I have a 3L and am trying to find a reason to open it.

As Darrell relates the story:

The Raina was a Vermouth made from Sagrantino wine by an Italian producer in Montefalco:
that Darrell served at the end of dinner when I was there. No TN’s but I recalled liking it quite a lot. I should be trying more Vermouths I think.