WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

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WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby TomHill » Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:03 pm

We tried the other week (5/24/06) some New Zins:
1. DryCreekVnyd BeesonRanch/DryCreekVlly Zin (14.5%) 2002: Dark color; lovely bright
raspberry/Zinberry very spicy bit licorice/peppery bit vanilla/AmOak nose; rather tart/
cranberry bery bright Zinberry/raspberry light licorice/Am.oak flavor; slight tannic rather
tart bright raspberry/cranberry finish that needs several yrs; a bright/vibrant/exhuberent
class DryCreekVlly Zin. $28.00
________________________
2. DryCreekVnyd SomersRanch/DryCreekVlly Zin (14.5%; http://www.DryCreekVineyard.com) 2003: Dark color;
very bright/vibrant raspberry/Zinberry/spicy slight chocolaty/ripe light Am.oak nose; very tart
bright Zinberry/raspberry/licorice/ripe quite spicy light Am.oak bit tannic flavor; very long
tart bright raspberry/Zinberry light chocolaty light Am.oak finish w/ some tannins; needs
several yrs. $30.00
________________________
3. DryCreekVnyd OldVine/SonomaCnty Zin (80+ yrs; 14.5%) 2003: Dark color; strong spicy/cedary/
vanilla/oaked some raspberry/blackberry/ripe bit peppery lovely Zin nose; soft bit tannic
fairly cedary/vanilla/oaked/toasty complex ripe/blackberry/raspberry/Zin dusty/old vine flavor;
med.long bit tannic cedary/pencilly/toasty/oak ripe blackberry/peppery finish; needs several
yrs; bigger/richer more oak & riper than the first two. $27.00
________________________
4. Nalle SonomaCnty/DryCreekVlly Zin (13.9%; http://www.NalleWinery.com) 2004: Med.color; very pretty
bright/Zinberry/raspberry classic DCV/Zin light peppery/pencilly/oak nose; tart bright/Zinberry/
raspberry balanced/zippy light cedary/pencilly/oak flavor; med.long bright/Zinberry/raspberry
light oak finish w/ light tannins; a pretty/classic Nalle/balanced/bright Zin. $29.00
________________________
5. Radio-Coteau Weidlich/RussianRvrVlly Zin (220 cs; http://www.RadioCoteau.com; U/U; 15.4%)
2004: Dark color; lovely/beautiful very bright/spicy/vibrant/raspberry/blackberry/Zin dusty/
old vine light pencilly/oak nose; very tart very bright/shimmery very raspberry/spicy dusty/
old vines bit tannic flavor; very long/lingering dusty/old vine bright/raspberry/very spicy
finish w/ some tannins; beautiful exhuberent Zin; bit pricey at $38.00
________________________
6. ThePines OldVine Zin ColumbiaVlly (15.8%) LonnieWright/Newberg/OR 2002: Dark color; rather
earthy/dusty very unusual/non-Zin some overripe quite toasty/charred/oak slight blackberry/
boysenberry nose; soft quite tarry/pungent/toasty/roasted earthy/dusty slight blackberry/
licorice rather overripe/prunish flavor; long very soft/overripe/prunish quite tarry/charred/
oak finish w/ light tannins; kinda interesting if bizarre Zin but a bit too overripe. $33.00
________________________
7. PepperTreeWines OrangeRegion/OZ Zin (14.0%; http://www.PepperTreeWines.com.Au) 2004: Med.color; very
strong minty/eucalyptus slight raspberry/Zin interesting nose; light spicy/raspberry/Zin very
minty/eucalyptus flavor; med.short some minty/eucalyptus very light raspberry/Zin finish w/
little tannins; lots of eucalyptus but on the light side; interesting/pretty Zin. $25.00
________________________
8. KangarillaRoad McLarenVale Zin (15.5%; http://www.KangarillaRoad.com) 2003: Med.color; bit tired/
cedary/oaked little fruit rather old-style Martini nose; slight eucalyptus tired/light/raspberry/
Zin somewhat cedary/oaked flavor; med.short cedary/oaked tired/washed-out little fruit finish
w/ little tannins; like some of the old Gemello or Pedroncelli Zins in the '70's; pretty
dull & lifeless; waaaay overpriced at $36.00
________________________
9. BrownEstate Zin NapaVlly (15.4%) 2004: Med.color; very ripe/blackberry/Zin bit toasty/Fr.oak
slight volatile/alcoholic/hot nose; soft/fat very ripe/blackberry/Zin some toasty/oak very
ripe/overripe (off-dry?) flavor; med. soft/fat overripe/blackberry/Zin bit hot/fumey/alcoholic
some toasty/oak finish w/ some tannins; way overpriced at $36.00
________________________
10. Williams-Selyem FeeneyVnyd/RussianRvrVlly Zin (14.9%; http://www.WilliamsSelyem.com) 2004: Black color;
very overripe/alcoholic intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin slight earthy light oak nose;
soft/fat very intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin rather hot/fumey/volatile/alcoholic light oak
flavor; very long intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin hot/fumey/alcoholic finish w/ fair tannins;
pretty over-the-top and overripe; way overpriced at $48.00
________________________
11. Carlisle DryCreekVlly Zin (15.9%; Planted: 1885-1954; 25% PS; 360 cs) 2004: Black color;
beautiful intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/spicy light toasty/oak nose; soft/rich/lush
intense spicy/blackberry/boysenberry/ripe/Zin some toasty/oak mouthfilling flavor; very long/
lingering intense/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/spicy light toasty finish w/ some tannins; needs
some 2-6 yrs; more like RRV than DCV Zin; huge/intense Zin that carries the alcohol well.
$29.00
________________________
12. Carlisle SonomaCnty Zin Fava/Mounts/Teldschi vnyds/DryCreekVlly/RussianRvrVlly (23%
RRV Syrah; 210 cs; 15.8%) 2004: Very dark color; lovely very spicy/bright/raspberry/blackberry/
Zinberry nose; tart bright/Zinberry/raspberry/very spicy slight alcoholic loads of Zin fruit
flavor; long bright/Zinberry/raspberry/spicy finish w/ light tannins; needs another yr or two;
loads of bright Zin fruit; very attractive wine; alcohol shows a bit here. $22.50
________________________
13. Carlisle FavaRanch/RussianRvrVlly Zin (15.9%; Planted: 1922; PS/Syrah; 250 cs) 2004: Dark
color; beautiful huge/blackberry/boysenberry/licorice/chocolaty light toasty/oak nose; rich/
intense/mouthfilling blackberry/licorice/boysenberry very spicy some tannic some toasty/oak
flavor; very long/lingering rich/ripe intense boysenberry/blackberry/Zin/licorice bit peppery/
earthy some toasty/oak finish w/ fair tannins; needs 3-8 yrs of age; killer Zin w/ loads of
blackberry/RRV Zin character. Great price at $26.50
________________________
14. Carlisle Pietro'sRanch/RussianRvrVlly Zin (15.9%; BarbieriRanch; Planted: 1905;
PS/AlicanteBouchet/GrandNoir/Carignane/Grenache/Syrah; 170 cs) 2004: Very dark color; very
exotic/herbal aromatic/perfumed intense blackberry/boysenberry/licorice spicy/peppery some
toasty/oak complex/dusty/old vine nose; tart rich/intense blackberry/boysenberry/framboise/Zin/
licorice some pungent/toasty/oak complex/dusty/old vine fairly tannic flavor; very long/
lingering intense/extracted blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/spicy/licorice light toasty/oak finish
w/ ample tannins; needs 3-8 yrs; shows more dusty/old vine character; killer Zin. $31.50
________________________
15. Carlisle TomFeenyRanch/RussianRvrVlly Zin (Planted: 1926; 15.9%; + PS/AlicanteBouchet/
GrandNoir; 175 cs) 2004: Black color; very intense/huge fruit blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/
framboise/licorice/chocolate some toasty/oak complex/powerful/perfumed nose; rich/lush/extracted
very intense/boysenberry/blackberry/Zin/framboise/licorice some pungent/toasty/oak very
perfumed rather tannic flavor; very long/lingering extracted/mouth-coating huge/blackberry/
boysenberry/licorice/Zin some toasty/pungent rather tannic finish; a huge beat of a wine that'll
probably go 10-15 yrs; a dynamite wine and my favorite. $32.50
_______________________________________________________________________________________
A the usual blatherings from the BloodyPulpit:
1. DryCreekVnyds: I have, of course, followed Dave Stare's wines from the very start; that being
the '72 Gamay Beaujolais and the '73 Chenin Blanc and Fume Blanc. His first Zins ('73) were
pretty little things, rather on the light side. Recently, under Bill Knuttle's winemaking,
their Zins have taken a really up-tick in quality I think. They are, to me, the epitome of
classic DryCreekVlly Zin. I really liked the Somers and Beeson Ranch Zins, mostly for their
tart/bright/exhuberent Zinfandel fruit. The OldVine Zin used to be an inexpensive part of the
Zinfandel line. With this '03 version, they've upped the price considerably and up-scaled the
packaging. It is, I think, a far better wine than it used to be; with more intensity and oak
than before. It's nice to sit down and have a glass of an old friend.
________________________
2. vonWeidlich Zin: This is a very old vnyd just north of Occidental. Stupid place to grow Zin.
In the early '70's, this is the same vnyd that Ridge sourced their Occidental Zins from. The
wines were huge/intense classic Bennion-style Zins. Like some of us, they were legends in their
own time. However, in the mid-'70's, Draper finally gave up on this vnyd because it was such
a struggle to ripen the grapes and the wines often had a searing acidity to them.
Not sure where the grapes went in the intervening yrs until Eric Sussman started taking
them. But his rendition of these grapes is totally different from what Ridge's was. It is
a much lighter/brighter Zin; yet it still shows the unique character of vonWeidlich vnyd.
Maybe it's that terroir-thing again.
________________________
3. Oz Zin: These two were my first experience w/ any Oz Zins. Was not impressed.
________________________
4. CarlisleZins: Whatta lineup of Zins this was from Mike. Although the alcohol levels are high,
I thought they all carried the alcohol very well and none showed an overripe character that
you'd expect from the 15%+ levels. The SonomaCnty Zin was probably the weakest of the five,
but it'd blow away any Zin I can recall in the low $20's. The Feeny was clearly the biggest
most intense of the Zins, but the Pietro and the Fava were right close behind. Those who missed
out on the Feeny should not fret at all if you have the Fava or Pietro or the DryCreek.
These are all very big/extracted huge fruit Zin but at no time to you sense they are over-
extracted or made big just for the sake of bigness.
All in all, a killer release of Zins from Mike. Lots of good drinking to look forward to.
Tom
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:27 pm

What, no rant from the pulpit this time around!!
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Bob Henrick » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:36 pm

Tom, do you think that for the most part zinfandel has outstripped it's value? I mean when zinfandel is priced above the $40 range it is completely in a range that I won't pay. As much as I love the Ridge zins, I find it hard to shell out a 35 dollar bill for one. I loved the Doug Nalle zins at $20, not so fond of them pushing $30. Dry Creek Valley wines, sometimes I wonder just what they are? I suppose that I won't be buying a lot of zinfandel in the next few years, and at my age, it might signal a dire thing. :-(
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Mike Conner » Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:13 pm

Bob Henrick wrote: I find it hard to shell out a 35 dollar bill for one.


Impossible is the word that comes to mind!

To the topic at hand, I also have difficulty paying much over $25 for zins - the only ones I do (and only a couple of bottles per offering) is Turley - mainly due to tax and shipping rates. Have not purchased a Ridge in quite some time.

Luckily, my current favorite zin(s) is from Scherrer, and I'm lucky to be offered his 'futures' pricing for them. Makes the wines an even kinder bargain.

Thanks,

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Would Agree, Bob...

Postby TomHill » Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:26 pm

That for the most part, the prices of Zins are not commensurate w/ their value. For me, the real values still lie in the Syrah market. I pretty much buy all the Ridges, still, because I have a soft spot in my heart for them. And the Carlisles are, I feel, some of the best values out there and don't have a problem w/ $30/btl. But there are a bunch at $35-$75/btl that I buy to have in tastings, but would NEVER by for my own personal consumption.
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby James Roscoe » Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:43 pm

I'm with Bob, these zins seem expensive. I would have a hard time paying more than $20 for a zin. Am I living in a dream world?
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:35 pm

James Roscoe wrote:I'm with Bob, these zins seem expensive. I would have a hard time paying more than $20 for a zin. Am I living in a dream world?


Perhaps. ;-)

Seems to me the issue here is that Zin used to fall in a lower price range than what at the time were more sought-after varieties. You could get plonkish Zin for half the price of plonkish Cabernet, top-rank Zin for one-fourth the price of top-rank Cabernet. (I'm estimating and rounding, but you get the drift.)

Over time - accelerating in the 1990s - Zin caught up with the pack. But is it really fair to complain that we now pay as much for a CalZin as a CalCab? Only if you assert that Zin is intrinsically a less worthy variety. That may be a fair assertion, but it's appropriate to recognize it if that's what we're saying.

The more troubling issue, it seems to me - and this is a development that's probably more appropriately laid at Parker's and the Speck's doors than some of the other charges against them - is that fine wine has become increasingly a high-end luxury consumer good in the past generation. As recently as the '80s, most fine everyday wines sold under $6, and anything over $10 was a real rarity. I'd bet that it wouldn't take much research to prove that all wine above the mass-market niche has increased in price far beyond the overall rate of consumer inflation since 1980.

That's something to complain about. But I find it harder to object that Paul Draper shouldn't get the same reward for his work as the Harlans (for example) do for theirs, just because he chose to work with a different grape.
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby James Roscoe » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:47 pm

Robin,
Would you stop being reasonable?!!! I wanted to rant about the price of good zinfandel. Although I'm not sure the Speck or Parker are as much at fault here as the lemmings who rush out aqnd buy up everything that scores 88 points. It's not the gods you should be mad at but their fanatical followers. I'm afraid that's true with most religions. It's especially true with things that were never meant to be religions in the first place.
Cheers!
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Bob Henrick » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:15 pm

Ultimately, the only one I can speak for is me. And, for me there are not any zins out there worth paying $40 for much less $75. Having said that there are damn few cabernets that are worth that to me either. And NO merlots save one if I could buy it for $75. If truth be told, I don't spend that kind of money on a bottle of wine, but I can say that I have gone to the $40+ level for some Rhones, and will undoubtly do so again. I have some left over spare ribs for dinner tonight and a bottle of 2004 Joel Gott zin to go with them but it was in the <$20 range, and we shall see if it is even worth that.


Addendum:The zin went well enough with the ribs left over since Sunday. lots of blackberry fruit, nearly sweet with the fruit level. I didn't check the alc level, but it was surely sufficient. overall it is a wine I would drink again, if someone else was buying, but the wine finished with a bitterness that I found off putting, and of late I seem to find this in a lot of zinfandel.
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:20 pm

James Roscoe wrote:Would you stop being reasonable?!!! I wanted to rant about the price of good zinfandel.


Oopsie, sorry! Didn't mean to step on your rant! :)
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Lou Kessler » Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:13 pm

I don't want to depress anyone but the price of Zins are what people are willing to pay. Carlise, we get a few in the store, we started with them from the beginning after tasting them at Zap. I wish we could get a lot more, there is no problem selling them. It's not anyones fault---Parker etc
it's just plain old supply & demand. I really don't think we have any first rate Zins that are inexpensive. ($20.00 or less) Just what the market is.
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby James Roscoe » Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:16 pm

Lou,
Way to cut to the chase.
Cheers!
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Mike Officer » Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:46 pm

Howdy folks. Thought I should weigh in on the zin pricing issue. Yeah, wouldn't it be nice if we could all buy tasty zins for under $10 a pop? I remember going through copious quantities of '88 Rafanelli at $8.75 a bottle. Ditto for the '85 Lytton Springs (pre-Ridge) at $5.99 and the '85 Dickerson and Old Hill from Ravenswood for around $10. But a lot has changed from those days.

First, great old vine zinfandel is no longer $500 a ton. Last year, the Sonoma County average was $2283 a ton with the best old-vine stuff going between $3000 and $4500 a ton. This is the same range as the average for Napa cabernet. And yet the average Napa cab is still going to cost more than the average higher end zinfandel. Also, American oak barrels have tripled in price since the 80s (from $100 to north of $300) while French oak has more than doubled (from $400 per barrel to $800 to $900). Labor costs have skyrocketed in recent years, not to mention glass, cork, foils, and pretty much every other item needed for making wine. And if you buy your land to plant zin, well... I'm not even going to go there!

I guess what I've never understood is why zinfandel is supposed to be cheap? It's like there's a barrier that zin is not allowed to cross. I taste a huge number of wines from all over the world every year. The best zinfandels deliver complexity and nuance at a far lower price than the best cabernets, chardonnays, pinots, and, I would argue, syrahs. Is there a stigma associated with zinfandel because it is largely America's "own" grape? The fact that it doesn't have a basis steeped in tradition in France, Spain, or Italy somehow makes it less noble and inferior to Americans? Is it because in general, zinfandels don't always age well? Frankly, that's an argument has never held water for me as how many wines from California truly develop complexity as they age? Very few that I've run across.

In all honesty, if zinfandel didn't cost what it does today, these low yielding vineyards would probably be ripped out. Why make $5-$7K an acre when you could replant to chardonnay or syrah and make $9-$12K an acre? It would be a travesty to lose them. They are historic treasures of California's agricultural industry.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

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Yup...

Postby TomHill » Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:52 pm

Nice rant, Mike.
I think why Zin is perceived to be a wine that should not be expensive is because of the perception that Zin can't age; a fallacy both you and I recognize. There is this idea that only wines that can age and age for a long time are "great" wines and the only ones worthy of high prices.
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:24 pm

Mike Officer wrote:Howdy folks. Thought I should weigh in on the zin pricing issue. ... Thanks for letting me ramble.


Thanks for checking in, Mike, and it's good to see you here. You've addressed a lot of questions and answered them well.
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Randy Buckner » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:39 pm

Maybe a silly question, but has anyone else fallen out of love with Zinfandel? I used to have a sizeable portion of my cellar devoted to Zins, but now have less than a row. It is just not a wine I reach for anymore.

I don't know if it is the big extraction, 15.8 percent alcohol, or what -- it just does not do it for me anymore. Any one else feel the same?
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Silly Question....Serious Answer...

Postby TomHill » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:46 pm

I used to be a huge fan of Zins and buy nearly every one that came down the pike. I don't buy/drink nearly as much Zin as I used to, primarily because Syrah has taken its place on my radar. But I still love Zins and drink them frequently. But they are not all big/extracted/alcoholic/over-oaked Zins; they're plenty of nice drinking ones out there like Nalle and David Cafarro and DryCreekVnyds. Just gotta scout them out.
Som I guess its not that I've fallen out of love w/ Zin as much as there a lot more out there competing for my attention.
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Re: WTN: New Zins....(long/boring)

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jun 08, 2006 6:07 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:Maybe a silly question, but has anyone else fallen out of love with Zinfandel? I used to have a sizeable portion of my cellar devoted to Zins, but now have less than a row. It is just not a wine I reach for anymore.


Not a silly question at all, Bucko. I might put it slightly differently, but for me, I'm the same-only-different about Zin as I am about Riesling. I like it OK, I can judge it competently on points, but it doesn't speak to my soul because my soul grew up on the traditional style of Italian and French dry table wines (and the California wines that were built on their model, pre-Parkerization), and as much as I love to range around the world and try them all, there's still a warmth and happiness that I associate with the wines I did, and do, love best.

Zin doesn't make that cut for me (and neither does Riesling), simply because they're stylistically different, each in its own way.
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Re: Silly Question....Serious Answer...

Postby Mike Officer » Thu Jun 08, 2006 6:09 pm

You know Randy, I think every wine lover could make that statement about many varieties. There was a time I was in love with CA cabernet. Then it was red Bordeaux. Then red Burgundy. My peak purchasing zin days were in the late 80s and 90s. And there were plenty of zins above 15% then. My feeling was that zin at that time was relatively underpriced in the market. I'm sure that was certainly part of the attraction. Anyway, in the mid to late 90s, it was Australian syrah for me. Now I'm nutzoid for gruner and have returned to Burgundy for whites. I'm also flipping out for southern Italian whites and reds.

I guess my point is that as wine consumers, we all go through stages. Like Tom, I don't think I've fallen out of love with any of the varieties or regions from which I've moved on. I've just found new interests to delve into. I still love a great cabernet, a great zin, a great Oz syrah. Hell, I love examples of pretty much every variety as long they're great! Even if that variety doesn't have a presence in my cellar.

Mike
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Re: Silly Question....Serious Answer...

Postby Lou Kessler » Thu Jun 08, 2006 9:36 pm

Mike, you and I have pretty much arrived at the same place in our approach to wine. The only difference is probably our interest in wines from Oz, for whatever reasons I just never became enamored. My wife who really appreciates a good bottle of wine and is a fine cook has pretty much steered our wine drinking toward matching it with different food that she prepares. For example we haven't found a better wine than Zin for matching with most of the meats that come off of our barbecue. so believe it or not our Zin consumption goes up in the summer because of how we prepare different meats.
We've found that GV is one of the most versatile wines that we have discovered in years. I'm very happy to see how well your wines have been received in the market. If you get any extra cases of your wines remember Manhattan Wines will be happy to find a home for them.
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Re: Silly Question....Serious Answer...

Postby Mike Officer » Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:29 pm

Thanks Lou. Yeah, you so often hear that you can't pair these modern zins with food. Have never understood that statement as they seem to pair perfectly with so many of our meals. Sure, I probably wouldn't order a zin at Slanted Door or La Folie but with all the grilling we do at home, zin seems to fit the bill perfectly. I guess to each their own though.

Extra Carlisle? Lately about as common as sightings of Sasquatch! But if any ever turns up, will let Manhattan know.

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