Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Alderbrook Dry Creek Reserve Zinfandel, 2003

I don't buy or drink much Zinfandel these days, but the ones I like most, notably Ridge Geyserville and Trentadue, come from the old, gnarled vines of Dry Creek in Sonoma County. The Dry Creek appellation--as well as the $12.99--attracted me to this wine.

Your typical Zinfandel is nearly opaque and gushing with blackberry and black raspberry aromas and flavors. This wine is an exception--in part because of the old vines of the appellation and in part because of the very hot growing season, one of the hottest ever recorded in the area. The color is almost shockingly light for a Zin--a light crimson, closer to what you might expect from a Chateauneuf du Pape than a California Zinfandel. It looks mature and it also smells mature with lots of complexity--compact dried cherries and red fruits and a slight menthol quality. In the mouth, the wine is lean, with a tensile strength like a strong, thin wire holding it all together. It has old vines flavor intensity and a long finish.

This wine tastes expensive. And, in fact, it sells right now at the Alderbrook winery for $34 a bottle. The $12.99 price at D&W Fresh Markets in southwest Michigan, I am told, is due to a special purchase. If you like Dry Creek Zinfandel and cannot afford Ridge Geyserville (now $35 a bottle), this is a wine to try while it's still available.

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