Saturday, January 7, 2012

Four Vines Paso Robles "Biker" 2009 Zinfandel-Sextant Paso Robles "Wheelhouse" 2008 Zinfandel And HOBO Branham Vineyard Rockpile 2009 Zinfandel

The Three Amigos were at it again last night with three new Zinfandels. Once again the tasting was "blind" and the three of us all agreed on which was the "best" wine, but our descriptors ranged from my more mundane to Ben's quite interesting if warmly whimsical, and Ethan's almost bar-room interpretation as he used terms like "liquor finish and alcohol burn" to describe the Zins. All of these wines have a medium body and all are a robust, youthful ruby color, all had similar aromas of  strawberry, sweet spice, and hints of clove, but Ben picked-up a hint of juniper from the Sextant, and butternut squash/pepper steak from the "Biker". I found the HOBO to have hints of sweet-rum, while Ben sensed "Sharpy" on the nose.

Four Vines Paso Robles "Biker" 2009 Zinfandel, $21.25-$24.99, 92 points, is a quaffer. I liked it better than the 2008 vintage. The "Biker" is a beautifully balanced cherry-plum, licorice (Ethan was picking through the flavor layers and tasting basil), with an unnoticeable 14.8% alcohol. The finish is fair sweet spice (Ben had nailed it with ginger-94 points) and (Ethan had the finish lingering-92 points).

Sextant Paso Robles "Wheelhouse" 2008 Zinfandel, $15.29-$19.99, 89 points, is a high QPR Zinfandel with lots of quality and flavors of plum and cherry fruit with good acidity, but it is the "bold but delicate finish" Ben scored this Zin 87 points, "drastic burn finish" Ethan scored it 90 points, and my own sense of bourbon on the finish which stuck with us (14.9% alcohol listed on the bottle, though their web-site has it at 15.3% sextantwines.com2008-20Wheelhouse.pdf).

HOBO Branham  Vineyard Rockpile 2009 Zinfandel, $20.70-$31.00 (Bought at Hannaford's super market) but you could find this at Bella Vino as well), 90 points, is another excellent QPR wine.
Now for the "warm whimsical": spiced pair, raspberry truffle, and mid-palate Novocaine (Ben 85 points). Ethan, 88 points, found cranberry fruit and an imbalance of whiskey notes (14% alcohol).
I was a bit more sanguine about taking the HOBO train, finding gentle damson plum, cranberry, and strawberry along with a fine ginger-spice finish with slightly more tannin than the other two.

All in all, we had mucho gusto with these three Zinfandel wines; none of them disappointed and all paired nicely with a variety of foods provided. 


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  1. Wow, I'm really far behind!

    I love your obsession with Zin. I love The Biker - well, really Four Vines in general - but since they've been sold, I'm a bit concerned for future vintages. I doubt anything will change with the next couple of years, but after that, who knows? I did stop in at the former Four Vines tasting room on my trip. If you want wines by the original Four Vines winemakers, check into Cypher. And yes, I will get around to posting!

  2. Claire, you are saying that Cypher is now the original Four Vines? I haven't seen this in NH, but thanks for the heads up; this was a blind tasting, so it didn't matter who made the wine, as we were all very pleased with it.
    Claire, I find it strange when I get a run of good wines, say zin., then out of the blue there's a "bad" one. Syrah was like that too; I was almost beginning to convince myself that I wouldn't find a "bad" (relatively speaking) one. What does surprise me, is just how many good Syrahs I'm finding, and at all price points; the Amon-Ra being exceptional; waiting a year to buy that one was well worth it.

  3. Yep, that's more or less what I'm saying. Four Vines had the higher end "Freakshow", which icluded Heretic, Anarchy, & Monarchy. Now, those wines have the Cypher label. Apparently, the original winemakers are working both labels, at least for now.

    I believe I've tasted all of them, & they're pretty stellar.

  4. Oh, & I haven't gotten to the Amon-Ra on your blog yet. I'm chipping away at it.