Monday, December 11, 2017

A Zinfandel Fail

Reid Klei is the winemaker for the new Motto wines, owned by Ste. Michele Wine Estates.  He makes wines that carry the "California" appellation, a ridiculously large and over-reaching tag.  It could mean that the grapes came from more than one great appellation, but more often it means that several lesser appellations are being disguised.

The 2015 Motto Unabashed Zinfandel is made from grapes grown in "vineyards across California"s sun drenched valleys," as their website states.  In fact, this wine tastes like the grapes were grown in a cool climate, as tartness is the word.  It's mostly Zin, with some Cabernet Sauvignon thrown in for good measure.  Alcohol stands at 13.9% abv and it sells for $15.

This wine is medium-dark ruby and smells of cherry and smoky oak spice.  There's a lot of oak spice here, and it follows the same way on the palate.  The fruit is in the forefront, but it seems that it doesn't want to stay there.  Or someone, should I say, didn't want it to stay there.  It's a bit tart, which is unusual for a Zinfandel.  Even so, the effect of the oak aging takes this wine in its grip and delivers a chokehold.  The fruit, however good or bad it may be, is masked by a massive cedar plank note and a rack of spices that don't really seem to fit.