Showing posts with label Rockpile. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rockpile. Show all posts

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Beekeeper Zinfandel

From the vaults, 2012.  Ian Blackburn talks about his winemaking effort, Beekeeper  Zinfandel. It's one of the most amazing Zins I've ever tasted.  It could knock a Cab off a steakhouse wine list.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Elevating Zinfandel

There’s nothing like a good Zinfandel, except maybe a great Zinfandel. There were plenty of the former, and a few of the latter, on display at Elevating Zinfandel, a tasting event put on recently by Los Angeles wine educator Ian Blackburn through his WineLA. First, the highest points, then the "merely high."

When I think of the Zinfandels I really like to drink, Turley Wine Cellars comes to mind first.  They draw grapes from a variety of California vineyards, a listing of which reads like a “Who’s Who” of grapevines.

Turley Kirschenmann Vineyard, Lodi 2014 - Planted in 1915. Beautiful red cherry.
Turley Dusi Vineyard, Paso Robles 2014 - Elegant, possibly the best Paso wine I’ve had.
Turley Rattlesnake Ridge, Howell Mountain 2014 - Extremely elegant and smooth.

Ridge Vineyards is another name that Zin lovers know and revere.

Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel Blend, Alexander Valley, 2014 - Very dark, spicy with pepper and red and black cherry. It’s a true field blend, with different gapes commingled in with the Zinfandel, right in the vineyard, all picked and crushed at the same time and co-fermented. The rep told me there were "too many different grapes in the wine to fit on the label."

Beekeeper Cellars is the creation of our host, Mr. Blackburn, right. I remember telling him two years ago that his Zin could knock an unsuspecting Cab off of any steakhouse wine list. And it’s just getting better.

Beekeeper Madrona Spring Vineyard, Rockpile 2013 - Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. The nose on this one sure is.
Beekeeper Montecillo Vineyard Sonoma Valley 2014 - Dark and savory with an herbal edge and lots of pepper. A favorite of mine.
Beekeeper 2012 Reserve is tasting better all the time.

All the others poured admirable wines, too. Here are my favorites among them.

A Rafanelli Winery
Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2013 - Shows spearmint.

Bedrock Wine Company
Evangelho Vineyard Heritage Wine 2014 - An excellent wine. From Oakley, 120 year-old vines. Another field blend.

Brown Estate Wines
Chaos Theory - Zinfandel/ Cabernet Sauvignon/Petite Sirah blend. Spicy nose with pencil lead. Big red fruit flavors, spice. Elegant and structured.

Mauritson Wines
Clay Mauritson, left, is on the winemaking team at Beekeeper, too.
His Cemetery Vineyard, Rockpile 2014 shows green pepper in a savory, herbal setting.

Chase Cellars
Zinfandel Rosé, Hayne Vineyard, St Helena 2015 - Bone dry, definitely not white zin.

Hendry Ranch Wines
Blocks 7 and 22, Napa Valley 2013 - Clone 2 Zinfandel. Strawberry jam.

Jeff Cohn Cellars
Sweetwater Springs, Sonoma Valley 2012 - Savory, earthy lavender. Silky smooth.

Martinelli Winery
Vellutini Ranch, Russian River Valley, 2012 - Very appealing light color. Floral berries, spice.

Quivira Vineyards
Hugh Chappelle, right
Flight 2013 - All Zinfandel. Smokey, red, savory.

Robert Biale Vineyards
Grande Vineyard, Napa Valley 2013 - Vines planted in 1920. Outside the Oak Knoll District. Dark and savory.

Seghesio Family Vineyard
Rockpile, Sonoma Valley 2013 - Subtle and elegant.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Beekeeper Zinfandel Rockpile Appellation 2010

My friend Ian Blackburn is well known to Los Angeles wine lovers as a wine educator.  He throws some of the most extravagant and delightful wine tasting events to be found in Southern California under his Learn About Wine shingle.  He is also a winemaker now.

I caught up with Blackburn at his downtown L.A. event loft, where he treated me to a glass of his Beekeeper Zinfandel, Rockpile Appellation 2010.  The name of the wine has an interesting story.

He borrowed the crest of Blackburn, England, where a lot of honey is made.  This fit well with the fact that his great-great-great grandparents came to America as actors.  Acting wasn’t one of the professions available on the form, so they wrote down “beekeeper.”  When Ian told his father of the name ha had chosen for his wine, Dad told him, “That was my radio handle in the war!”  The name seems to have been destined for his use.

Beekeper is dark purple, with a huge nose featuring floral aromas along with cherry and black cherry.  The palate has a beefy texture, with firm tannins and flavors of dark cherry, spice, minerals and earth.  It has a masculine edge and can definitely take the place of a Cabernet.

The limestone and loam soil in the Rockpile appellation, just northwest of Dry Creek Valley, comes through without a hitch.  The hillside vines in the Madrone Spring Vineyard are all harvested by hand, with those teeny, pea sized berries and small clusters destemmed meticulously.  Rockpile was branded by Robert Parker as one of the best Zinfandel sites in northern California.

Zinfandel makes up 89% of the wine, while 11% is Petite Sirah.  Blackburn is guided in the winemaking process by Dry Creek Valley winemaker Clay Mauritson.  Beekeeper's alcohol content is a big 15.4%, and the wine retails for $60.  Blackburn admits it is a high price point for Zinfandel, but one taste shows that it will step easily into the role of a $100 bottle of Cab.

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