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Croatia’s Plavac Mali Secret

My late grandfather spent the last decade of his life solving crosswords and drinking wine. It’s been 15 years since he was with us. But I can still vividly recall his passion for both words and a bicchiere of dark ruby red. “Would you like some water?” he used to ask me with a grin. By “water” he meant what he considered the source of life, a glass of locally produced Plavac Mali wine from his native region of Dalmatia. His offering was our little secret. I, being too young to drink, politely refused, but was nonetheless determined to explore my grandfather’s passion at some point in life.
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2006 Gnekow Zinfandel Old Vine Campus Oaks

This is simple, one-dimensional, jammy, and oaken. It is also cloudy, not something you see as often in these days of high-quality winemaking. The fruit is slightly peppery, sour cherry and raspberry. The oak is not integrated, but seems to bear almost no relationship to the fruit, coming to the palate after the fruit and overwhelming it. Even at this price point, this cannot be recommended.
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2008 Rodney Strong Zinfandel Knotty Vines Estate Vineyard

A big, rich, oaky, Sonoma Zinfandel, this has huge oak, generous blackberries and black cherries sprinkled liberally with coarse black pepper and shavings of baker's chocolate. The finish drops off quickly. It scored a three out of five stars at the Palate Press Grand Tasting. This wine will overpower anything but the biggest, most flavorful meats and sauces. Giant, Flintstones-sized beef ribs with a great rub and sauce carmelized on for just the last twenty minutes or so will do the job.
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Palate Press 2010 Grand Tasting

On December 10, eighty-five wine professionals, wine aficionados, and wine-curious friends gathered at the home of Palate Press Publisher David Honig for the 2010 Palate Press Grand Tasting, an evening of blind wine tasting. We opened 135 different wines from around the world, from Ahr to the Yakima Valley, and from Assyrtiko to Zinfandel.
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2006 Gnekow Family Winery Old Vine Zinfandel Campus Oaks

This is simple, one-dimensional, jammy, and oaken. It is also cloudy, not something you see as often in these days of high-quality winemaking. The fruit is slightly peppery sour cherry and raspberry. The oak is not integrated, but seems to bear almost no relationship to the fruit, coming to the palate after the fruit and overwhelming it. Evan at this price point, this cannot be recommended.
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2006 Vezer La Salette

Tasted at a recent show of North American wines, this red blend stood out of the bottled crowd. Deep, opaque purple color shows off a nose of violets and dark chocolate and toast. Chewy and dense at first, it yields languorous blackberry and pepper flavors upheld by soft tannins and a nice sugar balance. A very nice yin and yang of velvet and strength. A great wine with winter dishes, especially a cassoulet. But it’s not just for winter, either. Pricey, but a keeper.
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2007 Long Gamma Cellars Red Blend

The color is deep purple. Aromas of ripe red fruit, blackberry, black cherry, hint of spice. In the mouth, a pleasant melding of lush fruit that is expressive, but not an oppressive fruit bomb. Good balance and taste of fruit through front, mid palate and finish. Enough acidity and structure to let it pair well with many foods. Drinkable alone as well though, with good 'quaffability' factor. Finish slightly off dry, not hot or tannic. Read the full review on Simple Hedonisms.
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2007 Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley

Very juicy wine up front, offering up loads of blueberry, plum, and some prune, along with some coffee on the mid-palate. There are some obvious wood tones, cedar and spice. Unfortunately, it is less than the sum of its parts, disjointed and unbalanced. The fruit is too jammy, the coffee too bitter, the finish too sudden and short. It is reasonably priced and might work with heavily sauced barbecue toward the end of the summer, but it is not terribly special.