DeRose’s Wickedly good Zins

I freely admit that I can be a grilled-food junkie – I’m not at all one of those “fair-weather” grillers – you know the kind. Those that profess they love grilling, however, only do it from June-August *cough* pansies *cough*. I suppose it’s fair to say that because I do love grilling that it’s easy for me to adore the prowess that is Zinfandel. Unfortunately for me, however, is that all too many are too flabby, over-oaked or both. I’m not sure what it is with what seems like most Zin producers in that they tend to do a great job of masking the fruit and that sucks.

De’Rose Winery is a father-son operation that produces roughly 5000 cases, mostly from estate fruit. They do source merlot from areas like Lodi as that grape doesn’t do too well in their cooler climate. As a rule – and where I’m at right now with my palate – I tend to be a huge fan of cooler climates as it helps keep the brix levels down and the wines tend to be more interesting to me.

In this review, I’ll take a look at their 2006 “Dry Farmed” Zin as well as their 2007 Zin – both from estate fruit. The 2007 is from their Nick De’Rose Sr. Vineyard which is about 25 years old and the 2006 is from the Cedolini vineyard that is over 100 years old.

2007 Zinfandel Cienega Valley – W.E.P. Rating: 95%

Technical Data:

  • Appellation: Cienega Valley
  • Varietal content: 100% Zinfandel
  • Yield: two tons per acre
  • Finished alcohol: 15.7%
  • pH: 3.67
  • Total acid: 6.0g/L
  • Price: $26

Nose: Fresh-cut roses, cherries, raspberries for days along with some bubble-gum action. I’m also picking up really cool scents of freshly-shampoo’d carpets and pomagranate as well.

Taste: Dired cran/raspberry juice that’s been dumped insdie a mixture of black peppercorn, carpet shampoo and spice. Solid fruit on the attack that firms up nicely across the mid palate and leaves a lingering finish of cola, black licorice, saddle soap and freshly tanned leather hide. This is an extremely solid zin that should be highly saught after by those looking for a good zin-experience.

2006 “Dry Farmed” Zinfandel – W.E.P. Rating: 100%

Technical Data:

  • Appellation: Cienega Valley
  • Varietal content: 100% Zinfandel
  • Yield: .8 tons per acre
  • Finished alcohol: 16.2%
  • pH: 3.52
  • Total acid: 6.1g/L
  • Price: $30

Nose: Super concentrated smells of black raspberries, cherries, tobacco for days along with a touch of gym sock as well as the Gym floor from high school and a little medicine cabinet action as well. Very interesting nose overall.

Taste: On the tongue I get a spiced-raspbarry jam component along with cinnamon, clove, dried cranberries and a nice hint of green olive on the tail-end which I find very interesting. Good, jammy finish that isn’t over “jamified” if you know what I mean – it has enough to remind you it’s a zin but doesn’t overkill it.  One would think that at 16.2%, the alcohol would be ruling the day but it’s not – there’s enough fruit and tannin structure here to keep it well balanced. Nice, dry finish lingers quite nicely with notes of red dirt and cedar box.

Winery website: