Randle Johnson, the Hess Family winemaker for the past 30 years, is the architect of these two Artezin Zinfandels, one from Mendocino County, the other from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. They are among a variety of wines under the Artezin label he calls “wierdos” incuding Verdehlo, Cariganan, Mourvedre Charbono and Petite Sirah.
These offerings are wines intended for early drinking. They are both delicious but different in Zinny Zin style. The 2012 Mendocino County Zinfandel is quite elegant and exhibits high toned red fruit, while the 2011 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel reveals riper dark plum and black pepper more in keeping with the old vines from this Sonoma County appellation. We tasted the two alone side by side and then enjoyed them with prosciutto and mozzarella, a perfect match.
Artezin 2012 Zinfandel Mendocino County ($18) 89 + This Zinfandel displays a bright red ruby color and aromas of red berry fruit, roasted coffee and a hint of toast on the nose. On the palate it is high toned and elegant revealing more red fruit with soft round tannins and a firmly structured finish. It is tight out of the bottle but opens up beautifully after some time in the glass.
Artezin 2011 Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley ($25) 89 The Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel has a year more of age and offers delicious dark cherry and plum fruit on the nose with notes of black pepper and toast. It has bold and somewhat spicy, jammy flavors on the palate with soft round tannins on the finish. Sourced from old vine hillside parcels from the benchlands and valley floors of Dry Creek Valley.
Coming soon: Report # 44 The Wines of Sonoma County which will review Dry Creek Valley and other Sonoma County Zinfandels.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler