This week, a small group of us got together to taste a four year vertical of Paul Dolan Zinfandel. I must admit, I was not familiar with this winery. They are an organic/biodynamic winery out of Mendocino County, in Northern California. We were able to pick up the 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 Zinfandels. Each wine was opened about an hour before our dinner, and allowed to breath.
The main course was a Beef Bourguignon, following the Julia Child's recipe, and side dish of scalloped potatoes. My responsibility was the dessert. I like to experiment, so I made a blackberry Panna Cotta, topped with fresh blackberries and bittersweet chocolate shavings. I also made figs, poached in Zinfandel. The poaching liquid was later reduced to a syrup, and the figs with syrup were poured over vanilla ice cream.
The 2006 Paul Dolan Zinfandel was the only vintage that had grapes from two growing regions. While all the vintages had grapes from Mendocino, the 2006 had grapes also sourced from Amador County. As mentioned, the 2006 vintage was lighter in color. It was fairly light bodied (for a Zinfandel). The alcohol level in all four wines as the same, coming in at 14.5% (again, low for a high sugar grape, like Zinfandel). The '06 vintage still had some fruit to it, but there was also some herbs on the nose. On the palate, the wine had some peppery notes, very light fruit, and moderate acidity. The most interesting thing about this wine, was how it changed in the glass over time. Most of the food overpowered this lighter Zin. But, by itself, I found it a nice drinking wine, particularly at under $20/bottle. I wouldn't run out and purchase this vintage, as it is already showing its' age.
The 2008 Paul Dolan was a dark ruby colored wine, and had mixed reviews. One person in our group picked this as his favorite, while most did not care for it at all. I am almost wondering if there might have been something wrong with the wine, as it was the only one in the vertical, that was purchased from a different retailer. There was a strong bacon smell to the wine. It was also the most "jammy" of the four. There also seemed to be a lot of oak on the nose, and a mushroomy character to the wine. This was my least favorite vintage of the four.
I hope this will inspire you to try your own vertical wine tasting. sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But at least you get to drink wines, and get together with friends. And, isn't that what it is ultimately all about?