ZinEx is Almost Here

Several weeks ago, I announced a rather exciting opportunity for two lucky couples (four people total) to attend The Zinfandel Experience in January. The good news is that the entry into several events will be covered. The bad news? You would have to spend some time with me (and also provide your own transportation to San Francisco). I will be reposting the information about the contest every week (or so).

I did a novel thing the other day: I looked at the calendar, which indicated that it was (already) the month of December. Yikes! As of today (which will not come as a shock to those who actually look at a calendar with some relative frequency), the first week of December is already, essentially, in the books. That means that ZinEx, the premier Zinfandel Experience in the world, is a scant few weeks away.

I have already received several entries for the chance to attend ZinEx and drink some fabulous wines with yours truly, but there is still a bit of time to enter. I have decided to shut down the entries as of this Sunday at 11:59 p.m. (since midnight is cool). All the details are below.

I also include the tasting notes for a few more Zins here as an enticement of sorts. As you can see, they were all pretty fabulous, but they also all had really heavy bottles–a practice that I hope wineries soon realize should end. (I have ranted on this subject before, and I am sure I will again.)

2014 Alexander Valley Vineyards School Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel: Retail $45. B.A.B. I guess I would classify this as a bit on the dark side, but still translucent on the edges. More blue fruit than anything else here, much more reminiscent of a Merlot, in fact, than an Old Vine Zin. Fairly light (with Zin? 14.8% qualifies as “light”) on the palate with wonderfully subtle fruit (at least for a Zin), great acidity, and some earthiness on the palate. Other than the B.A.B., this is very close to my kind of Zin. And close to a whoa. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.

2017 Oak Farm Vineyards Zinfandel Block 417 Mohr-Fry Ranches, Lodi, CA:  Retail $42. I have visited the Mohr-Fry Ranches in Lodi a few times now, which I first chronicled back in 2015. They are a discerning family operation and it is safe to say, if you see “Mohr-Fry” on the label, it is going to be a stellar wine. Well. I tasted these three Zins together, and while they are all “Outstanding” this might be my favorite of the three. I qualify that statement since the fruit here is big. Not “really big” but “big.” And big is OK (I am 6’4” after all), as long as it is balanced and there is something else to describe the wine other than “big” and “fruity” (which is how many people describe me, unfortunately). There is plenty more here, though. Mocha and black fruit on the nose, surprisingly reserved fruit on the palate, depth, intrigue, and just a touch of heat (15%). Another B.A.B., though. Ugh. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.

2015 Three Wine Company Zinfandel Live Oak Vineyard Contra Costa County, CA: Retail $36. I have some very fond memories of Contra Costa County (CCC). Well, that is not entirely accurate. My in-laws used to live in CCC, and when we visited I would say my hellos and then immediately jump into a car headed toward Sonoma (or Napa). A little over a year ago, my in-laws moved out of California. To Texas. Houston, Texas. That’s where I live. In Houston. Texas. In fact, they live about a 38 second (depends who’s walking) walk away. I will let you fill in the blanks. B.A.B. (ugh) and dark, almost black in the glass with really dark fruit, spice, and plenty of black pepper. While not huge, I would certainly place this on the “big” side of Zinfandel (15.3%) with rich, round fruit and plenty of heft. There is also a more delicate side, particularly on the mid-palate, with some subtle depth. A little bigger than my wheelhouse, but still fantastic.  Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points. 

Do you want to taste wines like these with me in San Francisco? The kind folk at ZAP and I have put together a rather compelling package of events at January’s ZinEx to offer to two separate readers of the Drunken Cyclist (two different winners will both receive all of the following):

  • 2 Tickets to the Opening Night Dinner on Thursday, January 17, value $400. Over a dozen wine producers will be on hand at One Market Pavilion in San Francisco to greet you and pair their wines with the innovative American cuisine of award-winning chef Mark Dommen. I will be there as well. I might even wear a tie.
  • Joel Petterson.

    2 Tickets to the Flights Seminar on Friday, January 18, value $200. A sit-down experience at the Palace Hotel, focused on the different styles and flavors of Zinfandel as well as some of the personalities of its producers. I am particularly excited that the moderator is Joel Peterson of Ravenswood Winery, a champion of the variety for over 40 years. I know I will be a little star-struck.

  • 2 All-Day Tickets to the Grand Tasting on Saturday, January 19, value $380. Join me at the Grand Tasting at Pier 29 where I will be visiting some of my favorite producers and get a “behind the scenes” approach to a tasting that will feature countless producers.
  • To Be Determined likely on Friday night, value? Good question. I am also working on a private blind tasting for the winners conducted by yours truly. I hope to gather around a dozen top Zinfandels from different regions and representing contrasting styles for a different approach to Zinfandel appreciation.

There you have it. No, airfare and hotel are not included (I tried!), but the package is valued at over $1000 (my wife said that a blind tasting with me is “priceless” but she is a bit biased) and will be a great three days for four lucky people to experience Zinfandel in an incredible way.

Entry is fairly easy—just post a picture of a bottle of Zinfandel to social media somewhere with the hashtag #ZinStories. Be sure, and this is important, to send me an email (jeff(at)thedrunekencyclist(dot)com) or leave a comment here, letting me know where you posted. Also, please only enter if you know that you will be able to attend!

Any questions? Use the above email to give me a shout or ask away in the comments section below.


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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