United States, Calif., Rosenblum Cellars

May 1, 2007
2007 / May 2007

“We’re like a big orphanage,” Dr. Kent Rosenblum said. “We love all our kids.” Rosenblum’s “kids,” as it turns out, are zinfandels, 26 different bottlings of the grape most closely associated with California. When this veterinarian founded Rosenblum Cellars in 1978, he began with two zinfandels — one from Napa, one from Sonoma. Soon there were four, then 12, and they kept multiplying. As the number grew, so did his technique. No longer simply blending zinfandels from a county and labeling them with that county’s name, Rosenblum began to purchase grapes from some of California’s best zinfandel vineyards and to put the name of the vineyard in which the grapes were grown on the label.

“I believe we do more vineyard designated wines than any winery in the world,” he said.

I recently tasted six of his 26 zinfandels, and he has every reason to be proud of his “kids.” There is nothing shy about these wines; they announce themselves with power and fruit and upfront taste. At the same time, they are beautifully balanced, well-structured wines. Prices quoted are suggested retail in California.

Richard Sauret Vineyards Zinfandel 2005, Paso Robles ($25) has an intense aroma that is rich in berry and cherry fruits, and a forceful, full-flavored taste with a whiff of pepper that entices the senses.

Annette’s Reserve Zinfandel 2004, Redwood Valley, Mendocino County ($35), made from old vines, is even more forceful. Deeply textured and aromatic, it is an outstanding zinfandel.

Harris Kratka Vineyard Zinfandel 2004, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County ($35) is a lively, assertive wine, with undertones of vanilla and raspberry, satiny in body, long in its aftertaste.

Snows Lake Vineyard 2004, Lake County ($35) is intense and robust; all cherries, berries and spice.

Lyons Reserve 2004, Napa Valley ($45) is still more intense and powerful; a remarkable, massive wine that announces itself with 16.2 percent alcohol.

Monte Rosso Vineyard Reserve 2005, Sonoma County ($45), from 100-year-old vines, manages to combine power with richness, elegance and amazing balance. “Each vineyard has a different character,” Rosenblum said. “That’s why we search California for the best, the most interesting.”

And each has an individual story to tell, an individual taste to remember.

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