Monday, July 16, 2012

"The Zen of Zin" Tasting at Fleming's in River Oaks

On Friday evening, my husband and I attended the Zinfandel wine tasting at Fleming's in River Oaks. My husband gets totally pumped up for any and all things Zinfandel but what I found really intriguing in the line up of wines were the aged offerings. Brent Sloan, managing partner at Houston's premier wine storage facility Nos Caves Vin, had provided Fleming's with four 18 year old bottlings and one 17 year old bottling from his collection of some of his favorites. I found this interesting because 1. I don't believe that I have ever had an 18 year old Zinfandel before this evening and 2. From various wine classes, I had always heard that at best Zinfandel had very limited aging ability. So, I was definitely excited to give these wines a taste.

There were also an additional five younger Zinfandel wines that are some of Fleming's best sellers. The entire tasting line up for the evening included:

2009 Orin Swift Saldo - California
2007 Schulz "Lampyridae Vineyard" - Mount Veeder
2010 Il Matane Manduria Primitivo - Puglia, Italy
2007 Valdez "Landy Vineyard" - Russian River Valley
2008 Macauley Old Vines - Napa Valley

1994 St Francis Old Vines - Sonoma County
1994 Turley "Hayne Vineyard" - Napa Valley
1994 Ridge Lytton Springs - California
1994 Cornerstone Howell Mountain Cuvee Mysterieuses - Napa Valley
1995 D-Cubed Howell Mountain - Napa Valley

When considering the younger versions side by side, the Macauley was my favorite. It had a mix of ripe, not baked, black and red fruit with a refreshing level of good acidity, very balanced. I would rate the Orin Swift as next favorite, followed by the Primitivo. The Valdez was my least favorite. I found it too herbal, somewhat tannic and lacking in acidity.

Now the whole reason I came, How were the older wines?
I thought four out of five were very good. The St Francis was the only one that I did not enjoy. It tasted over the hill with absolutely no fruit  and not much of any flavor left, just alcohol and a bit of chocolate. I was struggling more on picking my personal favorite from the other four. They were  all very smooth, well-balanced, with a complex array of aromas and flavors including licorice, sandalwood, anise, a bit of earthiness while still holding onto some fruit. All were very interesting and good. I think my views on the age ability of Zinfandel were certainly broadened.

This was an open consumer event and the crowd was quite social so I didn't get complete tasting notes on each wine. The passed hors d'oeuvres were fantastic: Korean BBQ ribs with a Gochujang rub, mini ancho-mole Cabrito tostadas with queso fresco, chorizo flatbread with tomato confit, burrata and basil pesto and lastly, the one that surprised me the most for its pairing ability, 5-spice tempura shrimp with Szechuan Chili Sauce.

This was a great wine event put on by the management and staff at Flemings River Oaks and at only $25 per person, it was also an unbelievable deal. I would definitely recommend checking out their future wine tastings.