2006 Mazzocco Zinfandel “Antoine Philippe” Reserve, Dry Creek Valley

My first post of the year is a review of what is possibly the best Zinfandel I’ve ever tasted… A big claim, I know, but it’s my palate and you can pick your own favourites. 🙂

Graham, Shea and I came across this bottle while visiting the Mazzocco Winery during 2009’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference. We dropped in and tasted everything they had on hand with their exceptionally friendly staff, before being offered a special tasting of a few of their Reserve wines. Having fallen in love with their wines at ZAP, we weren’t about to turn that chance down. The result? I thought they were all standouts, but this one really grabbed our interest (and money).

I forget the exact story of how this and their other Reserve wines came into being, but the story is something along the lines of “owner of the winery thinks he (Kenneth Carl), the winemaker (Antoine Favero) and the vineyard manager (Juan Rodriguez) should peek at how the current vintages were developing and select small amounts of what they thought were the best of what they found  – and each of them would make their own blend”. The results are the Kenneth Carl Reserve, the Juan Rodriguez Reserve and the subject of this post – the Antoine Philippe Reserve.

It goes without saying that I was looking forward to popping the cork and savouring a few glasses. Graham had his in late 2009 – I enjoyed my bottle on the last night of my recent holiday.

I’ve never gotten this much from the nose on a Zin… there’s just SO much going on – I get maple-brown sugar, red licorice, brambles and so much ripe blackberry that my mouth started watering. It’s not overwhelming or boozy at all. The nose is surprisingly balanced for a wine with 16.2% ABV.

The flavours? My initial reaction was, “Wow.” It’s just so full and complex. Initially there’s a mouthful of ripe blackberries and plum fruit, which is then followed by an incredibly balanced mix of licorice, brown sugar (with that maple edge) and a lingering bit of violet on the velvety-tannic finish – which lasts minutes.

Graham had this to add:
I too was taken in by the breadth of the nose on this wine.  I found the beautiful fruit and sweetness on the nose balanced by some nice leather and floral notes.  So appealing and elegant for a Zin of this magnitude.

It is completely mouth-filling with a nice dark plum backbone under the beautiful berries that mix over top.  The real “wow” here is how this wine is concentrated and structured but not at all over the top or cloying in anyway.  At 16.2% this is some seriously ripe fruit, but Antoine Favero has maintained an incredible finesse in this wine.”

How can you not love this wine?? Don’t like Zin? Try something this complex and balanced. It’s not just a Zinfandel. It’s a memorable and exceptional bottle of wine.

Only 100 cases were made.

$120 USD at the winery.

4 1/2 stars