Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why can't more CA wine be this good? Joseph Swan Sonoma Zinfandel 2002

Sweet Jesus, son of Mary! The 2002 Sonoma zin I enjoyed last night with the roommates (well, they had some, but I was perhaps a bit greedy) was easily the most satisfying bottle of wine I have drunk year to date, and it would have undoubtedly been on the same list for last year if I had drunk it then. Of course Rod Berglund's wines are the real deal, but this one was truly in its moment last night. Imagine the most delicious, sun drenched, slightly spicy zinfandel fruit, but with real vibrancy, great natural acidity, and a softness that only several years of bottle age can provide. You taste Joseph Swann wines and you will realize why he has been so influential to so many people, from fellow vintners to the likes of Kermit Lynch, who quotes him in 'Adventures on the Wine Route.'

In Mondovino, Hubert de Montille mentions how he prefers wines that are direct, perhaps a bit firm in their youth, wines that cut through the palate and leave a marked impression. Modern wines, he claims, spread out on the front and mid-palate and then disappear. They are 'wines of betrayal' (or some such verbiage to that effect). The 2002 Joseph Swan Sonoma Zinfandel is no wine of betrayal. Its lively flavors ever so gently glide across the front palate, and then head towards the sides and underside of the tongue, lingering there. If you haven't tasted it, you really should. This is real wine, and as authentic an expression of California as you will ever find.


David McDuff said...

I haven't tasted it, Joe. You've made me want to. Fantastic note.

Joe M. said...

Thanks, David.

There is a misconception I used to have that CA wine under $20 just can't be interesting to me. While that may generally hold true, I've been learning about and tasting more delicious exceptions. Though the exceptions do tend to be made by people who have solid experience (Steve Edmunds, Rod Berglund, Gideon Beinstock, Jeff Emery at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards).