Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rosenblum Rockpile Road Zinfandel 2004--One of the Very Best! [Mac McCarthy]

My Rating: 96 out of 100.

Rosenblum Cellars of Alameda, California is most famous for its big, bold Zinfandels--its pioneering founder, Kent Rosenblum, led a coalition of vintners for twenty years to establish Zinfandel as capable of producing a quality wine--contrary to the sorry memory of the student wine White Zinfandel. There are now more than 300 makers of fine Zinfandel in the United States thanks to his efforts.

Rosenblum's favored style for its Zinfandels (and many of its other red wines) is fruit-forward, even jammy; intense and dense with flavor, otherwise known as "highly extracted," a deep color so dark you could sign the Declaration of Independance with it, and high in alcohol (this one is 16.5%). Kent likes to leave the grapes on the vine as long as possible, picking just days before the fall rains comes -- the result is an intensity of flavor that can be rivalled only by the most aggressive Syrahs made in California.

Of all Rosenblum's Zinfandels, those from the vineyards of Rockpile Road, on the side of a steep hill in the famed Dry Creek Valley area of Northern California, produce the most intense, biggest, and boldest. Only Rosenblum's Snows Lake Zinfandel, or its rare Rosenblum Cullinane Vineyard, can rival it. It regularly sells out in futures, so it's hard to come by. If you ever see a bottle on a retail outlet, snap it up.

I bought this as a case of futures at a discount price of $28. Current releases sell for $45 if available.

Bottom line: This is one of the finest wines made, and if you are a Zin enthusiast, no Zinfandel can surpass it.

If you are more accustomed to light, food-friendly reds, this wine will knock your taste buds sideways; it takes getting used to. (I recommend in that case that you try Rosenblum's Cuvee Zinfandel, which is Zin with trainer wheels--I mean, it's a light, approachable, very tasty but not at all nasty, Zin; even I like it.)

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