Estancia Paso Robles Keyes Canyon Ranches Zinfandel 2003
I truly enjoyed Estancia's straightforward Zinfandel from Paso Robles. The $16 wine is a
pleasing medium-depth ruby with garnet edges. Like many of its cousins this estate bottled
100% Zinfandel strains the meter at 15.7% alcohol, but the fire is well integrated into the
juice. You get no heat sensation on the nose, even at first acquaintance, because the
wine—aged 14 months in American and Hungarian oak (only 10% new)—has so much more
going for it. The berry aromas are both broad and deep: cranberry, black cherry, blackberry,
boysenberry. The nose is also herbal (rosemary), spicy (black pepper and vanilla), with
tangible chocolate/cocoa, all wrapped in cedar.
As a special treat, a number of manifestations of orange come through on both nose and
palate: the orange fruit itself on the nose, a sweet variation of the rind on the palate. The deep
berry notes continue on the palate but spread out into nearly a strawberry jam with some
ultra-ripe dried fruit sensations of prune and fig. Dark chocolate, tobacco and black licorice
support the fruit, with further spicy edges of nutmeg and clove. The tannins are smooth.
Though the Zinfandel is dry, it is hardly bone dry in effect given its concentration, its layers,
and its abiding ripeness.
Verdict: A Treat
Paso Robles and Zinfandel make an ideal match, all other factors being equal. Patience, perspective, and direct, honest winemaking bring the goods to the table.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman