Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: **** $ Chateau Carolena Zinfandel, 2007, CA - BEST VALUE

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By way of background: Chateau Carolena Zinfandel was vinted and bottled specifically for Barclay's Wine Group, which provided it as part of its Barclay's Wine Experience "Barclay's Six" offering. The zinfandel is characterized only as "California", meaning two things: at least 75% of the wine is truly zinfandel (the other 25% may be a mix of any other reds), and the grapes are sourced from various locations in likely more than one region of California, including Lodi. So, basically, all we know for sure from the labeling is that this is a mostly zin red California wine. Oh, well, pedigree isn't everything, so let's see what this says from the glass...

Original Review, October, 2009:

In the glass: A deep, full, even red color from the glass, with velvet burgundy overtones.

On the nose: The nose is solid, fruity, peppery zinfandel, with hints of oak, and a little bit of odd funk.

On the palate: The first whack on the palate is sweet, black pepper rush right smack in the middle of your mouth. It's fun and clean and big and fresh and round. The big fruit follows with quite light acids rolling the sweet fruit up and around your cheeks.

And the finish: Though it doesn't change character toward the finish, the sweet pepper lingers evenly for a good, long time before fading gently from the scene. The 13.5% alcohol is just enough for the fruit.

In summary: Big, friendly gulper. I might even stay with it for an evening. So, remarkably, I'm letting it hit four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale. That's most unusual for a wine that is so simple at its core. Great value at the price associated with the Barclay's introductory club.

Updated Review, a year and a half later, March, 2011:  Color has stayed the same.  Nose has lost its funk, is now red fruit and deep pepper overtone.  Still a sweet, lightly peppery mouthful on the sip.  Big, sweet fruit fruits and nice underlying structure.  Gentle, clean, lengthy finish.  Holds up to its four stars rating.  Remarkable value, and nicely aging.

Following long decant, 10 days kept cool under vacuum in partially filled bottle:  held up perfectly, in nose and palate.  An amazing value-priced zinfandel. And even longer decant, two more days without vacuum:  Solid as a rock in nose and palate. 

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