Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: *** $$ Fair Oaks Ranch Zinfandel Reserve, California, 2005 and 2012

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By way of background: This is Fair Oaks Ranch Zinfandel Reserve, California, 2005, finished at 12.5% alcohol.

Original review of 2012 vintage, October, 2014:  Medium deep ruby.  Nose is shy, with some sweet fruit, hiding in the background.  Soft, light red sip, with clean cinnabon elements.  Light red berries start to peak, but give way quickly to a softer, spiced ripe blackberry.  Clean moderate finish, with soft tannins and very light acids.  Nice experience in a gentle and genteel red.

Initial review, December, 2010, of 2005 vintage:  
In the glass: Fair Oaks Ranch Zinfandel shows as medium burgundy in the glass, moving to just a hint of brick at the edge.  With five years of age, the light coloring change at the perimeter is to be expected.

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, this Lodi zin is quite shy on the nose, reflective of its genteel alcohol level.  Primary notes are light red currants with strawberry wisps. 

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are a very subtle, sweet mineral impact on the mid-palate - almost more of a whisper than a taste.  That said, the minerality balances nicely with the subtle berries, though the impact is more of a gentle pinot noir than a roaring California zin.  Lightly sweet finish ends up clean and crisp.

In summary: Overall, pleasant enough experience in the category of light red wines, though atypical of the varietal. Rates two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for its easy-going nature.  I would suggest drinking up bottles soon, and not counting on benefit with additional years in the bottle.

Following long decant, stored cool in partially-filled bottle under vacuum for three days: Nose now adds a tiny bit of primary plum.  On the palate, a touch of tobacco comes in with a few wisps of tannins too, creating a bit of surround sound on the still-definitely-light style.   I'm going to leave it for even a bit more air, though, as I believe this is moving in a healthy direction, possibly towards three stars.

With an extremely long decant, one more day kept cool in partially-filled bottle without vacuum: The nose has pretty much disappeared, and the palate has pretty much fallen apart.  Too much air time for this gentle lady.
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Updated review, almost a year later, October, 2011:  Consistent color and aroma.  The minerality is solid and distinctive in this light-bodied zinfandel.  Just touches three stars now.  Following long decant, three days kept cool in partially filled bottle: Nose and palate held up well to the air.  Lost a bit of its pleasant minerality.

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