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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sum Zin, the Opolo Summit Creek Zinfandel 2007

This is my second road trip up to Paso Robles and this time I took advantage of the Far Out Wineries Passport weekend pass, which entitled me to have tasting fees waived at 17 different participating wineries, with the proceeds of the Passport Sales going directly to the Wellness Community.
This was my first visit to Opolo and frankly not sure if I will be back. My wife and tasted through several of their wines before we were introduced to this lovely Zinfandel. I was thinking wow, so many different wines and there's only one that we like. So many of the wines we tasted were right on the cusp of tasting good or very good, I believe there was just too much of a grip on reins keeping their wines from being remarkable, instead they were just ordinary. I believe it's hard to know if it's the winemaking teams philosophy on restraint, the fruit, or a combination of both. We tasted much of the 2007 vintage and many of the wineries in the area indicated that 2007 was an opulent vintage.

Nevertheless some folks really liked their wines quite a bit, as they were carrying it out by the cases. Honestly with the prices they were paying those folks could have saved themselves some money just shopping at Costco or Trader Joes for similar quality wines. That's not to say that neither of those places have great juice at great prices they do, but they also have some rather ordinary wine [everyday quaffers] for ordinary prices.

The tasting room was large and airy. The tasting bar staff was professional and attentive, amidst a fairly large crowd of fellow wine tasting enthusiasts like me. This place was money in terms of the size and scope of its operation. Limos were coming and going and the parking lot was teaming with cars attempting to locate an opening on the some-what smallish parking lot. Most of wine there was fairly quaffable, but nothing really registered in the wow column of my palate, except for one and that is the Zinfandel pictured to your right.

About Opolo Vineyards: According to their website, as Nichols [one of the owners] remembers, “I knew Rick to say hello to, but that was about it. Then one day, he said to me, ‘Hey Dave, I just planted 10,000 grapevines!’ “And so began the evolution of Opolo, one of Paso Robles’ newest labels. Nichols bought vineyard property adjoining Quinn’s and they now together own about 280 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles. There is about 200 acres on the Eastside and 80 on the Westside. The Westside vineyards are in the Adelaide hills, producing wines such as Pinot Noir and Sangiovese, while the Eastside properties produce varietals such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The majority of vineyards have been producing fruit since 1998, and a small percentage of it has been finding its way into wine made by Quinn and Nichols ever since.


First Swirl: In the glass this wine displays as a crisp medium ruby-garnet color standing in the glass, (lacking some extraction of deep color found in many Zinfandels) but this is not a bad thing either. I believe in their effort to not make super-ripe and jammy wine was accomplished dispite the high ABV, that knocks you over the head, instead they produced a wine that's nothing short of really good.

First Sniff: After putting my fat half Irish nose into the glass, I found this wine exudes an effortless plethora of ripe berry aromas, with a slight licorice aroma in the background. Even after the wine is gone from my glass, I was still nosing it to absorb ever last molecule of aromas that I can take in, this wine had me at first sniff.

First Sip: Blackberry, and whole plum flavors wash across the palate in a large wave of nuanced fruit and the carry through of a long, white pepper, and with lean blackberry on a crisp, but well focused finish. This is not the fruit-bomb you may imagine, instead what I found was a "layer-cake" [not to be confused with the label of the same name] of rich, ripe nuanced fruit so telling of what a good Zinfandel should be.

ABV: This is the stunner, the alcohol weighed in at a massive 16.4% but it definitely did not taste hot, as it melded ever so nicely together with everything else going on in my glass. I know many folks are already rolling their eyes and shaking their heads saying, "oh boy just another fruit bomb" and dismiss this wine and my review out of hand. But to everyone else who actually likes their wine to somewhat resemble in some way the fruit it came from, then this wine is for you.  

Where to find it and Price: Now about price, I found this wine at BevMo! here in San Diego selling for $19.99 and there was just a few left, but with that kind of case production I sure there is plenty more to be ordered.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 90 points on the Cuvee Corner 100 point tasting scale [not really my scale, but adapted from others already made].

Composition: 100% Zinfandel from their West-Side Summit Creek Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Mountains, which comprises about 11 acres.

Treatment: This was barrel aged in American Oak for 15 months, with a little over 10,000 cases made.

With/With-out Food: I had about a four ouce pour while making dinner and it would make a nice cocktail wine. With our dinner that night of some smoky BBQ Ribs and Baked Beans it was a marvelous accompaniment.

Bottom Line: A very focused, balanced and quaff-able wine sure to please any [well just about any] palate or guest who may drop by for dinner. Oh the other hand though because of the high ABV you may want to wait to imbibe this wine, when it's not a school night. What I would call a casual food friendly wine; best paired with just about any food group which may interest you. A good value $19.99 each retail, but at the winery it's selling for $19.00 each. What happened Bev-Mo you didn't get it at a discount?  But that said, it's my opinion that this wine is worth the Andrew Jackson they are asking for it and represents a great value. Since there is quite a bit of this wonderful wine made, I would definitely get a case or two. Remember, "stay thirsty my friends" cheers!

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