Ah, ZAP, the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers annual drinkfest event.Â I went on a trade ticket last year.Â This year I won a ticket from VinVillage.Â Happy times.Â Sonofabun was up for the challenge of trying 250 Zinfandels in one afternoon.Â Â Who else would I call?Â It started with a monumentally long line that wound around the Fort Mason parking lot.Â I asked an official looking young man or at least I tried to ask him if the email from VinVillage meant I had to go to a different line.Â The little needledick ignored me.Â So we stood in the line for the length of a building when we came upon another worker.Â She actually listened to us and pointed us to the front of the building and yes, we could jump out of line and walk right up.Â I thought I’d won two tickets but sadly it was only one.Â So Sonofabun got his ticket there and we had to go over to the other building to pick up mine.Â So why not start with H-Z instead of A-G?Â Smart move.Â We started with Taft Street.Â I did not know their history yesterday, but it makes me love them now that I’ve seen it.Â Even better, they make beautiful Zin.Â We were thrilled to start with a gifted producer.Â With 250 different wineries represented, it’s not always the case.Â They were pouring their Cobblestone Vineyard Zin.Â I just looked it up and can’t believe you can get that wine for $22 retail.Â It’s worth every penny.Â Well balanced not knocking you over with sweetness, nice dry finish.Â You don’t always get it all from old vines but these guys did.Â Next stop was an old friend, Trentadue.Â I belong to their wine club or at least their reserve club.Â I don’t get their regular line of wines.Â So I haven’t had the Old Patch Red in a while.Â It was exceptional.Â Well balanced, a hint of sweet, clean finish, dark fruit, a little jam and little pepper, really an amazing wine for $14.Â But I’m a fan, so we moved on to their flagship Zin.Â This little wine retails for $18.Â It’s very similar to the Old Patch Red except it’s a little sweeter on the finish.Â I’d say it was a little bolder but well balanced.Â Then we moved on to the wine that sold me on Trentadue years ago, the La Storia Zinfandel.Â I love this wine.Â I have loved it from my first sip years ago.Â It’s of course different every year.Â For many years it had a lot of pepper going on.Â I loved doing a Cajun styled rub on a steak and cracking a bottle of the La Storia.Â This year didn’t have any pepper.Â Full of jammy fruits and a little leather or tobacco.Â It really reminded me that I’ve got to get my ass up there and pick up the 14 bottles that have been sitting there.Â And check out all the awards it got.Â Holy smokes.Â Next stop, Tin Barn.Â I first met these guys at the Winter Wine event in Sonoma last year.Â They blew me away.Â I think he had the 2006 Napa Valley out.Â And the 2005 Russian River.Â They have a distinct style.Â They are full bodied, complex and slightly jammy.Â The Russian River had some pepper in it and that makes me happy.Â This guy makes wine in a business park in Sonoma County, and does an amazing job.Â Our next stop was our first disappointment.Â Twisted Winery.Â I had mistaken them for Twisted Oak, which has garnered quite a buzz.Â Twisted had way too many tannins and was unsure on their feet.Â I’m always amazed when a wine doesn’t come out right that they show up to trade shows anyway.Â I won’t make that mistake again.Â Next stop, my friends at Unti.Â Bob, who used to work at the tasting room at Freemark Abbey suggested that I try their Merlot that was being served by the glass over at Bistro Jeante in Yountville.Â It was an amazing Merlot.Â That was probably six or seven years ago.Â I made a pilgramage out to Unti, because they’re way the hell and gone in Sonoma County.Â It was worth every mile driven.Â So naturally, it was our next stop.Â Their offering was very fruit forward, lush, beautifully balanced (an Unti trademark in my book) and finished long and gentle.Â They just don’t make a bad wine.Â They’re located in a barn off the highway and it’s the way wine tasting should be.Â Love those guys.
Are you still reading?Â This is getting long. And look two old people can use a cell phone camera better than those punk kids.Â Smile dumb ass.
I think I’ll finish with a highlight reel.Â Murphy-Goode Snake Eyes and Liar’s Dice.Â I’d never heard of them but a lady we met in the parking lot (after I said something off the wall and she joined in) told us to go check them out.Â Sonofabun liked the Snake Eyes and I liked Liar’s Dice.Â And those guys are really fun.Â And make good wine.Â Both were big Zins ready to crack open and fire up the grill.Â Liar’s Dice has a little more pepper to it and that’s what I like.Â Ledson was a Sonofabun choice and a spectacular one at that.Â Â They had several out.Â The Contra Costa County wine was amazing.Â They grow the grapes in Oakley of all places.Â (Actually I had a really great Pinot that was grown in Antioch once)Â It’s a bright wine with fresher fruit tan normal on a Zin.Â Nice hint of sweetness and a bright finish.Â I really liked it.Â Next up was their Lodi Old Vine version.Â It was just like a Lodi Zin should be.Â Jammy up front, full of dark fruit and a nice unexpected pepper finish.Â Next up was their Sonoma County version.Â This was a well balanced, peppery, jammy glass of Wow!Â My kind of Zin for sure.Â Lava Cap, I had the Rocky Draw, not so much on that one. Â It was one of about five that I got grapefruit on the front and that’s just not my kind of Zin.Â I don’t know what you have to do to a Zin to get grapefruit on the front (yeah, just like a Sauvignon Blanc) but they did it.Â Of course we went to Edmeades.Â Of course their Zins were big and jammy and delicious.Â That’s a given.Â They never stumble.Â We tried a new one neither of us had heard of, D-Cubed.Â It’s kind of a squirrely name for a winery, but when you make wine as good as they do, you can call it any damned thing you want.Â I think we had the St. Helena, but don’t hold me to that.Â Whatever it was, it was extremely well balanced, jammy, gentle with a nice finish that made you feel like you were sitting in an old library.Â Â Carol Shelton is a regular stop for me.Â Last year Carol Shelton is the last thing I remember before the suspended animation portion of our show.Â This year, I tossed a lot more wine in the bucket and got a little less tossed myself.Â I like the Wild Thing.Â It’s exactly what the name says, a fun, bright Zin.Â It goes every whichway, probably what I like about it.Â The Monga is a very different wine, almost like she reeled it in.Â Much smoother, better balance (or boring after the Wild Thing) really a well refined beautiful wine.
There were many other wines, but these were the notables or the ones I remember.Â I was going to take notes, but that was really too much work.
All Dog’s children
The Hellhoundz are back home.Â Bubba tried to play hard to get yesterday, ignoring me for the most part until we got up in the truck.Â Rita was glued to my side and not letting me out of her sight.Â Bubba was all about “I’m mad at you” until I started scratching his neck.Â He was butter in my hands.Â He took the crown of his head and pushed it into my shoulder, then licked my face,Â layed down and put his head on Rita.Â All was right in his world.Â And now all is right in my world.
And now we ride
Since all is now right in my world, it’s time to get my ass back on the bike.Â It’s a gorgeous day and I’ll probably just do a quick hour since I haven’t been on the bike since a week ago Tuesday.Â (12 days ago but who’s counting?)Â Stop it!Â It rained the week before I went to Mexico.Â Let me just say, a diet of beer, tortilla chips and cheese is a good way to safely get through Mexico.Â I only had a little bit of damage and I think it was from the high end Spanish tapas place I tried.Â I’m back to brushing my teeth with water from the tap and eating fresh vegetables.Â You know you’re in trouble when you just want a salad or a piece of fresh fruit that you’re not afraid of.Â So since I re-read Body for Life when I was down there, I’m ready to get going.Â The Beer and Cheese Tour is over and now, we ride.Â Did I mention that ZAP had cheese?Â And now, we ride.Â By the way, I’d be thrilled if we could crack at least $400 today on my Lance Armstrong Foundation ride.Â Even $5 helps.Â Thank you for your support.