2002 Joseph Swan "Lone Redwood Ranch" Russian River Valley Zinfandel (Elsewhere $25)
A "throwback" Zin. No jammy, sweet, mouthcoating flavors here. No searing alcohol. Just a rock solid Old World-styled Zin bursting with flavor. The tangy, fresh raspberry and cranberry fruit flavors belie the wine's age, leading to a much snappier version of Zin than most are used to. Add some cracked white pepper, dried tobacco, marjoram and cinnamon stick flavors and this becomes much more complex and drinkable than about 90% of the Zins on the market. If you want to taste a slice of Zin history, this is a perfect wine for you. If you like Zin that tastes like the blueberry pancake syrup at IHOP, please look elsewhere. (Bryan Brick, K&L) Joseph Swan is exceedingly slow to release its Zinfandels, and for a very good reason. Joseph Swan Zinfandels are made, in the words of Robert Parker, "in a divergent style." This estate tries to make wines from a variety of Zin vineyards that reflect the character and terroir of those sites. The wines are slow starters in the race for the long haul, revealing year after year new layers of complexity and interest. This wine is a case in point. A year ago it was just drinkable. Now, it is a real showstopper.The fruit is typical of the vineyard, showing pure berry. With excellent acidity, light to moderate tannins, medium bodied and beginning to show some complexity. It was aged in older French oak barrels to preserve the character of the fruit. It should continue to improve with bottle age for several years and hold for many more after.