WINEormous with ZinphomaniacThe last time we got together, it was for an all rosé tasting. My group of tasters was clamoring for reds, so that’s all I gave them when we met at Jim and Judi’s place.

We started in Lodi with the 2015 ZinPhomaniac from Parducci Cellars in celebration of their 85th anniversary. Ken loved the nose with huge raspberry notes and the spice on the palate. Jim called it jammy and well-balanced and a bargain at $15. Kim said it was rich and spicy. I described the nose as intoxicating. It scored an average of just over four out of five stars.

We followed that up with another Zin, the 2014 Ravenswood Mendocino County Old Vine Zinfandel. Jim said the nose was beautiful and liked the balance. Ken said he hadn’t been a fan of Ravenswood, but he was impressed with this wine. Judi called it easy to drink. Kim, on the other hand, said it wasn’t refined and she wouldn’t buy it. At $14, the panel scored it just under four stars.

I’d been holding on to a bottle of 2013 Canoe Ridge Barbera from Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills. Only 50 cases of this wine were produced and it’s no longer available. Kim called it soft with dark fruits and dark cherries and a good cheese wine. Brian said it was “soft as rainfall and a wine to savor.” Kathy called it yummy and a “happy wine.” Jim thought it was well-balanced with a nice nose and good use of oak. It scored over four stars.

Next was the Testarossa 2014 Dos Rubios Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Aged 100% in French oak, 52% of it new, Kim called it a “smooth operator.” Judi loved its balance. Brian said it was “youthful and fun.” “Yum, yum, yum”, said Ken. I found it to be a classic Pinot Noir. It averaged almost four and a quarter stars and it sells for $64.

Dry Creek Vineyard is a perpetual favorite of the group, and we tasted the 2014 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Small amounts of Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Merlot are blended in and it spends 19 months in French oak. I loved the deep purple color and hints of chocolate and dried cherries. Jim, not a Cabernet fan, said “I like it!” He enjoyed the balance, nose and spice. Lisa called it very spicy and said it was her favorite so far. Judi said it was a really good wine at a great price. Brian called it “young and audacious.” It sells for $26 and scored nearly four and a half stars.

We ended our tasting with the Beaulieu Vineyard 2013 Reserve Tapestry, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. It spends 22 months in 85% European oak and 15% American oak. Brian called it a serious wine and said it “maybe needs more time to acquire a sense of humor.” Ken liked the dark fruit characteristics and structure. Kathy said it was very smooth. At $55, it, too, scored close to four and a half stars.

Until the next time, we’ll save a seat at the tasting table for you.

Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts. WINEormous is the recipient of the Wine Tour Operator of the Year award for 2017 for the UK’s Luxury Travel Guide.