2007 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel: 93 Points/$16.99

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In recent years, the Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel has enjoyed a steady rise north of 90 points in Wine Spectator's ratings. Since 2004, their mass produced (68,000 cases in 2007!) Sonoma County Red Zin has climbed from 88 to 90 to 91 to 93 BIG points in 2007.

It's worth noting that Spectator's James Laube, who has historically covered all California wines, has given up the Zinfandel beat. Laube is focusing on the more prestigious varietals of Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and has transferred the task of rating California Zinfandels to Tim Fish. Nonetheless, Fish's 93 points is worth taking note of. It is a huge number at this price point, and in my experience every point north of 90 is harder and harder to come by.

I haven't tasted this latest vintage, but I've been a *huge* fan of Seghesio in the past. It's just one of those consistent go-to wines that I love, is readily available at local wine stores (including Costco) and is enjoyed by wine fanatics and novices alike- I've never met anyone who didn't like this wine. Though the alcohol content is high (15.5% woo hoo!) I've never felt this wine was too hot. On the contrary- it sneaks up on you after a couple of glasses and you're like "man- where did that come from?"

Though the release price was $24, I've seen it south of $17 (and no tax in Massachusetts) at Costco and I just got an E-mail from The San Diego Wine Co. announcing it as their wine of the week at a similar price. You may be asking yourself- why does a Wellesley wine blog pay attention to wine shops in San Diego? More on that another time- but for now I'd just like to note that the San Diego Wine Co. is a *great* wine shop.

The first exposure I got to this brand was at a winemaker's tasting at the nearby Lower Falls Wine Co. One of the Seghesio family members came in from California to put on a tasting that was very similar to what you'd experience at a winery tasting. I enjoyed trying their smaller production Zinfandel offerings as well as some really nice Italian varietals. Next week, I'm looking forward to a similar Seghesio tasting at the Hingham Wine Merchant. I wish more shops would do these kinds of focused tasting which closely replicate the winery tasting room experience.

I put this wine in similar company as the Buehler Cabernet Sauvignon and the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot. They're great, consistent wines at reasonable prices that should find their way onto your shoppping list. I'll update this post when I get a chance to try some of this vintage.

Update! (10/19/2008): I had a chance to try a bottle of this wine. Still nice, but I do not sense an uptick from previous vintages. In fact, I think I like the 2006 better- it seemed more dense and distinctive than the 2007. I went 91 points on the 2006 and on the 2007 I say 90 points. Read my cork.com review here.

Update: This wine was named #10 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2008.  Read more about this here.

Question of the Day: Have you tried Seghesio wines in the past? What did you think of them?


mattandmargot said...

I had this wine last night, and was disappointed. It's overtly sweet, and suprisingly simple. This, combined with the "hot" finish (from the high alcohol) left an aftertaste that reminded me more of straight-up bourbon than a red wine.

I'm reminded of a comment I heard in a wine shop once - that the Wine Spectator was a good "random number generator." I've actually found that they've improved in recent years, but sometimes they lapse, as they have here. As often as not, a lot of advertising is involved.

mattandmargot said...

PS - I have had previous Seghesio vintages. I really liked the 2006 Old Vine, which had me highly anticipating the 2007 Sonoma. I guess I'll stick with the Old Vine in the future.

Bob said...

Hi mattandmargot! Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment- I appreciate it.

I didn't notice a positive uptick with this 2007 either, but I still think it is as good or better than some of their more expensive offerings and is a good value itself.

Even though the alcohol content is very high I've never "tasted" heat- though I'm frequently parched after consuming half a bottle of this in a given night and I can't say that I like that feeling. It's just a little too much sometimes, so I can see where the comparison to bourbon could apply.

Your mention of advertising being involved implies that Wine Spectator tweaks its ratings depending on how much companies spend on ads in their magazine. I personally don't believe that Wine Spectator does this.

It's not clear whether you overheard this comment at a wine shop from an owner or a customer, but when I hear wine shop owners make comments like this I think to myself "And you think *you're* less biased than Wine Spectator? You're the one with the vested interest in selling the wines on your shelf!"

Blind tasting is a difficult thing to do (as I'm sure you'll agree) and for my money Spectator does a pretty good job most of the time.

Thanks again for finding your way to my site- I hope you'll come by again!

Eric said...

Hi Bob,

I am hardly a oenophile and my experience is limited so am not in a position to judge whether 93 point ratings were justly awarded, but I purchased this wine as a change from my typical Zinfandel choice: Ridge Three Valleys. I enjoyed the wine -- even with an atypical food pairing of (gasp!) salmon... though the alcohol content may be a bit high, that did not wreck things for me. I would buy more, especially now that you told me it's available at Costco.

Thanks for your blog. I haven't read much, but the local slant is nice since I'm over in Newton.

Bob said...

Hey Eric!

Thanks for checking in! It's great to have a local comment- you'd be surprised how global the visitors to this site are.

Glad you liked the Seghesio and I think Ridge is a perennial excellent producer of Zinfandel as well. A little more expensive but just as good if not better. I was over at Costco Waltham today and I'm sorry to report- no more Seghesio in stock. :(

Hope to hear from you in the future, and have a happy holiday season!


Ian said...

At a tasting at Seghesio last weekend, I actually preferred both their Cortina (available at Total Wine, for one) and their Block 9 (not widely available) to the Sonoma County, but this is still a great value, especially if you can get it at $17.

Robert Dwyer said...

Hey Ian,

It's always a question of whether the incremental dollars deliver commensurate value, isn't it? I've not had their Block 9- sounds interesting.

How was Seghesio as a place to visit? Would you highly recommend?

Thanks for checking in!

Ian said...

Er, it was Block 8, not Block 9. Maybe Cloud 9. The tasting room folks were really warm and friendly on what was a somewhat damp Monday afternoon - we had a nice visit.

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