David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 50
December 9, 2001 to December 15, 2001 

  Wednesday, December 12, 2001

We have started to work on our storage building again. This time we are trying to complete our upstairs. My Mother will be 80 on February 5, so we would like to have this big event over in the  new addition. We have decided to reserve the new building for family, and small events. That would include many private gatherings involving our children and their friends. 

Speaking of children!: We have two daughters. One, Kate 16.5 years and soon to be 14 years, Susie. Susie will be 14 Friday the 14th. She wants to celebrate by buying our xmas tree and going to a movie. It will be an adventure. 

There was a tasting of my wines recently involving all 7 of my estate zins. The 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 and finally the 2000. I was not in attendance, but I did duplicate the event a few days later with a friend. I prefer the 99, but they preferred the 2000. We all agree that zins should be drunken young, but they will age into interesting clarets. 

Here is my input back to Everett who held the tasting before I tasted all the wines a few days later. 

I just had the 2000 and 1999 last night. With only the two of them, I had no trouble identifying. I agree that the 2000 is a little short now and the 99 is darker, but I love the 2000 right now and when I go down to the cellar, I want it first. I tried the 98 recently, and was happy with the balance, but it was too light for me. I had a 96 recently and was happy with it and even the 97 was better than I thought. I have not had the 94 or 95 in over a year so I probably would have had trouble identifying. 

Without tasting them all together, I would probably have trouble deciding for first place between the 99 and 2000, then in probable order: the 95 and 96. Then the 94 followed by the 97 and 98. You can pass some or all of my comments on to who ever you want.

Then I responded after I tasted all the wines. 
I opened all 7 plus the 98 neighbors' last night. I am paying for it today a little. (G) 

First time through blind with Mich (Mike to you) handing me small fills (our usual procedure everytime he comes): I got 4 right. That is only one taste. 99 zin, 97 zin, 95 zin and 98. One more taste and I had no trouble with the 96, but I still had trouble with the 2000 although did get it. I probably would have gotten confused if I was tasting all 7 in front of me. I really did not rate them, but do have a definite opinion that the 94 and 95 will go for many years more. I was very pleased with the 96 and may have rated it ahead of those two. At first without a comparison, I thought the 98 had perfect balance. Also the 98 NZ was nice. Neither had the body after comparing later. The 97 was a pleasant surprise also. I thought it had lost some fruit and I could tolerate it now. 

Since then I have tasted blind, the 99 and both 2000 zins. We have an estate zin and neighbors' zin for 2000, I still prefer slightly the 2000 neighbors' to the estate, but the 99 to my tastes is more intense. Remember I am only one person and everyone perceives a wine differently. 

Here are Everett's notes to me. I have eliminated some names.
Dave, Fascinating wine tasting tonight! Wish you would have been here. 

No one was able to identify all the wines, maybe you would have but I  suspect it would have been awfully difficult. 

Here is the group order of preference: 2000, 1996, 1999, 1997, 1995, 1994, 1998 

Here is my order of preference: 2000, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1997, 1999, 1995 

Here are some general comments from the group each of the wines from 7th to 1st: 

  • 1998 - Last for most tasters, only I liked this wine (I had it second). One thought it overipe and thought it was the 97, others complained that it lacked structure and seemed past its prime drinking  stage. I felt it was at its peak drinking stage and was a classic coffaro zin, ie. smooth, round, spicy, with little tannin. 
  • 1994 - Very claret like wine, no longer like a zinfandel, most thought it past its prime for a zin, but I felt it drank like a nice older claret; One person also liked it a lot and had it ranked second. 
  • 1995 - Very closed compared to others, lacked in your face fruitiness, many noted herbal and eucalyptus notes, some oak also noted, I thought it closed, thin, and tannic compared to the group and had it last. 
  • 1997 - Two people thought it bretty and meaty, I thought it classic dry creek zinfandel, but somewhat mature, long finish and nice balance, the nose was a bit dull. 
  • 1999 - Very controversial wine, 4 place votes, very dark flavors and fruit, very concentrated, oak, I had this wine 6th because of its tannins and overall mouthfeel, though I liked the flavors, especially the black licorice aftertaste and perfect balance. 
  • 1996 - Classic Dave Coffaro Zinfandel, beautiful balnce , my third place wine, more earthy than others. 
  • 2000 - Zingy Zinfandel in your face fruitiness. Everyone except one liked this one a lot. The zinginess (acidity) was a problem for him as it shortens the finish on his palate. I loved this one a lot, my favorite zinfandel by far. This is how I hope you continue to make them, and I think the 2001 will be even better than this one! 
I was able only to clearly identify the 94 and guessed right about he 96. One person was certain about the 2000. My overall impression is that these wines are best drunk in their first 2 years for maximum fruit enjoyment. Though if people ask whether your zinfandels can age, I think the answer is clearly yes. Only the 95 seems questionable for me. I don't know that this wine will become an interesting claret with more aging, though I certainly have been wrong before. Wish you could have been here to chime in, and wonder how well you and and Brendan would have been able to identify all 7 vintages blind!


Here is Everett's posting to a wine forum:

Title: Coffaro Zinfandel Tasting 1994 - 2000 

Our tasting group tasted all 7 of Dave’s Zinfandels on Dec. 6, 2001. The wines were tasted blind and each taster ranked them in order of preference from 1st to 7th. Below are the summary results from the tasting. Total points are listed along with the number of 1st, 2ndand 3rd place votes for each wine. Overall impression of the group was that the wines were all quite good drinking. While many of us were familiar with the wines nobody was able to identify all the vintages, although individuals were correct about some of the vintages. It was somewhat difficult to rank the wines since distinct styles and stages of maturity were evident. If there was any question whether Coffaro zinfandels can age, this tasting showed that the young fruity wines from 1994-96 have matured into claret-styled wines. At what stage to drink them is a personal choice. I love Dave’s zins for the in your face fruit with little tannin and crisp finish. Thus I drink the majority of each vintage within 18 months of release. The first place finish for the 2000 vintage is consistent with the opinion that for many the prime drinking stage of Coffaro Zinfandels begins when they recover from being bottled, which often is just a few weeks to a few months. 

Listed below from 7th to 1st place are: 

  • 1998 (0,1,0) The most common critique of this wine was that it lacked structure compared to the rest of the group. One taster thought the fruit overripe, another felt the wine was past its prime and seemed tired. The taster who ranked it second, liked the spicy zin fruity character and the smooth finish.
  • 1994 (0,1,0) The most common critique of this wine was that it had little zin character and was more claret-like. Some also felt it past its prime. The wine seemed quite mature and was clearly an older wine to all tasters. On its own this wine would be quite enjoyable with food and a good substitute for a mature claret. In a zinfandel tasting however, this one certainly seemed differently with little obvious zinfandel fruit. 
  • 1995 (0,2,1) Comments ranged from little bouquet, to pronounced eucalyptus and herbal notes. Some noted oak. Like the 1994 this one lacked the zin fruit character of younger vintages but was more recognizable as zinfandel compared to the 94. Nobody noted this wine to be past its prime and the wine still exhibited firm structure including tannins and acids on the finish. There was some question in the minds of some whether this wine would improve with additional age. 
  • 1997 (1,1,4) Comments ranged from meaty, slightly bretty, to classic dry creek zin fruit. While not fresh and young any longer, this wine still had plenty of zin fruit character. An interesting wine to drink to now. 
  • 1999 (4,0,0) An interesting and somewhat controversial wine as 4 tasters had this first, and 5 had it in their bottom 3. Considerably more tannic and rough on the finish than other wines, very dark fruited flavors, oak. Very nice balance with a black licorice-like follow through. 
  • 1996 (1,2,3). Some thought this a classic Coffaro zinfandel and were surprised to see it was 5 years old, while others felt it showed some maturity in the mouth. Beautifully balanced and fruity tasting. Some earthy notes in the finish and a bit lean in body. Terrific to drink now and somewhat of a cross between a claret and a zinfandel. 
  • 2000 (3,2,3). Intense, zingy, zinfandel fruit, yet soft and round in the mouth with no obvious tannins at the finish. Long fruity aftertaste. Black and blue fruits in the nose and on the palate. Some oak evident in the mouth but well integrated and doesn’t dominate the fruit. Perfect for current drinking when a richly fruited zinfandel is called for.


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