Experiencing ZD Wines, Take Two

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-11-2019

ZD 50thLast October, I tasted through a trio from ZD Wines. Now we’re back for another round with ZD’s spring/summer releases. The 2016 ZD Reserve Chardonnay was the big winner for me last time, so I was curious to see if the Pinot and Cab would stand out more.

As usual, with Isaac delivering his excellent (and plentiful!) tasting notes in the more customary style for Terroirist, my notes take a different form, woven into vignettes that capture an experience and (I hope) inform as well as entertain.

Before diving in, let me say there’s nothing better than sharing an expensive bottle of wine with folks who’ve never been able to afford such a luxury, and seeing their faces as they reach for another pour.

2017 ZD Founder’s Reserve Pinot Noir (SRP $90)

Sushi is so much a part of American millennial culture that I was shocked to hear that two of my friends had never tried it. On a Wednesday night we gathered around a rooftop table at a local BYOB joint to give them their first taste of raw fish. I sweetened the pot with this bottle from ZD, the price point of which made eyes widen.

The wine didn’t hesitate to show off its youthful vibrancy, hitting our nostrils even from five feet away with an alluring red-fruited essence as it glugged bright and strawberry-hued into our glasses. I helped the guys pick sashimi and a couple classic rolls while our wives swirled and drank and took turns bouncing two little ones on their knees. Right on queue, my wife came in with the story of how I once made her try sea urchin.

We all agreed that the wine was an awesomely complex blend of smells—foremost to me was sour cherry that made my tongue sweat and some nice black licorice. My wife concluded the wine possessed “a warmness and a freshness,” to which I added, “a certain spiciness in my mouth that begs me to drink it now, lest it vanish.”

It was a great night in the open air. The guys enjoyed their raw fish and I was pleased to see the 2017 Founder’s Reserve Pinot absolutely blow its older brother from 2016 out of the water!

2016 ZD Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $75)

I opened this bottle over dinner at my parents’ house, the place where so many great bottles are emptied.

Risking the faux pas, I jammed my nose into the freshly uncorked bottle and breathed in a deep caramel aroma that reminded me of the gooey center of one of those individually wrapped Ghirardelli chocolate squares. In the glass the Cab was deep purple and as it swirled and met the air I caught bitter black licorice (not the sweet stuff) and pencil shavings, further evidence that this wine has indeed spent 22 months in American Oak.

When we got down to actually drinking the Cab (there’s 12% Petit Verdot in there too) it was a mixed bag. The nose was so captivating I was let down when the fruit didn’t dance on my tongue. I expected more. The finish, however, was dynamic, with great tongue-coating tannins and enough acidity to add balance and make things interesting. I wouldn’t call the finish “incredibly long,” as the tasting notes promise, but it was long enough to get my attention.

In wine blending, it’s often as easy as mixing a good smelling wine with a good tasting wine. This Cab falls more in the former category.

2017 ZD Reserve Chardonnay (SRP $80)

My wife is pretty awesome. Early this month she surprised me with a birthday weekend in Lancaster, PA. On our first night in town, after a guided excursion through Amish country—which ended with dinner with an Amish family at their farm, which happened to be the filming location for 1985’s Witness starring Harrison Ford—we retired to our cozy downtown AirBnb to binge Season 5 of The Amazing Race and drink this Chardonnay.

With shoofly pie still on my breath, I pulled the bottle from the fridge and was soon filling my nostrils with the beautifully nostalgic smell of canned mandarin oranges, just like my grandma used to give me when I was little. I also got white grape juice, apple Jolly Rancher, and something uncannily like the unscented ChapStick brand chapstick, which I love!

The flavors were equally pleasing, with vanilla, toast, and lightly buttered popcorn most prominent. With a solid backbone of acidity, this is a great Chardonnay for hotter weather and a plate of food. I was actually surprised to read it hasn’t undergone ML. It gives off a surprising amount, albeit subtle, of buttery notes. I guess that’s just the magic of the ZD style Chard: cold barrel fermentation, 15 months in small oak barrels, and exclusion of ML.

When my wife and I had finished our binge and the entirety of Season 5, she yelled at me for again drinking an entire bottle myself. This Reserve Chardonnay is quickly becoming one of my favorite whites from California.

Comments are closed.