Category Archives: Zinfandel

Zinfandel Can Improve With Age

July 4th yesterday, and instead of heading to Santa Cruz Lori and I were home with a sick cat.  Not what we had planned, but we had to make the best of it.  So we watched some World Cup games, some baseball, just generally relaxed, and planned our own little barbeque.  A rack of ribs, corn on the cob, homemade cole slaw.  Lori’s got a great recipe for the slaw, which involves garlic powder in the sauce.  (If you’re interested, you should ask her.)  For the ribs we used some plum BBQ sauce that we made a year ago.  The recipe for that is on the Food and Wine Pairing page of the main website, and it was great with the ribs.


For wine, we pulled out a bottle of 2004 Peachy Canyon Winery Zinfandel, Old Schoolhouse Vineyard (Paso Robles).  Obviously, we decanted the bottle.  It took about 30 minutes to open up, then had everything:  great nose, fruit on entry, nice and chewy texture, good tannins on the finish.  Bite of ribs, sip of wine.  Rinse and repeat, to borrow from other instructions.

Good Zinfandel can age, and age well.  Maybe not the 20+ years for the high end reds, but this had everything I want in a wine, including the complexity and balance.  Better now than it was in the first few years after bottling.  Of course, you have to start with good zinfandel, and Peachy Canyon is a great winery to keep in mind for Zinfandel.  Always an enjoyable tasting experience too, if you get to Paso Robles.

I hope you all had a great holiday yourselves.



Winemaker B and Armida Rock the 90s

No, this is not an article about rock ’n’ roll in the
90s.  This is about
Winemaker B (aka
Brandon Lapides), of
, nailing a few 90+ scores from Wine Spectator.  So let’s just lay it out here: 


2011 Parmelee-Hill Vineyard Zinfandel     91

2011 Maple Vineyard Zinfandel           90

2010 Parmelee-Hill Vineyard Zinfandel     90


Armida:  Looking
past 2013’s empty grape bins toward the Dry Creek Valley. 


Now the bad news – good news story.  The bad news is that you can’t buy
these wines, unless you luck out somehow. 
Both 2010 and 2011 harvests were lower than normal, and these vineyards
were no different. Not that much wine was made either year, especially the
vineyard designated wines, and it’s tough to find now.  The good news is that both 2012 and
2013 had excellent harvests, from a quantity perspective.  And the better news is that both 2012
and 2013 seem better right now than 2010 and 2011, from a quality


One interesting note is that these vineyards, Maple and
Parmelee-Hill, produce completely different grapes.  Not surprising, since they’re in completely different
locations.  Maple Vineyards is the
classic Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel vineyard, with head-trained vines, including
some blocks that were planted nearly 100 years ago.  It’s all about the fruit as it enters your mouth, and it’s wonderful.  Parmelee-Hill is a Sonoma Coast
vineyard, actually closer to the Carneros region.  Armida gets some Pinot Noir grapes from that vineyard also, so
you know it has to be in a cooler microclimate.  Parmelee_Hill Zinfandels, at least as made by Winemaker B,
have more complexity than usually seen in Zinfandels, and more subtle fruit
flavors.  In my experience it’s
relatively unusual for a winery and winemaker to excel at both styles of



Harvest is drawing to a close for Armida, leaves are turning
colors.  All the grapes were in
about 10 days ago.  There’s still
wine fermenting, and Winemaker B likes to call the end of harvest when they’re
through with primary fermentations and those tanks get emptied.  I think a more practical definition of
end of harvest is when he gets his first day completely off:  not one trip to the winery.  Once again this year, he’s worked every
day from the Tuesday after Labor Day to probably the weekend after
Halloween.  (That’s 9 weeks straight
without a day off, but who’s counting? 
Besides his wife and kids, that is.) 



We went to Armida a week ago to help with grandkids, and
check on the 2013 harvest. 
Beautiful day, and we spent a few hours there tasting, picnicing and trying
to tire out the grandkids.  (They
won that battle.)  Above, future
winemaker Elli was helping behind the tasting room bar, while below, future
winemaker Eden gets to relax with his father. 





Larry Lapides


Harvest 2013: Initial Update

We spoke with Winemaker B last week, as harvest was just starting.  This is now his 4th harvest at Armida Winery; amazing how time goes by!  For his first harvest at Armida, his first child was about 3 months old, and for this harvest, his second is about the same age.  But 2010 was a tough harvest from the winery perspective as well:  first harvest as head winemaker, first harvest at Armida, and the grapes were just good, but not great, throughout the region. 

2011 was not a great vintage either in the Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys, where Armida gets most of their grapes.  2012 had incredible quantity, and pretty good quality, as far as we can tell so far.  So what to expect in 2013?

Well, the initial report from Winemaker B is that this could be an excellent year for Armida.  No real weather problems during the growing season, no spikes near harvest, just a consistent warmth for the grapes.  Add to that some better technique in the vineyards, and more knowledge on the part of Winemaker B as to what each vineyards’ characteristics are and how to optimize the quality from each vineyard, and it could add up to an outstanding year for Winemaker B and Armida. 

Armida has always been known for its Zinfandels, and this year could be a lot of fun.  Winemaker B has always had a feel for Zinfandel, dating back to the early part of his career at Peachy Canyon Winery.  In his first harvest at Armida he got the Parmelee-Hill Zinfandel, which should still be sitting in the bottle and getting better.  2011 was the year for the Maple Vineyards Zinfandel to shine.  He’s still not sure about the best from 2012, although the Goldmine Vineyard Zinfandel is the early favorite.  This year, the betting money (even before bringing in the grapes) seems to be on Tina’s Block from Maple Vineyard producing the top Zinfandel.  And, of course, there’s always the Poizin Reserve, in the coffin. 

More updates to come, probably focusing on the white wines next time.