Well, the time has come. I have been saving the 1997 Biale Monte Rosso Zin and the 1997 Ravenswood Monte Rosso Zin for the last few years to arrange a taste-off and savagely pit one against the other. Same vineyard, same vintage, different producers, and one heck of a learning experience for the palate.
This was a planned tasting with my wife and one other couple, so there was no dinner, just bread, cheese and crackers on the side. The wines were tasted immediately upon opening.
1997 Ravenswood Monte Rosso Zin (3060 Cases Produced): This was a denser, more brooding example of the Monte Rosso fruit. It had a good deep ruby/slightly purple color to the rim. The nose was restrained blackberry, briar, and spice. The palate was dense and fairly tannic at first, but then with air revealed a nice complexity and density through a fair and complete finish.
1997 Robert Biale Monte Rosso Zin (750 Cases Produced): This wine was an absolute fruit bomb. Medium ruby color to the rim, not as dense or dark as the Ravenswood. The nose was huge briary blackfruits and spice. The palate exploded with blackberry, nutmeg & cinnamon. The tannins were light and unobtrusive. As the wine aerated in the glass, an amazing perfumy quality began to dominate and lasted through an unbelievable finish that lasted 30-40 seconds.
Taste-off impressions: First of all, I would not balk at either of these wines. Collectively they showed the magnificence of the Monte Rosso vineyard in a good year. And, suprisingly, I truly admire the qualities that each wine showed. One was dense and brooding that opened up to reveal a very rich expression of zinfandel fruit, and the other was a fruit bomb that had genuine power, no flab, and a finish that just would not quit. That said, for the immediate quaffable pleasure, I'd have to say the the Biale won out, but only by a 'nose.'
IMHO I might be tempted to age the Ravenswood just a touch longer, and the Biale, well, why wait!
93 points each.
[ 09-23-2002, 02:05 AM: Message edited by: theograd ]