Home > Fair, Good, Poor, Rare Wine Fine Wine Old Wine Mature Wine, Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > A Pandemic Tasting of Old Californian Wines with Lou

A Pandemic Tasting of Old Californian Wines with Lou


Lou and I met up outside several times during the pandemic to taste a few bottles of wine. We started off with a small group of Zinfandel. Despite a rather disappointing performance as a whole, the bottle of 1979 Santino, Zinfandel, Special Selection, Fiddletown, Amador County stood out and rightfully so.

It was the same year of our bottle, 1979, that Scott Harvey took over as General Manager and Winemaker at Santino Winery. He had spent the previous years studying in Germany and locally at Story Vineyard and Montevina. When Scott Harvey wrote to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in support of creating a Fiddletown appellation, he noted that his best and most expensive Zinfandel wines came from Fiddletown. The fruit for the 1979 Special Selection we drank was made using fruit sourced from 60 year old vines at Chester Eschen’s Vineyard. Ridge Vineyards was also purchasing Zinfandel fruit from the same vineyard beginning in 1974.

I found the Santino offered up plenty of satisfaction until my share of the bottle was done.

1971 Fortino Winery, Zinfandel

Alcohol 12.5%. A rather old nose but some attractive vintage perfume survives. In the mouth sweaty flavors exist in a watery and light wine with bits of greenness. Fortunately, the sweaty, earthy aspect returns in the somewhat complex finish. *(*) Drink up.

1978 Mirassou, Unfiltered Zinfandel, Monterey County new label

Alcohol 13%. Slightly cloudy in the glass. A touch of overripe fruit. A medicinal note then tart red fruit with some cranberry like verve. Tastes of young vines. *(*) Drink up.

1978 Mirassou, Unfiltered Zinfandel, Monterey County old label

Alcohol 12.5%. Meaty flavors of firm cherry and tart red fruit before the textured finish. Vintage perfume mixes with fresh acidity and a hint of wood box. ** Now.

1979 Santino, Zinfandel, Special Selection, Fiddletown, Amador County

This wine is 100% Zinfandel sourced from 60 year old non-irrigated vines located at Eschen’s Vineyard. It was aged in small French oak barrels. Alcohol 14%. Clearly the best of all wine. Mature but plenty of fruit, texture, and balance. In fine shape with plenty of life ahead but pleasurable now. *** Now.

1980 A. Rafanelli, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

Alcohol 14.2%. Unfortunately, I did not write down a note.

  1. William Hughes
    December 7, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Aged Zinfandel can be a real treat!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: