Big, red, New World wines (California and Australia) were my first real introduction to the wine world. My Phoenix upbringing/roots made those wines easily accessible in the local market; meanwhile, my older brother and sister-in-law had gotten a jump start on traveling to the CA wine country in search of the best wines on offer. I can't remember exactly which year it was they came across Tobin James Cellars. But I know it was early in their wine making history (mid/late 90s). Tobin James became not only a staple those first years I returned from college for Christmas vacation but also during the summers, when my brother would bring a case to our little vacation spot in Rhode Island. These wines were always a particular treat. On a more daily basis I admittedly spent my pennies on Yellow Tail and Buckley's (a topic for another day, perhaps...). So for this Wine Blogging Wednesday where Lenndevours encouraged us to celebrate WBW's 4th Birthday by returning to our roots, of course Tobin is a natural choice for me. Even though Tobin is a rare find in these parts - especially when it comes to the really good stuff - I happen to have a secret stash in my cellar. The challenge this WBW was not which producer to return to, but rather which wine (read: varietal) to select. I decided to go with the '04 Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel, since Paso Robles is largely Zin Country and I've found Tobin's Dusi Vineyard selection to be consistent vintage after vintage.

I could look at a line up of Tobin red wines and be in heaven. This one was an inky, deep, violet color as it flowed out of the bottle and into my glass. Made from 80-year-old vines such concentration comes as no surprise, nor the fact that it offered bright, juicy fruit, just shy of the fruit bomb jammy explosion I often associate with this part of the world. The wine had just a touch of smoke too, with some earthiness and typical black pepper notes, which sang a soft tune on the finish. I'm not sure how much oak this wine sees, but it doesn't feel heavy-handed; rather the oak imparts a smooth, lush, sexy mouthfeel that sucks you in for another taste. It is well-balanced, with the acidity and tannins commingling happily with the fruit's fleshy, fullness. If you've got a bottle, I encourage you to decant it. I didn't this time because I wasn't sure I would finish the bottle - and actually wanted to taste it again after a day or so. But I definitely got a little extra "protein" on Day 2 as I polished it off.... A final note of applause: this wine doesn't bring the exceptional heat you might expect for a wine coming in at 15.6% alcohol; the layers of flavor are what you remember.

As much as perhaps 90% of my wine expenditures support Old World producers these days, each time I pop open a bottle of Tobin James I'm uniquely satisfied. Granted I'm likely a bit biased because this wine is from my roots. But I'm ok with that. Satisfaction is as satisfaction does.

What wine helps define your wine-drinking "roots"? Have you ever enjoyed a Tobin James selection?

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