Unbeknownst to me, the 2003 vintage was troubled for Dry Creek Zinfandels. The first rumblings I heard about the difficulty were brought up by Alder Yarrow over at Vinography. He described a tasting of 2003 Dry Creek Zinfandels conducted by the Appelation America folks, where Dave Rafanelli was quoted as saying,"2003 magnified all the defects of the Zinfandel grape.”
When I dropped by Rafanelli on Mother's Day of this year though I was, like a good cultist, buying on faith. I took my allotment of three bottles and was happy to get them. I might have talked about the vintage with Dave but, just as he began signing a Terrace Select Cabernet I'd picked up, his daughter came by to let him know that someone had made off with his credit card number.
Difficult vintage aside, when I returned to the winery this past October there was no Zinfandel to be had. Part of what fuels the cult-like appreciation for these wines is their intensity and depth. Throw in their relatively small production, the low prices at which they are offered, and there you have it.
The 2003 Zinfandel is characteristically deep and intense. It also tastes of brighter red fruit than the last several vintages I've had, tastes slightly of raisin. The cummulative effect of all this is to suggest more lively acid, possibly increased alcohol.
After market retail prices for bottles of the wine have nearly doubled to about 60.00 per.