Tasting Notes: Dobra Zemlja Winery, Plymouth, Amador County

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a tradition yet, but for the third year in a row, I spent Black Friday doing some wine tasting in Amador County. Coming from Napa, I almost feel like a bully passing judgment on Amador’s wine industry,dobra so I make sure to approach everything with an open mind and a realistic expectations. But despite this mindset, I always manage to discover some really bizzaro wines in the foothills. At my first stop, which I won’t even bother to name, almost every single wine was suspect (for those who really need to know the identity of this winery, I will offer one clue: they sell the most expensive bottle of wine in the entire county, and it retails for $85).

As a burgeoning wine region, Amador can sometimes be a minefield of oddball and ill-conceived wines, as winemakers experiment with new varietals or new regimens. I certainly don’t expect all Amador wines to be perfect — or even good for that matter — but I do expect to find an occasional diamond in the rough, as long as I’m willing put in the time. Fortunately, I can always rely upon Dobra Zemlja to deliver some consistency, with wines that capture the very best elements of Amador County. During this particular session, I tasted their entire flight of current releases, which featured one Viognier, six reds, and three dessert wines.

For me, the two most noteworthy wines of the day were the 2008 Dobra Zemlja Sangiovese and the 2008 Dobra Zemlja Barbera. Both wines exhibited terrific fruit, with the Sangiovese capturing distinct strawberry overtones and the Barbera displaying an opulent palate of darker fruits. The other four reds were also worth mentioning, however, including an honest 2007 Dobra Zemlja Tempranillo, and rustic takes on the 2007 Dobra Zemlja Syrah and the 2007 Dobra Zemlja Zinfandel (both wines feature layers of oak that still need to mellow). Of course, one of the best deals in Amador County is Dobra Zemlja’s “Milan Ruz” red table wine, sold in liter jugs and available for refill.

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