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Zinfandel Buyers Guide

Zinfandel is one of the most popular wine grapes grown in California and is especially popular in northern California and the central coast. The vines like warm, sunny days but dislike intense heat, and the thin skinned-fruit is susceptible to rot. Good draining is key, making them good for planting on slopes. Zinfandel is typically grown in the summer and harvested as early as mid-August or well into fall, often called a "late harvest" Zinfandel.
 
Old vine zinfandels are red wines made from grapevines over 50 years old. These are prized for their intense color and balanced flavors and often fetch a high price. Old vines grapes are almost exclusively used to make red zinfandel.

The grape is also known as Crljenak Kastelanski in its native Croatia and as primitivo in southern Italy. 2019 Gianfranco Fino - Primitivo; 2013 Pietraventosa - Primitivo Gioa del Colle Riserva; 2016 Tormaresca - Primitivo Salento IGT Torcicoda

Zinfandel is known for its rich, dark purple skin, medium to high tannin levels, high alcohol content, and medium acidity. While the red wine tends to be medium-bodied and medium dry, it is bursting with flavors and aromas of jam, raspberry, blackberry, cherry, plums, cinnamon, black pepper, and licorice all wrapped around various intensities of oak.

Zinfandel Food Pairing:

Think curry spice... Since Zinfandel leans to the sweeter side of red wine, it’s a great pairing partner with spicy dishes and curry. Zinfandel pairs well with Moroccan and Turkish spices that embellish the wine’s cinnamon-spice subtleties. The hearty, bold flavors in Zinfandel make it a natural companion for the rich and flavorful world of ribs, grilled chicken, roast lamb, pulled pork, pork chops, blackened salmon, bacon-wrapped tenderloin, game meats, and burgers.

Zinfandel Regions:

Certain California regions are regarded as "exceptional" for Zinfandel, each with identifiable flavor characteristics:

Sonoma county has a Zinfandel-producing land area second only to that of San Joaquin County. The county contains the warm Dry Creek Valley AVA, known for its juicy Zinfandel with bright fruit, balanced acidity and notes of blackberry, anise and pepper. Dry Creek Valley produces Zinfandel in a variety of styles ranging from the high-alcohol Amador style to balanced, spicy wines.  2016 Day - Zinfandel Dry Creek Grist Vineyard; 2019 Ridge - Zinfandel East Bench Dry Creek; 2018 Once & Future - Sonoma Bedrock Vineyard; 2012 Robert Biale - Sonoma Pagani Ranch

San Luis Obispo, particularly the Paso Robles AVA with its hot days and cool maritime evenings, produces Zinfandel known for being soft and round. 2017 Ridge - Zinfandel Paso Robles

While the Napa Valley AVA is known primarily for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, Napa also produces Zinfandel wines described as plummy and intense, tasting of red berry fruits with cedar and vanilla. Zinfandel in Napa tends to be made in a claret style like red Bordeaux. 2017 Fontanella Family - Zinfandel Napa; 2018 Ballentine - Napa Estate; 2019 Frogs Leap - Napa Valley; 2013 Robert Biale - Varozza Vineyard

The Russian River Valley generally produces well during warm vintages. Otherwise, the grapes do not fully ripen, leaving the wines with excessive acidity. The area has mostly "old vine" Zinfandel, characterized as spicy and somewhat lower in alcohol than Zinfandel from other regions. 2019 Limerick Lane Zinfandel Sonoma Russian River;

Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California. While often used for White Zinfandel production, in the red style, Lodi Zinfandels have a reputation for being juicy and approachable. 2017 Rubus Zinfandel Old Vines Lodi; 2017 Cosentino Winery - Lodi The Zin

 

2018 Decoy - Zinfandel Sonoma
750ml | SKU 86441 
JS
90
2019 Frog's Leap - Zinfandel Napa Valley
750ml | SKU 87494  You will be tempted to drink this wine while it is in its youthful, delicious phase and this is a temptation that you should give in to!
2018 Ballentine Vineyards - Zinfandel Napa Estate
750ml | SKU 86501  Hints of eucalyptus and holiday spices bring savory herbaceous notes to this medium-bodied wine.
2016 Day - Zinfandel Dry Creek Grist Vineyard
750ml | SKU 75601 
VM
90
The 2016 Zinfandel Grist shows the more exuberant side of Zinfandel off to great effect.
2012 Robert Biale - Zinfandel Sonoma Pagani Ranch
750ml | SKU 64862 
WE
92
An iconic Zinfandel from one of the oldest vineyards in California
2013 Robert Biale - Zinfandel Napa Varozza Vineyard
750ml | SKU 64863 
91
Now with 7 years of age, this wine is drinking - a real treat !
2017 Fontanella Family - Zinfandel Napa
750ml | SKU 82725  A beautifully balanced and classic 'old vine' Zinfandel from Napa.