There seems to be a predilection for Zinfandel to be produced in certain areas of California and over the last century these areas have rewarded us with the amazing elixir we have come to love. The styles do vary depending upon the soil and climate, and, further, the winemakers have a profound effect on the final product. Still, there is a targeted quality as to how this grape should be rendered into Zinfandel. There is a descriptive word, “bramble” that denotes Zinfandel. This is a quality that combines elements of cedar and raspberry. Look for it when sampling through these wines and if you recognize it try to describe departures from this character.
2012 Chatom Vineyards Zinfandel, Calaveras County
List price 15.00; Our price 12.50
Located in the heart of "Gold Country" in the Sierra Foothills Appellation, the winery and property were recently sold. Of Course, Zin production will continue here, but there will be a name change. We have a small amount left and will enjoy it for the last time. After letting the bottle open up for a bit you will discover very juicy, blackberry notes with a bit of spice. It does pair well with goat cheeses, richly sauced dishes and grilled meats.
2016 Artezin Zinfandel, Old Vine, Mendocino County
List price 16.00; Our price 13.99
This wine is composed of 84% Zinfandel with smaller parts of Petite Sirah and Carignan. Aromas of red fruits dominate, showing pomegranate, cherry and boysenberry, accented by white pepper and cedary oak spice. It is lush and round, with fine grain tannins and a very long finish, suggesting the potential for aging. It will pair well with grilled meats, rich pastas with a Bolognese sauce, hearty stews and artisan cheeses.
2015 Van Ruiten Zinfandel, Old Vine, Lodi
List price 18.00; Our price 14.99
This wine has aromas of cherry, plum, bramble fruit and black pepper. In the mouth there are flavors of cranberry, anise, cherry, spice and vanilla. This wine has rich fruit flavors with good structure and soft tannins. The finish lingers with a pleasant spice note. Try it with barbecue ribs, pastas with tomato-based sauces, grilled chicken and pork and with robust cheeses (Romano/Cheddar)
2014 Opaque Zinfandel, Paso Robles
List price 30.00; Our price 19.99
Here are bright, roasted aromas and flavors of butter roasted nuts, leather and toast with a soft, lively, fruity full body and a smooth, complex, medium-length finish. Chocolate berries, spiced nuts, toasty oak, and roasted coffee beans finish with fine, dusty tannins and moderate oak. This is not your typical Zinfandel but it is stylish with bold, toasty oak spice. It bodes well for burgers, hot dogs and ribs.
2015 Bear Flag Zinfandel, Sonoma County
List price 28.00; Our price 24.95
The Bear Flag Revolt, the fight for Californian independence took place in Sonoma, right about the time that Zinfandel was introduced into the state. This blend of 78% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, 6% Teroldego, 5% Malbec, and 2% other varieties, comes mostly from Dry Creek Valley. The aromas here are peppery spice and blueberry tart and the palate is rich, dense, and forward. 92-points from Wine Spectator: “Plump and piquant, with expressive blackberry and orange zest aromas and lots of personality, accenting smoky cracked pepper and black olive flavors that build toward zesty tannins. Drink now through 2022”. Try it with a steak.
1993/1994 Shenandoah Vineyards Zinfandel Port, Lot 5
List price 45.00; Our price 39.99
Shenandoah Vineyards in Plymouth, CA, was founded in 1977 by Shirley and Leon Sobon. Leon retired some years ago and turned the winery and vineyard care over to his 6 children. He is widely recognized as a leader in the wine industry and helped revitalize the interest in Amador County wines. I talked to Leon about this wine which he remembers fondly, having combined the wine from two years to enhance richness. Let’s try it!
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