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K&L Staff Recommendations
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A softer, more lush and voluptuous texture can be found in the 2013 7 Deadly Zins, which is also 100% Zinfandel from Lodi. The production here is 280,000 cases! To produce such a high-volume wine of this quality is pretty remarkable winemaking. Loads of ripeness, fruit, glycerin and medium to full-bodied silky mouthfeel make for a delicious effort.... Year in year out, this is one of the best value wineries in the entire world. Working from grape sources in Lodi, they offer an assortment of wines, but their top cuvées are always the rather solid, full-fl ...Read More »
93 points Wine Spectator: "Plump and luscious, this is jam-packed with fruit. Lively blackberry, pepper, and other spice box aromas lead to ripe and rich flavors of black raspberry, caramel, and licorice. There are more complex Zinfandels, but few that are more enjoyable to drink. Drink now through 2022." (12/2015)
A very shy producing vineyard with soils of volcanic ash and boulders, this site produces old vine Zinfandel of immense proportions.
94 points Wine & Spirits: "Jay Heminway got his start in Bordeaux as a college student in the 1960s, working a summer with Alexis Lichine. He founded Green & Red in the eastern hills of Napa Valley in the 1970s, focused on zinfandel. This wine grows at the highest vineyard on the estate, topping out at 1,800 feet, where he planted a northeast-facing slope in the late 1990s. It’s a fruit-driven zin, the freshness and sunny aspects pointed up by his team’s work at the new sorting table installed in 2013. All that fruit seems to glow from within, surrounded by scents of bay and wild ...Read More »
Though the 2014 has yet to be professionally reviewed, the 2013 garnered 91 points and praise from Wine Advocate: "A blend of 80% Zinfandel, 11% Carignan, 8% Petite Sirah and a splash of Alicante Bouschet, the 2013 Three Valleys has lots of berry fruits, bramble, spice-box and licorice in its medium-bodied, supple, nicely textured, and delicious profile." (JD, 10/2015)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 5,800-case cuvée 2013 Foxglove Zinfandel, which comes from Paso Robles, exhibits a medium-ruby color, hefty, full-bodied...sexy, briary and berry fruit, and a Pinot Noir-like lushness and sensitivity with virtually no oak in evidence. This is a well-made, stylish and seductive Zinfandel to drink over the next several years. (RP)" (10/2015) Vinous: "A rich, boisterous wine, the 2013 Zinfandel literally jumps from the glass with exuberant, racy red fruits. Aging in steel keeps the flavors bright, focused and floral throughout. (AG)" (7/2015)
Ancient Peaks has become known for producing one of Paso Robles’ most acclaimed Zinfandels. Here, amid one of the region’s coolest growing environments, the Zinfandel grape achieves a rare balance of robust flavors and elegant structure. Zinfandel has been a cornerstone variety of Paso Robles for more than 100 years, and the folks at Ancient Peaks are proud to feature it in their small family of wines.
91 points Vinous: "The 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel is deep, rich and luscious, with plenty of up-front fruit and tons of appeal. More of a field blend than a true Zinfandel, the 2014 is soft and forward, with expressive red-fleshed fruit, bright acidity and terrific overall balance. The Old Vine is 77% Zinfandel and a generous 23% mixed blacks. Best of all, the Old Vine Zinfandel is a fabulous value. This is a stellar set of wines from Morgan Twain-Peterson and Chris Cottrell. In general, the 2014s feel a bit brighter and more acid-driven than most recent vintages. Readers sho ...Read More »
92 points Wine & Spirits: "This wine emphasizes Zinfandel’s gentle tannins (rather than the more rustic tannins of thick-skinned mixed blacks, with which Zin is so often blended). It has the briary taste of black raspberries and a stemmy green scent of strawberry tops. Clean and saturated with flavor, this is ready to decant for ribs or other smoky barbecue." (2/2016) Wine Spectator: "A zesty red, with black cherry and smoky cracked pepper aromas and balanced flavors of plum, licorice and grilled herb. (TF)" (6/2015)
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* With opulent ripe fruit flavors and plenty of tannin and acidity to back them, this is a complete, balanced and appetizing wine. It smells like blackberry with smoky, meaty accents, tastes rich and full of berries, and feels firm and tangy on the palate." (4/2015) 90 points Wine Spectator: "A lively Zin, focused and sleek, with floral raspberry and fresh loam aromas. Vibrant flavors agilely balance bright acidity and ripe tannins, plus accents of white pepper and anise. Drink now through 2021." (6/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* Amador Zinfandels have typically been a gutsy and f ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a full-bodied but also subtle and complex-flavored wine. The aromas bring in mild wood smoke and black-pepper notes, then the flavors add ample fruitiness without going to jamminess. The overall effect is one of sophistication." (10/2016) K&L Notes: This nicely priced bottling from Joel Gott is 100% Zinfandel sourced from Mendocino, Sonoma, Lake County, Amador, and Lodi. It is a true snapshot of California varietal expression. The wine was aged in 20% new American oak and 80% two-year-old French oak. Tasting notes from the producer: "The 2014 California Zinfa... Read More »
Valravn is a small project by the folks behind Banshee Wines, with one clear mission: helping the Zinfandel grape live up to its potential glory. Their dry-farmed, bush-pruned vines range from 50 to 105 years old. Made by hand on a small scale, these wines are the antithesis to the jammy mass-produced Zins you can often find on the market. From the winery: "Layers of richness and complexity wrap around a core of wild strawberry and raspberry. Intoxicating aromatics with scents of mocha, espresso roast, violets and ripe red berries. Rich on the palate wit... Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Zinfandel Dry Creek has briary fruit, not quite the density of the 2013s, but beautiful berry fruit, especially raspberries and black cherries, medium to full body, and again, stunning purity. I think this is the first time I’ve had a good look at these wines, and I’m impressed. Drink this one over the next 5-6 years. It is likely to be shorter-lived than the 2013s." (3/2016)
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I tasted five Zinfandels from St. Francis. The 2013 Zinfandel Old Vines, made from 50- to 110-year-old vines, is a gorgeous Zinfandel - deep ruby purple, with loads of blackberry and black cherry fruit, full-bodied opulence, good purity and richness. Drink it over the next 5-6 years. (RP)" (3/2016)
Wine Spectator: "Lively and light-footed, with appealing notes of fresh raspberry, anise and white pepper. Drink now through 2019. (TF)" (6/2015)
Wine Spectator: "Rustic and briary, but complex in structure, with notes of black cherry, licorice and smoky herb. Drink now through 2023. 1,042 cases made." (6/2016)
Wine Enthusiast: "A field blend with defined amounts of Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet, this wine is perfumed and light bodied, exhibiting soft, persistent waves of black pepper and crisp red fruit that give it a cool-climate edge of approachability and intrigue. (VB)" (4/2016)
From Jeff Runquist: "The 2014 wine has a deep purple color of substantial depth due to the contribution of 18% Petite Sirah which is also grown on the Massoni Ranch. The hues are bright garnet. The aroma is loaded with black raspberry, dark cherry and plum. Seventeen months in small barrels has contributed a bouquet of cocoa, hazelnut and dark chocolate. The flavors are soft and luscious and feature succulent red currants and raspberry."
Shirley and Leon Sobon originally founded Shenandoah Vineyards in 1977, and with the purchase of another winery in Amador County in 1989, they created Sobon Estate.
The 2014 vintage in California was a friendly one for Zinfandel, with a long, warm, even-keeled ripening season. Tasting notes from the winery: "Our classic California Zinfandel is dark purple-ruby, with a youthful red hue. The nose entices with scents of raspberry, cranberry, licorice, and spice. Lush and concentrated flavors of ripe cherry, dark berries, and vanilla flood the palate, followed by touches of pepper and spice. Very fine tannins and great length make for a satisfying finish."
Double Gold Medal winner from the San Francisco Chronicle. From the winemaker: "Mountain Zinfandel is an aggressively fruity, dark, rich wine. Jammy aromas of raspberry and plum are balanced by floral lavender and violet. A lush, round mouth of plum and cherry flavors lead to a finish that is long and satisfying. This wine is bold enough to accompany spicy fare brilliantly - try it with spicy sausage like Andouille or Opolo's own Cevap Cici!"
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Earthy dried herb and truffle provide a rough-and-tumble point of view in this wine, a mix of complexity and contoured acidity. The shy, juicy red fruit is cradled in integrated oak." (10/2016) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Bold raspberry and toasty spice aromas combines with lively, jammy flavors of black cherry, smoky anise and dried sage. Drink now through 2027. (TF, Web-2016)" (10/2016)
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* Spot on in its varietal precision and a nicely managed wine in every respect, Dashe's appellation bottling from the Dry Creek Valley is everything that well-made Zinfandel should be. There are others that can claim more potency and power just as there are some that are deeper and more complex, but this one gets the nod for its constancy, class and cohesion, and it is a flavorful, but never-too-pushy rendition that will drink splendidly with an especially wide range of foods over the next four or five years." (9/2016) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Zinfandel from Dr ...Read More »
Vinous: "The 2012 Zinfandel, from Ink Grade, is soft, floral and perfumed throughout. Sweet red cherry, mint and wild flowers are all knit together in a delicate lifted wine. Drink this fragrant, juicy Zinfandel over the next few years. (AG)" (10/2015) K&L Notes: This Zinfandel is fresh, lively and very balanced. Zesty aromas lead to raspberry, black cherry, sweet anise, and a dash of black pepper.
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "Spot on in its varietal precision and a nicely managed wine in every respect, Dashe's appellation bottling from the Dry Creek Valley is everything that well-made Zinfandel should be. There are others that can claim more potency and power just as there are some that are deeper and more complex, but this one gets the nod for its constancy, class and cohesion, and it is a flavorful, but never-too-pushy rendition that will drink splendidly with an especially wide range of foods over the next four or five years." (9/2016) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valle ...Read More »
Gardienne des Vignes is focused on old-vine Zinfandel and Petite Sirah vineyards.
According to Bruce Neyers: "Markus Bokisch and I met in 1990 when he came to work as a viticulturist at Joseph Phelps Vineyards. He was a recent UC Davis graduate, and seemed immensely talented even then. Over the short time we worked together, I grew increasingly impressed with him. He left Phelps soon after I did, and moved to Spain to learn more about growing grapes and making wine. Our paths crossed again in 2005 when he began a vineyard management company in Lodi, and we started to buy grapes from two of his vineyards in the Sierra foothill AVAs of ... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Brilliant strawberry and raspberry aromas, bright and effusive fruit flavors, and a sense of freshness and purity make this wine from one of El Dorado County's oldest wineries a pleasure to drink. It's full bodied, has a smooth texture, mild tannins and a lingering finish. (JG)" (12/2015)
Wine Enthusiast: "Bold and nicely astringent, this wine is full bodied, rich in flavor and even richer in texture due to a thick layer of fine tannins. Built almost like a Cabernet but with brighter fruit flavors, the wine is attractively dry and meant to be enjoyed with something rich like a roast or steak." (8/2016) K&L Notes: From the winery: "A deep garnet color, with aromas of cedar, medium bodied with hints of rasberries. This isn’t your big jammy, smoky style, this is far more finessed and subtle. Mildly fruit forward and food friendly."
Connoisseurs Guide: "Marked more by youthful freshness and less by generosity and ripeness but still on the berryish varietal track, this wine shows a bit of glyceriny roundness early on then narrows and becomes tighter and drier as it crosses the palate. While its slight shortfall of extract allows its nominal acidity to stand out, it is never so stiff or tart as to be unappealing, and its essential firmness will hold it in good stead with food." (1/2016)
A popular tourist stop in the Dry Creek Valley due to its wine caves and highly-touted zinfandels, Bella champions the best that Sonoma County has to offer.
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Michael David Winery also scores impressively with their moderately priced Zinfandels. The 2013 Zinfandel Earthquake is 100% Zinfandel, a 30,000-case cuvée aged in American oak. It is no wimpy Zinfandel at 15.5% alcohol, but is full-bodied, offering briary, peppery, meaty and herbal black fruits and some red fruits. The wine is pure, deep, fleshy, and ideal for drinking over the next 3-4 years. Year in year out, this is one of the best value wineries in the entire world. Working from grape sources in Lodi, they offer an assortment of wines, but their to ...Read More »
For the last decade, Cline has farmed naturally and sustainably, avoiding chemical pesticides and fertilizers while using cover crops, sheep and other natural farming methods to maintain healthy vineyards. Sourced primarily from Cline's oldest Zinfandel vineyards in Oakley, which were planted over 100 years ago.
A new winery with founders who are by no means newbies to the wine game, Birichino is the result of a collaboration between Alex Krause and John Locke. The duo sources fruit from vineyards that feature own-rooted vines and vinify the grapes with minimal intervention.
Wine Spectator: "Sleek, if a bit tightly wound, with black cherry and toasted spice aromas, leading to firm flavors of blackberry, licorice and mineral. Best from 2016 through 2022." (6/2015)
Inventory: Redwood City
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "**Editor's Choice** Somehow this wine is bold, full bodied and superripe—yet balanced, sleek and structured. Tart, vibrant fruit aromas like raspberry and cranberry are followed by rich, almost sweet strawberry and red cherry flavors. A layer of fine tannins adds grip to the mouthfeel, and firm acidity keeps everything from being heavy. (JG)" (12/2015) Wine Spectator: "Tart and zesty, with notes of red plum, tomato leaf and smoky spice. Drink now through 2020. 2,200 cases made. (TF) Web Only-2016"
Wine Enthusiast: "Try this rare wine from a vineyard planted in the 1880s. Aromas like maple syrup and vanilla, and flavors like raspberry and cherry jam make this wine seem sweet and feel soft as a pillow, but understand that the alcohol level is almost high enough for a Port." (8/2016) K&L Notes: It's worth pointing out that Rock Wall Wine Company is run by famed Zinmeister Kent Rosenblum with his daughter, Shauna. Rosenblum sold off the Alameda winery that bears his name, but he has not stopped making Zinfandel from hundred-year-old vineyards tucked into the obscure corners of Cali... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "A tang of black cherry and citrus elevates the palate of this light-bodied wine, which is soft and well integrated in terms of oak and tannin. With 10% Petite Sirah and 8% Carignane, it's strong in leather and black pepper, with a lean, juicy finish." (6/2016)
Jeff Runquist banked 19 years making wine in California before opening his own winery. During that time, he developed close relationships with growers and is now able to source first-rate fruit for his own wines. His style is fruit-forward and velvety, and the Z-Massoni Zinfandel is no exception. Sourced from old vines and aged for 14 months in small barrels, it hums with rich flavors of black fruits, hazelnuts, and cocoa.
Fruit was destemmed and hand-sorted before fermentation took place over 20 days in stainless steel. The wine was then aged for 12 months in neutral French barriques. From the winery: "Fresh ripe berries, smoke, brown spice, dark chocolate on the nose. Flavors of fig paste, plum, mint, and licorice followed by a bright, lush and balanced finish."
Inventory: San Francisco
Up-and-coming winemaker Andrew Jones has been on a roll the past few years, turning out some incredible wines for his Field Recordings label. The Old Potrero vineyard, although planted in the early 1990s, is head-trained and dry-farmed with 12x12 spacing, according to the winery.
A 100% Zinfandel bottling is somewhat unusual in this day and age when many producers prop up the red-fruited Zinfandel profile with the darker fruit and brawny structure of Petite Sirah. If blended haphazardly and without respect to the Zin, we can forget what Zin is actually supposed to taste like. This bottling from Joel Gott is 100% Zinfandel sourced from Mendocino, Sonoma, Lake County, Amador, and Lodi. It is a true snapshot of California varietal expression. The wine was aged in 25% new American oak before bottling. From the producer: "The 2013 Cal... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
Part of the HRW (Hendry Ranch Winery) Series, this Zinfandel comes from the family's Napa Valley vineyard. From the winemaker: "Warm, dusty pepper and berry aromas. Structured, with plenty of tannins for medium to heavy foods. Medium-bodied, with bittersweet cacao, spice and blueberry on the palate. Plenty of structure. Sealed with a screw-cap closure, but benefits from airing or decanting, opening up the last bits of fruit and taking the edge off the tannins."