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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Rich, spicy aromas and flavors of black cherry and cedar make this fullbodied wine from one of the longest-running wineries in California’s Sierra Foothills hard to resist. It has a feeling of breadth and depth on the palate alongside lush layers of tasty fruit. Editors’ Choice" (3/2017) K&L Notes: From one of the few remaining blocks of pre-prohibition era Zinfandel on the Estate, this ridge top vineyard of cobbly loam gives a full-bodied wine of great depth, structure and character. From dry farmed sustainably grown vines, the "Rocky Top" offers notes of summer be... Read More »
Vinous: "The 2014 Three Valleys, Ridge's entry-level Zinfandel-based red, is a delicious, value-priced red to drink young, while the fruit remains vibrant. Sweet floral notes and a burst of spiciness round out the 2014 edition. This is an absolutely stellar set of wines from Ridge...Zinfandel fans will find much to like in the 2014s, a vintage that produced super-elegant wines. Of course, the biggest news at Ridge is Paul Draper's retirement, but then again, that has been in the works for so long that it was hardly a surprise when it was formally announced earlie ...Read More »
From the second label of Sobon estates comes Shenandoah Vineyards' full-bodied, full-fledged Amador-style Zinfandel. Its perfume hints at blackberries, cherries and cocoa while the mild tannins, elegant structure and strong fruit flavors make this a satisfying pairing for meats and cheeses.
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 »
We couldn't be more excited to bring you another installment in what hopefully will turn out to be a long, fruitful project with wineries from around the United States, working with us directly to make exclusive bottlings for our customers. The Domestic team here at K&L has spent a great deal of time kicking around the idea of approaching wineries or winemakers we love, and asking them to work with us to create exclusive wines to our specifications. Furthermore we wanted to not only promote these outstanding wines, but the wineries behind them (rather th... Read More »
94 points Vinous: "The 2014 Lytton Springs is another absolutely gorgeous wine...there appears to be plenty of complexity and depth hiding behind the acidity and tannin. Far from an easygoing Zinfandel, the 2014 Lytton is a wine to buy and cellar for at least a handful of years. The wine's richness, persistence and vertical intensity all lead me to believe it will be special in time. Black cherry, pomegranate, mint and sweet spices meld into the resonant finish. A kick of tannin from the Petite adds personality, something the 2014 has in spades. This is an absolutely ste ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The deep purple colored Zinfandel Pagani Ranch is made in a medium to full-bodied, incredibly elegant and seamless style. The blend is 80% Zinfandel, 17% Alicante Bouschet and the balance Petite Sirah, aged all in American oak, and it boasts fabulous notes of plums, black raspberries, chocolate, spice and potpourri. It’s not a massive wine, but it glides across the palate, has ripe, sweet tannin and integrated acidity. Most importantly, it’s a joy to drink. (JD)" (10/2016) 92 points Vinous: "The 2014 Pagani Ranch is the most immediate and obvious of the 2014 Zinfandels I tas ...Read More »
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Zinfandel Cortina, which comes from their lowest yielding, dry farmed vineyards, exhibits perhaps the deepest level of fruit intensity, with loads of raspberries, black cherries, some spice, a full-bodied earthiness, moderately high alcohol (as all of these do) at 14.8%, but a long, layered finish. This is probably one of my favorites of this grouping. (RP)" (3/2016) 94 points Wine Spectator: "*Highly Recommended* This captures such a distinct sense of place it almost smells like Dry Creek Valley. Briary raspberry and smoky cinnamon aromas lead to complex, layered flavors o ...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)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Zinfandel is a brambly, spice, raspberry and blackberry-scented effort that has medium-bodied richness, an upfront, sexy texture and no hard edges. Drink this balanced, incredibly enjoyable Zinfandel over the coming couple of years. Readers looking for killer values need look no further than this Foxglove releases from Jim and Bob Varner." (10/2016) Vinous: "The 2014 Zinfandel is another delicious, value-priced red from the Varner brothers. Pinot-influenced aromatics meld into a core of sweet red berry fruit. Rich, deep and luscious in a fruit-driven styl ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* 'Wow' is the first word that comes to mind when tasting this superconcentrated and immensely fruity wine. It practically overwhelms the nose and the palate with ripe, jammy boysenberry and blackberry, sprinkled with licorice and black-pepper nuances that add attractive complexity. It's a big wine all the way, but not extreme in alcohol. (JG)" (3/2017) 91 points Vinous: "One of the more striking wines in this range, the 2014 Zinfandel Old Vine is absolutely gorgeous. Dark cherry, plum, sweet tobacco, menthol, licorice and spices hit the palate as this flamb ...Read More »
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)
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Zinfandel Estate is primarily Zinfandel, but there are other grapes in this mixed black field blend, including Peloursin, Négrette, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Carignan. This is a sensational Zinfandel, with an explosive nose of pepper, raw meat, blackberry, black raspberry and cherry. Deep, chewy and dense, it finishes at 14.8% natural alcohol... The owners of the well-known Marietta Cellars, the Bilbro family, have taken this once-moribund producer, Limerick Lane, and resurrected it to impressive heights of quality. This estate always had some fab ...Read More »
91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* Bright, buoyant, intensely fruity and absolutely unwavering in its keen varietal focus, this impressively extracted effort is long on substance and stuffing yet is very well-structured for the ample and very ripe wine that it is. It is supple to start and keeps heat nicely in check while showing a good bit of grippy, young back-palate tannins, and, if not inordinately rough at the finish, it is a Zinfandel that fully deserves age. It is so deep in fruit that it is certain to tempt hasty drinking, but this is serious wine to cellar away for an ...Read More »
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 »
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 »
92-94 points Vinous: "(96% Zinfandel, 4% Carignane) The 2014 Zinfandel Papera Ranch is exuberant, rich and extroverted to the core. Sweet dark cherry, plum, mint, tobacco, cedar, menthol and spices flesh out in a hugely appealing wine endowed with real depth and intensity. The finish is perhaps a bit chunky, but there is so much to like that I can look past that slightly rustic part of the wine's personality. This historic Russian River site was planted in 1934. The blend of 96% Zinfandel and 4% Carignane is unusually high for mixed blacks vineyards planted during this period ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Jammed with toasty oak and black pepper notes, this is backed up by baked cherry, grilled anise and toffee flavors. Drink now through 2022. (TF)" (6/2016)
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "From a vineyard planted in 1912, with subsequent plantings in the 1970s and 1980s, the 2013 Zinfandel Old & Mature Vines was aged totally in French oak. A juicy, outrageously delicious Zinfandel, with full-bodied terrific black raspberry and black cherry fruit, pepper, earth and underbrush. Its opulence and lusciousness are pure hedonism at its best. Moreover, the alcohol is relatively tame by Zinfandel standards these days coming in at 14.5%. This should drink nicely for another 7-8 years. It was good to see veteran winemaker and vineyard owner Fred Sc ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
94 points Wine & Spirits: "John Williams is on a roll, following his exceptional 2013 Zinfandel with an equally delicious 2014. He dry-farms his 40-year-old vines, harvesting them at the same time as his Petite sirah so he can co-ferment the fruit. That brings the tannins together in a refreshing, gentle structure that lifts the fruit flavors, presenting them as perfectly ripe forest berries. The tannins feel plush, even as they carry a note of black-peppercorn spice and manzanita. This is a beautiful Napa Valley red that happens to speak with an accent of zin." (8/2016) K&L Notes: When it com... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The two Zinfandels among the current releases include the 2014 Zinfandel Paso Robles, which comes from the Benito Dusi Ranch. One hundred percent Zinfandel tipping the scales at 14.4%, this straightforward, dark ruby-colored Zinfandel offers briary, spicy, easygoing strawberry and black cherry fruit. It is medium-bodied, cleanly made, and best drunk over the next 4-5 years. (RP)" (8/2016) Wine Spectator: "Sleek and focused, offering a gentle complexity. Aromas of raspberry and dill lead to zesty flavors of cherry, licorice and smoky white pepper. Drink now through 2024. 4, ...Read More »
The Green & Red Vineyard, which overlooks Napa County's Chiles Valley, is notable for its iron-rich red soils veined with slick green serpentine. Originally planted to vine back in the 1890s, these vines were planted starting in 1972. The Chiles Mill estate vineyard ranges in elevation from 1,000-1,700 feet above sea level. This hillside fruit from the vineyard's red soils makes for a wine full of black pepper spice, rose petal, licorice and dark berry notes. The wine was aged for 14 months in a combination of 20% new American oak, used American oak and ... 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 »
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)
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 Wine & Spirits: "Joel Peterson makes this wine from a vineyard on Zinfandel Lane in St. Helena. In 2013, Dickerson is a fresh, open zin, yielding generous fruit in a cascade of blackberry, strawberry and red currant flavors. The texture is soft and clean if you open it now; the tannins gain prominence as it develops with air, the structure feeling harder, the fruit less accessible. Zinfandel is often best immediately on release, or more than ten years from the vintage, and this is a wine to go short or long; forget about it in the mid-term." (2/2016) 90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* With sugges ...Read More »
The full name of this winery is actually "Fritz Underground Winery," but in this case "underground" is quite literal. The winery, established in the late 1970s, is built into the side of a hill in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley, taking advantage of the earth's natural cooling abilities as well as gravity (a natural spring tucked in a redwood grove provides irrigation water). Above ground, the folks at Fritz are growing some great fruit. The grapes for this Zin come from 30-year-old vines. Always a classic Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, perfect for early s... 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.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Made from fruit grown across the valley, including Chiles Valley and Calistoga, this wine also includes 14% Petite Sirah and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is above all savory and relatively restrained, elegant in red fruit, soft mellow tannin and balanced acidity, with a lingering taste of wild blueberry." (10/2016)
90 points Wine & Spirits: "From nine acres of benchland soil west of the town of Napa, these blocks were planted to clone 2 zinfandel in 1975 and 1995. Aged for 15 months in French oak, this has the richness of a full-bodied claret, supple, heady and black. The dark fruitiness of cloud-ear mushrooms combines with a touch of volatility in the finish, a brisk, earthy zin to decant for braised lamb." (2/2015) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This opens with herbaceous dollops of thyme and fresh-dug earth and evolves slowly in the glass, revealing juicy black plum and berry. Medium in weight and density, it's soft and ...Read More »
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The other two cuvées include the 2014 Disciples Proprietary Blend Composition, which is made from 93% Zinfandel and 7% Petite Sirah. This is a larger cuvée of 1,400 cases that tips the scales at 15.7% alcohol. The Zinfandel plantings date from the 1880s and were better known as the source for Biale’s Old Crane Zinfandel. This wine displays spicy, peppery steak tartare, roast Provençal herbs, and briary black cherry and blackberry fruit. It has terrific body, length, richness and viscosity. It is a sensational Zinfandel to drink over the next 5-7 years. ...Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Jammy and ripe, this retains a sense of balance and focus, with black cherry and caramel aromas and soft, zesty flavors of blackberry and spice. For those who like their Zins big. (TF)" (6/2014)
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This serious and concentrated wine has plenty of ripe fruit aromas and flavors, with a smooth texture, and lingering fruitiness on the finish. It resembles black plums and cloves in flavor, and has excellent balance and depth." (12/2015) Wine Spectator: "Offers zesty flavors of bright cherry, smoky herb and lots of cracked pepper. Packs in a lot of character. Drink now through 2018. 11,475 cases made." (6/2015)
Inventory: Redwood City
It's nice to have a Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zin in handy half-bottle format--not a late harvest Zin (more often seen in 375ml), this eminently totable wine is perfectly sized for a hike and a picnic. Still made in Oakland, California from Dry Creek Valley grapes, this blend of vineyards has earned some good points in recent vintages, too, with the 2014 scoring 90 in both Connoisseurs Guide and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.
92 points Wine Spectator: "Bold and rich, with a lively, structured core, plus black raspberry and pepper aromas, and ripe, zesty black cherry and sweet black licorice flavors. Drink now through 2026." (1/2017) K&L Notes: This new project from Ehren Jordan, the mastermind behind such labels as Turley, Neyers and Failla, is dedicated to old-vine, Sonoma County Zinfandel. The first vintage comprises a touch of Petite Sirah to round out the blend, showing classic fruity notes of blueberry, raspberry and spices.
94 points Wine Spectator: "Impressive, with depth and a distinctive personality. Plump blackberry and licorice aromas lead to refined yet concentrated flavors of smoky cracked pepper, dark Asian spices and sage. Approachable now but will bloom in the cellar. Drink now through 2030." (11/2016)
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star & 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 Zinfan ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The proprietary red wine, the 2014 Geyserville from Alexander Valley is a big boy at 14.6% alcohol. Made from a blend of 60% Zinfandel, 24% Carignan, 12% Petite Sirah and the rest Mourvèdre, this is a big-time winner in 2014, with copious quantities of juicy blackberry and black cherry fruit, some wood spice and loamy soil undertones. Full-bodied, fleshy and seductive, the wine is clean, pure, textured, and offers sensational drinking now and over the next 7-8 years. (RP)" (8/2016) 93 points Vinous: "The 2014 Zinfandel Geyserville is just as beautiful from bottle as it was f ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard has a brooding, primordial character with a dark ruby/plum/purple color, forest floor, pepper, meat, herbs, and red and black fruits. It is elegant, medium to full-bodied, and by no means over-extracted or too rich. A nice take on Zinfandel from this famous source, it should drink well for 4-5 years. (RP)" (3/2016)
A classic old vine Russian River Valley Zinfandel made from a vineyard planted in the early 1920s, which would have made the vines just about "old vine" 45 years later when Joe Swan made his first vintage--of Zinfandel. The winery's tasting note for the 2012: "Blackberry, white pepper floral hints, bit of lushness. Complex balanced, elegant. A classic old style zinfandel made with new age sensibilities. And, it is under 13% alcohol!"
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "From vines averaging 95 years old, this is an impressive effort, in balance between savory, sultry overtones of peppercorn and espresso and a riper, juicier core of blackberry. Supportive acidity provides a freshness to the wine, which offers plenty of length and breadth on the finish." (7/2016) 90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Optimally ripened, solidly fruited and hitting the varietal mark smartly, Dry Creek Vineyard's Old Vine bottling does a fine job of being both rich and lively at one and the same time. It is deep and well-filled without a whit of heaviness, and, while su ...Read More »
94 points Wine & Spirits: "If you were to come back as a vine, Jerry Seps’s steep hillside vineyard would be a pretty tempting place to put down roots. His vineyard faces north toward Mount St. Helena and east toward the Palisades—not a house or a road in sight, only trees, meadows and craggy rocks left by the volcano. Ideally, you’d come back as a Zinfandel vine. The vineyard’s cool morning sun and volcanic soils grow Zin with racy energy, a sensation that’s captured beautifully in this 2013. With air, the wine transforms all of its blueberry flavor, peachy red fruit and youthful ...Read More »
About the producer: "Unti Vineyards is a small, family-owned and operated winery specializing in Mediterranean varietal wines with vineyard personality. The winery, established in 1997, produces small lots of estate grown Barbera, Grenache, Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Syrah and Zinfandel. We also produce a dry Rose from Grenache and Mourvedre and a White Blend of Vermentino, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul. We use artisan wine making methods to enhance and support our ability to make wines with a sense of place-such as fermenting and aging 45 to 60 different s... Read More »
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.
95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Zinfandel Hartford Vineyard comes from head-trained vines planted over 100 years ago, and they are incredibly low-yielding. The wine was aged in 100% French oak, of which 50% is new, and like all these wines, was bottled unfined and unfiltered. This is a big wine at 15.2% natural alcohol, but there’s not a bit of heat to it. Its flamboyant, dramatic aromatics consist of black fruits, red fruits, licorice, roasted herbs, and smoked game. The wine has fabulous fruit on the attack, is full-bodied, and the red and black fruit combo follows through t ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Coming from the Russian River Valley, the 2014 Zinfandel Ponzo Vineyards (96% Zinfandel and 4% Petite Sirah) is another sexy, seamless release from the team at Ridge that offers classic aromatics (bramble, plums, spice and dried flowers), medium-bodied richness and a clean, lengthy finish. Drink it over the coming 5-7 years. (JD)" (10/2016) Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* As has been the case with past Ponzo bottlings, this wine drifts away from the Ridge tendency toward complexity and offers up a distinctly clearer view of Zinfandel berries and zestiness. It is clean, polishe ...Read More »
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."