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K&L Staff Recommendations
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Deep, clean-as-can-be, ripe-berry fruit is teamed with a trim bit of sweet oak in the very well-focused aromas and incisively varietal flavors of this nicely made youngster, and the wine earns higher marks yet for its exemplary structure and balance. It is at once zesty and polished with great fruity precision, and its fine fit and finish ensure that it will grow for many years." (9/2014)90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Proprietary Red Three Valleys is composed of 82% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah and the rest Carignan and Alicante Bouchet. This sexy wine (14.2% natural ...Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "* Cellar Selection * Though already four years old, this blend of 77% Zinfandel and 23% Petite Sirah shows lots of promise for a long-lasting wine. Complicated aromas of tobacco and ripe boysenberries become sagebrush herbs on the palate, bolstered by blueberry and elderberry fruits. The tannic grip is still strong, so drink 2018–2028." (4/2015) K&L Notes: This is an exciting new Project from Steve McClean whose family has been greatly successful with growing and making wine from their estate Norman Vineyards in Paso Robles.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This terrific Zin brings classic varietal character to the table, with a full body, robust alcohol, dryness and intensely concentrated flavors of blackberry, black currant, dark chocolate, Chinese plum sauce and black pepper. Showing a mastery of the art of blending, its grapes come from north to south in the valley, Calistoga to Atlas Peak and multiple appellations in between. This is one of the greatest Zinfandel values in recent memory." (5/2014) K&L Notes: Krutz Family Cellars souced their Magnolia Series Zinfandel from across Napa Valley and it... Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "A lively, zesty red that offers bright cherry and tarragon aromas and sleekly layered flavors of briary raspberry, nutmeg and fresh-cracked black pepper. Drink now through 2021." (12/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Zinfandel Sonoma is an exuberant, richly fruity, medium-bodied effort displaying plenty of raspberry, blueberry and cherry fruit, 14.8% natural alcohol, and a lusty personality. It should drink well for several years." (12/2014) K&L Notes: Seghesio blends Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel into the Sonoma County, with loads of dark fruit supported by brambly fla... Read More »
This is the second label for Amador County's Sobon Estate, and always a K&L fave for affordable, fruit-filled and balanced Zin. Their 2012 "Special Reserve" release adds a small amount of Syrah and Grenache, and the whole lot is aged in small barrels for nine months. Winemaker notes: "The wine is full bodied and only moderately tannic with beautiful structure and strong fruit. The flavors are complex, and the finish is long and satisfying. This wine is extremely versatile, light enough to accompany any lunch fare, yet a perfect companion to pastas, roast... Read More »
93 points Connoisseurs Guide: "Taking its accustomed place near the head of this year’s class, Ridge’s classic field blend is once again a wine of great depth and range, and one that comes with the demand for aging. It is fully ripe but never close to being too much and is loaded with deep, dark berry fruit, and it already shows highlights of dried flowers and sweet spice that presage increased complexity to come. It is weighty but impeccably balanced and quite long at the finish, and, given Geyserville bottlings’ stellar track record for aging, this one can be held with complete conf ...Read More »
93 points Wine & Spirits: "Brian Mahoney drew on four vineyards to make this delicious zin, the oldest, Saitone, planted in the 1890s and the youngest, BCD, planted in the 1990s; he raised the wine almost exclusively in older barrels. It’s cool and fragrant, firm yet silky, the flavors quiet but convincing, suggesting rose, dried strawberry and pink peppercorn. Its slow-building intensity calls for a plate of prosciutto." (12/2014) K&L Notes: From the winery: "The wine opens aromatically with enticing notes full of boysenberry and blackberry accentuated with hints of dust and violet. Dark red,... Read More »
With just over 2500 cases made of this delightful red, the winery notes that this is "a zesty blend from our three mountain vineyards at 1000 to 1700 ft overlooking Chiles Canyon. Dark cherry and raspberry flavors with tinges of bay leaf and clove. Accompanies wood grilled vegetables and marbled meats."
92 points Wine Spectator: "Densely structured and full of character, offering bold cherry and licorice aromas that lead to layered flavors of savory plum, grilled herb and Asian spice. The finish is framed by ripe but big tannins. Best from 2016 through 2022." (6/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 Zinfandel Old Vine, made from a collection of their numerous resources for old vine Zinfandel, reveals an evolved dark ruby color along with an attractive bouquet of plum sauce, raspberry jam and a hint of strawberry. Its front end-loaded style turns slightly compact and abrupt, but it is an attractive, easy- ...Read More »
From the winery: "Frank Family Vineyard’s 2012 Napa Valley Zinfandel is bright scarlet in color and possesses aromas of rhubarb, licorice, graphite, and white pepper. On the palate, flavors of sweet plumb, cherries and vanilla meld with hints of tarragon. The wine is balanced with silky tannins, earthiness and a kick of spice."
96 points Wine & Spirits: "The scent of this wine is worth the price of admission, a combination of sage, sun and wet rock, of forest pines and dark red fruit. It reminded Wolfgang Weber, one of our panelists, of hiking in the North Coast, "in the morning, when the sun burns off the dew and picks up the scents of plant resins." The fragrance may round the wine in the Napa Valley hills, but the texture is pure benchland, about as silky as a wine can be...a deliciously plump Zinfandel, the kind of dynamic red wine that proves Napa Valley's greatness." (2/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "High alcohol gives this ...Read More »
91 points Wine Spectator: "A zesty red, with briary cherry and sage aromas that lead to lively and layered flavors of wild berry, anise and smoky cracked pepper. Drink now through 2021." (1/2015)90 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel is once again fabulous and one of the very best wines readers will find in its price range. Rich, powerful and explosive, the 2013 hits the palate with an array of dark red stone fruits, tobacco, menthol and licorice. The Old Vine Zinfandel comes from a smattering of sites, most of them in Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley and the Russian River Valley. As always, t ...Read More »
Nalle humerously notes, "Using archaic Bordeaux nomenclature gives us pleasure in naming this light red. Your pleasure will come from the unmistakable Dry Creek aromatics and flavors of blackberry, red licorice and milk chocolate with a crisp finish. A two vineyard blend of 65% Henderlong Nalle and 35% Bernier-Sibary. 90% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignane from vines averaging 60 years old. Barrel aged 11 months in French oak. Perfect as a summertime red or anytime with English royalty."
90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Opaque ruby. Ripe cherry and black raspberry aromas are complicated by notes of licorice, cola and smoky herbs. A sexy floral nuance comes up with air, adding lift to weighty berry and espresso flavors. Takes a brighter turn on the long, sappy finish, featuring raspberry compote and floral pastille qualities." (5/2014) Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* This may be the ripest of the new Ravenswood lot, but it does not go the way of chocolaty heaviness, and it delivers a fair bit of bright, slightly raspberry-like fruit. It is fleshy, big-bodied and a bit hot in the bargain, and i ...Read More »
We've been big fans of Gus Gamba's old vine estate Zinfandel, and the now near-cult status Moratto (Starr Road) Vineyard old vine Zin, for years. "Family Ranches" is sourced with the help of a few neighboring vineyards in this slightly elevated, well-drained area that's been a "sweet spot" for Russian River Valley Zinfandel for over a century. Aged in American oak, it's 15.9 abv but hardly showing it through supple, rich layers of toasty cocoa and brambleberry fruit.
Gardienne des Vignes is focused on old-vine Zinfandel and Petite Sirah vineyards. The Kirschnenmann vineyard was planted in 1915 to 95% Zinfandel and a remaining field blend of Carignan, Mondeuse, and Counoise. This vineyard is owned by Turley winemaker Tegan Passalacqua and very few wineries outside of Turley get access to the fruit from this site that is approaching its centenary.
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "From Dry Creek Valley, the 2012 Zinfandel Estate is composed of 76% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah, and the rest Barbera and a dollop of Syrah. This wine was aged in French oak barrels (20% new) for eleven months. Another seductive, captivating effort from Unti, its deep ruby/purple color is followed by notes of blueberries, black raspberries and black cherries. This elegant, finesse-styled wine has no hard edges in its creamy, medium to full-bodied, opulent personality. A beauty that seamlessly integrates its grape varietals, oak, acidity and tannin, it ca ...Read More »
91 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Zinfandel Pagani Ranch wraps around the palate with silky, perfumed fruit and tons of varietal character. The late harvest in this cool, Sonoma Valley site yielded a ripe, intensely aromatic Zinfandel with notable persistence and sweet, suave tannins. As opposed to many other Ridge's other Sonoma wines, Pagani Ranch is predominantly Zinfandel, and that is exactly what comes through. (Antonio Galloni)" (7/2014)91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* Deeply fruited and juicy right from the first with a strong blackberry bias and a nice dollop of sympathetic oak running its le ...Read More »
89 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "This is a beautiful Zinfandel and the good news is there are over 30,000 cases of it. Coming from three of Gallo’s top Zinfandel vineyards, Stephani, Frei Ranch and Chiotti, most of them in Dry Creek, this blend of 98% Zinfandel and 2% Petite Sirah tips the scales at a lofty 14.8% natural alcohol. The wine has a deep ruby color, and a seductive, peppery, meaty, Côte du Rhône-type nose revealing lavender and roasted herb characteristics. No hard edges are found in this medium to full-bodied, fleshy, nicely concentrated Zinfandel. Drink over the next 2-3 y ...Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "Solidly fruity but never all that effusive and edging ever so slightly to dryness in character, the East Bench bottling shows the Ridge touch with regard to careful balance and structure yet holds little back as far as full ripeness is concerned. Its mix of dark berries and faintly peppery spice holds nicely through to an extended, mildly tannic finish, and it is sure to successfully age for three to five years even while doing useful service with flavorful, well-seasoned pork recipes early on." (5/2015)
90 points Robert Parker for the 2012 vintage: "The outstanding 2012 Zinfandel Saldo comes from selected parcels in Northern California. A blend of 85% Zinfandel and the rest Petite Sirah and Syrah, this classic Zinfandel saw 20% new oak. The wine exhibits lots of peppery spice along with hints of espresso, clove and barrique. Meaty raspberry and black cherry notes as well as a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel are also found in this beauty. Enjoy it over the next 4-5 years."
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editor's Choice* A blend of five vineyards, some of which go into single-vineyard designates, this is a well made, structured wine, offering layers of black cherry and subtle earth around soft, velvety tannins. The finish highlights black pepper spice with dark chocolate chaser." (2/2015) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright, full red. Black raspberry, spices and black pepper are lifted by a floral note on the nose. Nicely delineated flavors of dark berries, pepper and spices display good cut and intensity and a welcome touch of sweetness. A bit unforgiving today, finishing with fi ...Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "A potent zin with salty licorice and beetroot flavors, this is a direct, sanguine expression of Foothills minerality, with a floral edge that helps lift it out of the dirt. It’s an intense red for a flavorful cheese like Vella Dry Jack." (6/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "This is an amazing price for such quality, the wine resplendent in accessible red cherry and blackberry fruit and leathery tannins. Elegant and fairly restrained, it’s soft, structured and young, with room to develop further. Juicy and creamy, it delivers minty spice on the finish." (8/2014) Wine Spectator: "Sleek and crisp, with li ...Read More »
Poco á Poco is a small label from Luke Bass at Porter-Bass, who says: "Growing grapes and making wine is poco a poco. We live in a time when most things can be made, ordered, and consumed in a matter of days. The beauty of winegrowing is that we must live 'poco a poco.'"
Winemaker's note: "The 2012 Brandlin is medium dark ruby, with aromas that slowly reveal their charm. There is a character unique to the vineyard that sets itself apart from all others. I have worked with these grapes since 1991, and there is an elusive quality that always intrigues--red raspberry, rose petal, lavender, white pepper, clove, ginger, and anise. A gentle entry with good acidity sustains the palate and announces, wine can be both fun and delicious! 92% Zinfandel, 8% Charbono, Mourvèdre, Carignane."
Wine Enthusiast: "Tobacco and boysenberry scents make for a pleasing if not complex nose on this wine from the Santa Margarita Ranch area on the southern part of the appellation. There are a lot of tannins, with expected flavors of blackberry and cedar." (2/2015) K&L Notes: Ancient Peaks is a family-owned estate winery that produces wine from a single site, the Margarita Vineyard, which was first planted to vines by Franciscan missionaries in 1774. Situated in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, the Margarita Vineyard is the most southerly site within the Paso Robles appellation, where it... Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "* Good Value * Well-defined ripe-berry fruit is teamed with a nice mix of sweet oak and mildly briary spice in the nose here and carries forward as the dominant theme of the moderately deep, solidly varietal flavors that follow. The wine is just young enough to be a little rough at the edges, but service with food will help ease its way, as will a year or two of additional age." (5/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Juicy and soft, this Zin is all about exuberant red fruit and restrained tannins. Full-bodied it also offers elegance with complex highlights of leather, cedar and peppery ...Read More »
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 2012 Cal... Read More »
Bambino is made from young Zinfandel vines, plus others, planted in the style of the historic Old Hill Ranch vineyard that was planted in the 1880s. With 81% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, 4% Alicante Bouschet, 6% Syrah, Grenache and Carignane, it's patterned after the field blends of old.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*#68 On The Enthusiast 100 of 2014* This is Zinfandel at its richest. Boysenberry, vanilla and maple syrup aromas meet up with jammy fruit flavors that coat the mouth and linger on the finish. For all its fullness, it stays balanced and dry. It does not feel heavy in texture nor heavily oaked." (11/2014)
93 points Wine Spectator: "*Highly Recommended* Powerful and deeply structured, yet agile. A core of ripe tannins and lively acidity is wrapped in layers of currant, loamy cracked pepper and licorice flavors. An appealing note of dried sage shows on the firm, lingering finish. Best from 2017 through 2023." (6/2015)
Wine Enthusiast: "Daryl Groom is making these wines from Livermore Valley vineyards mostly and the wine is no doubt big in every way-15.6% alcohol with big tannins and big black, spicy fruit flavors hiding in there at first. It definitely needs time to open. And a giant, slathered-in-sauce kind of steak or other red meat." (11/2011)
93-95 points Antonio Galloni: "Another totally sexy, voluptuous wine, the 2012 Lytton Springs is endowed with serious power. A bit more structured than the Geyserville, the Lytton Springs stands out for its impeccable balance and class. Layers of dark red fruit build to a powerful finish laced with distinct Petite Sirah overtones." (7/2013)91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* Although its aromas do not jump from the glass, this carefully made Zin exhibits fine focus and very articulate varietal fruit that gains intensity and gradually takes center stage in the very well-composed flavors that follow. The wine i ...Read More »
91 points Wine & Spirits: "With its brambly fruit and peppery, earthen tannins, Quivira’s 2012 is spot-on Dry Creek zin. It feels concentrated yet fresh, lasting on a woody spice tone that seems to come from the fruit rather than oak—an impression of sap drawn through a vine toward the sun. Pour it at cellar temperature this summer with grilled pork chops." (10/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Opaque ruby. Ripe cherry and blackberry on the nose, with a subtle note of candied flowers in the background. Quite fleshy, with dense cherry and dark berry flavors enlivened by juicy acidity and a touch of peppery spic ...Read More »
The Benito Dusi Ranch in Paso Robles is the only vineyard that Ridge uses south of the San Francisco Bay area. Originally planted by Sylvester and Caterina Dusi in 1923 after emigrating from Italy, these old vines produce phenomenal fruit. With excellent Zinfandel-growing temperatures and rocky toils, the Dusi Vineyard wines are known for their juicy bramble fruit and velvety tannins. According to the winery, these are wines that "consistently show deep, juicy bramble fruit on the palate, along with notes of black cherry, gravelly earth, and rich chocola... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
This comes from one of California's great old Zin vineyards. Planted in 1890 on its own roots on the western edge of the California's delta, these vines still struggle and strive, without irrigation, to produce soulful California wines.
Inventory: Redwood City
91-93 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Zinfandel Kirschenmann Vineyard is floral, perfumed and quite pretty, with plenty of the aromatic lift that is typical of vineyards with a high percentage of sand. A final kick of sweetness adds nuance and texture on the silky, polished finish. Owners Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua have only been farming this site for a few years. It will be interesting to see what happens over the coming years, as the vineyard is farmed with a little more attention to detail. Dollops of Mondeuse Noire and Carignane round out the field blend." (12/2014)
Inventory: Redwood City
90 points Wine Spectator: "Appealing, with a rustic personality. Wild berry, underbrush and cracked pepper aromas combine with briary flavors of dried cherry, orange zest, bitter chocolate and licorice. The tannins sneak in on the finish. Zinfandel, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet and Pelrousin. Drink now through 2022. 732 cases made." (4/2015)
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Smoothly seductive in bright red-berry and pomegranate fruit, this young Zinfandel comes from mostly Dry Creek Valley vineyards. Rippling in baking spice and subtle vanilla oak, it’s a complete wine, with balanced acidity and mellowed tannins. Clean and long on the finish, it will complement rather than overpower a meal." (9/2014) Wine Spectator: "A zesty Zinfandel, with black cherry and smoky pepper aromas and appealing flavors of plum and anise." (9/2014) K&L Notes: Duckhorn Wine Company's excellent value Decoy Zinfandel is sourced mainly from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, and w... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Jammy and soft, with smoky black cherry aromas that lead to plum, spice and toasted herb flavors. Drink now through 2019. 4,300 cases made. –TF" (6/2014) K&L Notes: from the winery: "The grapes we choose for our Napa Valley Zinfandel are a mix of those off our estate vineyards and grapes from other select Napa Valley high quality, low-yielding vineyards. Dry-farmed for over 23 years, our 4.5 acre estate block consists of mature thirty-eight year old vines which typically give us around 2.5 tons/acre of beautiful hillside Zinfandel fruit. Interspersed among the hea... Read More »
91 points Wine & Spirits: "**Best Buy** John Williams co-ferments his Zin with Petite Sirah and a little Carignan, all of the vines farmed organically and dry grown. This 2012 is fresh with bosky cherry fruit and briskness to the structure that’s enhanced by plenty of air. Pour it into a decanter several hours before dinner, allowing the tight tannins to open up and the fruit to grow more fragrant." (10/2014) K&L Notes: Frog's Leap harvests their Zinfandel grapes at the peak of ripeness rather than allow them to become overripe or raisined. The result is an elegant and authentic expression of... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Woodenhead does Pinot Noir well, too, but here it shows its skill with Zinfandel, producing a structured, peppery and leathery version bright in briary blackberry and plum. With fierce minerality at its core, this is a distinctive Zin for those who prefer their wines savory and earthy." (8/2013) K&L Notes: Mendocino County is possibly the most overlooked source for Zinfandel in California, with long-established vineyards which deliver substantial and structured expressions. The Venturi family has owned this vineyard site since 1924 which sits just west of the Redwood... Read More »
From the winery: "Handpicked Zinfandel from low yielding, old-vine blocks is harvested at optimum maturity and rushed to the winery in refrigerated trucks. This 2012 vintage delivers classic Rombauer Zinfandel. The weight and dimension are immediately apparent by the dark purplish-ruby color. Ripe boysenberry, clove, black pepper and hints of raspberry aromas perfume from the glass. Plush and velvety flavors of dark berry fruits and vanilla flood the palate. A lengthy finish lingers for several minutes. Enjoy now through 2018."