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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
92-94 points Antonio Galloni: "Ridge's 2013 Zinfandel Geyserville is deep, rich and explosive. A much darker wine than the 2012, the 2013 hits the palate with masses of dark red/black fruit followed by iron, smoke and savory herbs. The intensity of fruit nearly covers the tannins that lurk beneath. There is lot to look forward to in this highly promising, engaging Geyserville. The blend is 73% Zinfandel, 17% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, 1% Alicante Bouschet and 1% Mataro (Mourvèdre) (AG)" (7/2014)93 points Connoisseurs Guide: "Taking its accustomed place near the head of this year’s class, Ridge’s classic field blend ...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 »
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 »
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 »
95 points Wine & Spirits: "The vines that grew this supremely elegant wine were planted in 1999 on the red volcanic loam of a hillside and benchland vineyard in the southeast corner of Alexander Valley. Douglas and Nancy Ousterhout purchased the vineyard in 2009 and hired a pinot noir winemaker, Micah Wirth of Joseph Jewel, to create this silky, delicate zin. It’s as bright as a red cherry fresh off the tree, feeling almost weightless on the palate. As the wine takes on air, the tannins provide an edgy minerality that focuses and amplifies the fruit into a sunny, ruby-red laser be ...Read More »
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 »
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."
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 »
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 »
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 »
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)
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 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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
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.
Inventory: Redwood City
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 »
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."
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 »
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 »
94 points Wine Spectator: "Gushes with rich and powerful fruit, offering aromas of wild berry, nutmeg and cinnamon, and complex flavors of cherry pie, white pepper and licorice. A great package. Drink now through 2023." (12/2014)90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The dark ruby-hued, full-bodied 2012 Zinfandel Home Ranch Vineyard offers briery, black raspberry, mulberry and black cherry fruit intertwined with earth, pepper and spice. This pedal-to-the-metal beauty should be consumed over the next 3-4 years. It is a classic Seghesia Zin." (12/2014)
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."
One of the best known and loved Zinfandels produced by Biale Vineyards, this blockbuster red delivers big flavor and Oak Knoll-derived spice. Not for the faint of heart but perfect for the Zinfandel lover!
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."
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)
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "It’s young and it’s deep; it’s nicely focused on bright blackberry fruit and it’s tight but promising—and that is just in its mid-volume aromas. The tight aspect comes doubly into play in the mouth where tannin and acidity combine to add coarse, grabby impressions that interrupt the wine’s fairly likeable fruit and consign the wine to the cellar. Time is absolutely of the essence here, and given the remarkable Storybook Mountain track record with its Zins, we have nothing but full confidence in this one’s ability to reach great heights." (5/2015) K&L Notes: Storybook... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "A zesty little Zin, with just enough dried cherry, plum, toasty herb and spice flavors to keep this fun and interesting. Drink now through 2018." (6/2014)
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 »
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Deep ruby. A complex, spice-tinged bouquet evokes ripe cherry and boysenberry, with smoke and licorice nuances in the background. Fleshy and supple in texture, offering concentrated cherry compote and floral pastille flavors plus a suggestion of fruitcake. Takes a darker turn on the sweet, expansive finish, which features dusty tannins and lingering smokiness. I like the blend of power and energy here." (5/2014)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Moving to the reds, the 2012 Zinfandel Foxglove comes from Paso Robles and offers plenty of classic Zin bramble, briar and sweet kirsch to go with a medium-bodied, forward and easy-drinking feel. It’s another wine deserving a multiple bottle purchase. This is another solid lineup of superb values by the team at Varner." (8/2014) K&L Notes: Part of the Varner brothers range of wine (which also includes Varner and Neely), Foxglove is their "negociant" label. Their 2012 Zin includes a touch of Peite Sirah for added depth and structure, resulting in yet another wine tha... 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.
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 »
Connoisseurs Guide: "Quiet, yet noticeable elements of earth and bark sit just to the side in both the nominally fruity aromas and flavors of this one, and its varietal themes of dark berries are driven a bit sideways by their presence. The wine gets a little grippy and gruff at the finish, but it does not empty out and hangs on to a good sense of fruit to the end." (1/2015)
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 »
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: From the winery: "Superb raspberry, huckleberry aromas followed by taut, refined, seductive flavors of red fruit compote layered with spice and a sensuous mouth-feel that make... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "A zesty red, modest in scale, with enough black cherry, spice and toasted herb flavors to stay interesting. Drink now through 2018." (6/2014) K&L Notes: With the aim of creating a "rowdy and rustic" Zin to drink by the campfire, Four Vines blends 78% Paso Robles old vine Zinfandel with Petite Sirah, Grenache, Primitivo and other red varietals, aging it in American and Hungarian oak for 14 months.
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid ruby. Intense red and dark berry aromas are lifted by peppery spice and rose accents, with a bright mineral overtone adding energy. Fresh, incisive and floral on the palate, offering blackberry and bitter cherry flavors that coat the palate and pick up a subtle, refreshingly bitter orange marmalade quality. Sweeter on the chewy finish, leaving behind dark berry and licorice notes." (6/2014)
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Here is a keenly fruity, exceptionally well-defined look at all of the things we like in a good Zinfandel, and, while it may not be the deepest or most complex example to be found, its precise themes of optimally ripened blackberries, its deftly placed oak and its fine sense of balance add up to a winning effort. It is full-bodied but never once drags its feet, and its integral acidity brings an easy sensation of brightness. It will age famously for upwards of five or six years by virtue of its exemplary proportion, but those for whom patience ...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 »
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 »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Zinfandel Late Harvest has 9.5 grams of residual sugar and smells somewhat like an Amarone. Usually I enjoy these Late Harvest Zins after they have some age on them, but this 2012 offers good fresh fruit and purity. Drink it over the next decade. (RP)" (12/2013) K&L Notes: According to Robert Parker: "This boutique producer has one of the more innovative back labels where you can peel off the name and appellation of the wine, much like a postage stamp. I am surprised more wineries haven’t utilized this creative technology. In any event, it’s what’s in the bo... Read More »