A Sneak Peek at ZAP Festival Zinfandels

Top wines to watch out for this year


Slideshow
10 Top Zinfandels from California


Santa Clara County

Much like Contra Costa County, Santa Clara County today is dominated by "bedroom communities" that, in this case, feed into the City of San Jose, but it wasn’t always this way. Not long ago, this was a rural area with easy access to the cities of San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco. This is a rugged region with a central valley hemmed in by hills and mountains. Historically, vines may have been planted on the valley floor, though as housing has replaced vines, winemakers have turned to the hills as potential vineyard sites.

2007 Guglielmo Santa Clara Valley Zinfandel Private Reserve, 14.4%

Very light on the nose and crisply red fruited, with notes of cranberry and red cherry dusted with white pepper, minerals, and a light vanilla top note. Smooth and slightly viscous in the mouth with a very easygoing character. This has some nice complexity with a slight edge of oxidation adding some nice development to the slightly minty red fruits. The tannins are barely noticeable yet the acidity is bright and refreshing. The finish is short and has nice tobacco tones accenting the strawberryish fruit.  84pts

Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County is directly east of the City of San Francisco, Oakland and across the San Pablo Bay from Marin County. While today the county is better known as a “bedroom community” for the city by the bay, there is a long history of winemaking here. Its proximity to the city coupled with the moderate climate and varied topography led to early success here. Some old vineyards remain producing wines that are similar to those produced in Lodi, which lies just to the east.

2008 Three Wines Co. Contra Costa County Zinfandel Evangehlo Vineyard, 15.2%
Intense and liquory on the nose with a deep, rich root vegetal underlay to the oak, framed by slightly jammy black cherry and wild blackberry fruit on the nose. This is intense and plush in the mouth. A very large wine that is seamless, dense but neither particularly chewy nor opaque. The fruit is supported by some serious tannins but it’s all in balance. Lovely boysenberry tones on the palate lead to a slightly plummier profile with a touch of black currant that leads to the long, jammy black currant and wood spice finish. A well-behaved bruiser of a wine. Not for everyone but very good for its type. 92pts

2008 Three Wines Co.  Contra Costa County Zinfandel Old Vines, 14.9%

Wooly and a bit wild on the nose with notes of peppery spice, forest floor, rich dark fruit, a hint of dried porcini and licorice over lightly medicinal, candied black cherry fruit. Big and rich but very well balanced on entry. This exhibits good depth and polish without being detail-less. The dark fruit is a bit plummy and framed, with chocolate and spice tones giving this a nice level of complexity. The finish is quite tannic and seems to show a bit of overextraction here as it finishes with a tactile feel to the slightly bitter earthy licorice tones. 87pts


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Comments

  • Snooth User: KimHauck
    Hand of Snooth
    43988 19

    Great article. We love HammerSky Zin from Paso Robles.

    Jan 13, 2011 at 4:11 PM


  • why weren't any from the Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, Healdsburg? These to me are some of the best and I have seen other reviews that claim this area to be prime Zin country. Is this because the author doesn't think they stand up to these listed? Or was it that there just weren't any in the sampling? Or, did I miss something in the report?

    Jan 13, 2011 at 5:21 PM


  • Snooth User: JJZak
    649261 11

    I too noted the absence of any Sonoma County wines. Wow! What a change. Although, Pappapietro Perry Zin (Dry Creek Valley) is a knock your socks off wine.

    Jan 13, 2011 at 5:32 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 201,894

    Maybe this paragraph will help explain that.

    "As you can imagine, there are tons of great Zins out there, and many, if not most, come from Sonoma County. In fact, there were so many wines to taste for this article that I’ve decided to split the load into two parts. Today I’ll be reviewing the wines from some regions that might be less well known, particularly for their Zinfandel production."

    Jan 13, 2011 at 6:21 PM


  • Snooth User: knosbetta
    729064 1

    Hmmm...A quick review of the recently released results of the SF Wine Competition shows 71 Zinfandels awarded Gold (or better) Medals in the $20-+$50 catagories. 51 of those 71 (72%) were from Sonoma County. 20 of those 71 (28%) were from Dry Creek Valley. Those results would have been even more lopsided had some of the best producers from Sonoma (Seghesio, Nalle, Raffinelli, etc.) entered the judging.
    Sort of like an article on the Rolling Stones without a mention of Mick Jagger.
    Just sayin'

    Jan 13, 2011 at 6:30 PM


  • Snooth User: outthere
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    324443 3,730

    Just goes to show you Greg that people aren't reading your articles just your recommendations.

    Jan 13, 2011 at 8:04 PM


  • Snooth User: clifhenry
    721107 27

    Curious, as well, regarding the absence of Sonoma/Russian River/Dry Creek wines; nothing from Ridge, Carol Shelton, Martinelli etc. Hard to believe, at least for me, that these guys struck out in a list of 32.
    CHH

    Jan 13, 2011 at 8:49 PM


  • Snooth User: Frauenberg
    644986 21

    I live in germany, so my palate is close to european wines, but every time when i have the opportunity to taste a good zinfandel, it is hard for me to find any point in the structure of these wines, that doesn't make me feel good. Congratulations to the art of winemaking out of this grape in california! One of my favorites is the "Directors Cut" Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel from FF Coppola.

    Jan 14, 2011 at 5:16 AM


  • Thank you for the clarification. While I try to read the articles completely through, it is obvious that I missed that part. And, while you may have trouble believing this from someone who just demonstrated that they didn't read carefully, I do enjoy your articles; they are some of my favorite readings regarding wines.

    Jan 14, 2011 at 10:07 AM


  • Snooth User: tlb73737
    354038 35

    Yes folks Sonoma produces some great Zins. But to feel slighted because the article mentions Paso Robles and Lodi is more than a bit ridiculous. Those regions produce some great wines. For those of us who like Zins, those regions should be celebrated. I love those regions an am glad that to hear that they are getting some press. There is more than one region in California and as a native Californian I celebrate them all, not just one.

    Jan 25, 2011 at 11:12 PM


  • As soon as it was explained that Sonoma wines were in their separate article I retracted. My first (and erroneous understanding) was that this singular article was looking at all Zins and did not contain any from that region which was perplexing. I too, like Zins from the other regions (Lodi, especially) and am extremely appreciative of the information. I agree, to have done all of them in one article would have been too much.

    Jan 26, 2011 at 9:46 AM


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