I’ve said recently that Grenache could replace Pinot Noir in the due course of time, offering everything that people like about value priced Pinot while being both better suited to the warm climate of California, and easier to grow. In like fashion Zinfandel should replace Cabernet at a certain price point, though there is no doubt that Zinfandel is much more difficult to grow and produce, so maybe that will not happen. But look at the  reasons why it could.

Zinfandel is a better value than Cabernet, just compare wines at $20 or $40 and see which is more distinctive. I’m not knocking all Cabernet, of course some are fabulous. It's just that due to demand much and maybe even most Cabernet is both over-priced and made in a style that pretty much obscures terroir and pulls the wines towards a standard of homogeneity. Zinfandel offers so much more. More variety of styles, that even I can’t say I like all of. More distinctive wines that really speak as much about variety as they do about origin. More approachability, and an ageing curve that means you cellar zin for a year or three before diving into to recent vintages as opposed to waiting five to ten for the great Cabernets to strut their stuff.
 
There are also more great producers than ever bottling world class, distinctive Zinfandels in a broader range of styles than ever before.  If you’ve tried a few examples and didn’t find them to your liking I urge you to continue your exploration. The diversity among producers is quite striking, though it can be hard to determine what one producer’s wines might be like without actually tasting the wines. Such is the state of both wine writing and wine labelling.  And if you are not sure about how you feel towards Zinfandel I suggest you open your mind, and pay attention to these wines. They have so much to offer, among which is their deep historical importance to the state of California and America’s wine industry. 
 
When you drink Zinfandel you drink a microcosm of the industry. the old vines, the field blends that harken back to earlier times. Then there are the microbins and new clones that attempt to address some of the issues Zinfandel has faced. It’s a very exciting time to be a lover of Zinfandel, though I must admit I do have some concerns. Those production figures for example. Zinfandel’s production has been stable over the past decade or so, though to be sure we’ve lost some of the great old vine vineyards. With any renewed interest in these wines the demand is sure to rise putting upward pricing pressure on the best examples. Maybe we are at an inflection point for these great wines. Already it is not uncommon to find $45 Zinfandels, a price point beyond the means of many. After all perhaps this article wasn’t as good idea as I had thought. But I do love these wines!