The Best of Zinfandel
An amazing line up of the very best Zinfandels
Before we take a look at some producers and their wines a few words about recent vintages.
2013 - While it’s too early to tell exactly where things will pan out in 2013 things are at least looking promising. I heard some producers who believe it will be one of the greatest while others felt the sugars got ahead of the flavors a bit. Everything came in pretty much together this year causing some logistical problems at smaller operations. It will be interesting to follow the development of these wines.
2012 - A big, beautiful, ripe vintage that some are saying reminds them of 1991 in the sense that everything ripened well and evenly though at the same time and with yields coming in well above expectations space in the winery was at a premium. After the troublesome years of 09, 10 and 11 this was a blessing for the industry, though a few producers did say that they were concerned that the crop lead to some lighter wines they might have preferred. Leaving me to wonder whether they were referring to impacy of grape growing issues or winemaking issues due to the scramble for space.
2011 - Softer for the most part with supple tannins and moderate scale, which is a positive outcome considering that most producers feel this is among the worst if not the first vintage of their lifetimes. Vineyards got off to a slow start and had to deal with a cool, damp growing season, which was particularly hard on heat loving Zinfandel. Still there were success, mostly those who were able to pick before the one two punch of storms that arrived in early October followed by a warm front that caused rot to become a significant issue for those who had hoped to wait out the storms.
2010 - A cool vintage that was marked by a heat spike in August. Making matters worse is the proactive stance growers took after the difficult 2009 vintage which was also very cool. Aggressive canopy management and leaf pulling meant that when the heat spike struck many clusters had little protection from the sun. The results speak for themselves. Significant loss of fruit, up to 60% in some cases and an entire vineyard as an isolated case, and wines that often carry a roasted, almost pruny note even though their flavors tend to be rather fresh and towards the red end of the spectrum due to the cool growing season. Unusual wines but not without successes.
2009 - Set the stage for 2010 in that it was a cool growing season followed by tremendous rain right before harvest that really impacted the production of Zinfandel. Growers who picked before the rains brought in some lighter Zins though many do show an unripe edge both in their higher acids, which can be welcome as well as with dry tannins which are often not well covered by the fruit in this difficult vintage.
Now on to the show. Producers are listed in the order of my visits. Some were packed with Zinfandels, other featured but one example, but I’ve included them all here.