With that in mind, and keeping in mind that we’re in full ‘cue mode, I will suggest checking out some less expensive offerings for pairing with your backyard bashes. There’s plenty of delicious and well priced Zinfandel out there, it just takes some winnowing out to find the best of the bunch! I’ve found five wines that are perfect for sharing this summer. These wines are easy to drink, easy on the wallet and sure to put a smile on your face.
So kick back, fire up the grill and enjoy these top five Zinfandel wines under $15. Serve these wines with a slight chill but nothing too drastic. Just 15 minutes or so in the fridge will help keep the alcohol under control, particularly if you’ll be enjoying them outdoors on a warm summer’s day or eve. They’ll taste better that way and will be easier to pair with your favorite summer dishes!
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2009 Folie a Deux Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley $14
There’s a lot of caramel and licorice on the nose early on though it is joined by black cherry, plum and a little bit of a bouillon note with time. This is smooth and soft with plenty of cherry and strawberry fruit layered over lightly toasty and spicy oak. There’s lovely balance here, both structurally and with the flavors. While this may not blow anyone away, it’s a really well done bottle of Zin that shows off the wine’s fruity side without turning monolithic. The finish shows a bit of darker fruit but the tannins remain soft and the hint of sugar here drives the finish to a red currant jam/cocoa powder finale. 88pts
2009 Karly Zinfandel Pokerville Amador County $13
This is brimming with rich black fruit and bramble aromas that hint at some spice herb notes over a base of pepper. Very plump on entry, this is a soft wine that is smooth and polished. A bed of super fine tannins and decent acidity help to support rich, slightly chewy black cherry fruit that shows an attractive early spice note. Slightly more medicinal and perhaps lightly cola scented on the back end, this drifts off on the finish with creamy, blackberry and cherry flavors that continue to show a nice spice accent. Easy to drink and good bang for the buck. 87pts
2010 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel California $15
A little blueberry toned on the nose with some cocoa and a nice, aromatic wood note accenting the black raspberry fruit. This is light and fairly bright, with acidity supporting the blueberry notes from the nose. There’s a light lashing of vanilla here along with some toasty wood spice accenting the core of light blackberry fruit. Easy and smooth with soft tannins and juicy tannins making this easy to drink, though it does drop off a touch on the finish. 86pts
2009 Kenwood Zinfandel Sonoma County $14
Very lightly scented with a nice cocoa top note and some tarragon, mint and soapy floral notes all above the light berry fruit notes. This is lovely. A bit small-scaled and a bit simple, but it shows fine balance, soft tannins that add a hint of mouth grab, and fresh flavors of berries, cream and vanilla, topped with a touch of dried strawberry. It’s another simple wine but one that is easy to drink and true to type. It turns a little dry on the finish, but pair this with a nice rack of beef ribs and that will be the last thing you notice. 85pts
2009 Tamas Zinfandel Central Coast $11
Lovely nose shows gentle layers of blackberry, strawberry and brambly spice. Smooth, on the lighter-bodied side and a touch sweet in the mouth, this delivers a nicely vanilla-framed core of rather black cherry fruit. Accent notes of wood spice and pepper add complexity. There’s a little meatiness to the black spice on the back end, along with a hint of some stemmy herbs that turn into something more licorice and medicinal-toned on the slightly sweet finish. Pretty good stuff with good varietal character. 84pts