Top Zinfandels from California

A cheat sheet for the ZAP Festival

 


The following are some Zins that I think are standouts at this year's ZAP Annual Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco, January 27-29. With hundreds, if not thousands, of wines to chose from, a little guidance can always be helpful. Stay tuned for next week when I present the best of the rest -- and since the rest is coming from the heart of Sonoma County, I'm betting there are going to be some very special wines!

2008 Talty Napa Valley Zinfandel Filice Connolly Vineyard, 14.7%

Spicy, fresh evergreen notes greet the nose, followed by pepper, cocoa, toasted marshmallow and gorgeously pure, brambly black raspberry fruit. With air, the wood spice and toast become smokier and a bit more assertive, but never overpower the wonderfully varietal fruit. Rich and powerful but also fresh and transparent, with a nice bed of soft tannins and succulent acidity supporting balanced, complex, spicy, cocoa-tinged black raspberry fruit. The finish is long and turns a bit redder with its assertive acidity. Really beautifully balanced; not a monster but still full-throttled and intensely flavored, if decidedly acid-driven. A Zinfandel for lovers of Italian wines. And I love Italian wines. 93pts

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2007 Claudia Springs Redwood Valley Zinfandel Vassar Vineyard, 14.7%

Very interesting on the nose, with layers of chocolate, eucalyptus and licorice giving the core of slightly jammy, grapey and boysenberry fruit a slight medicinal edge. Lovely freshness and sapid acidity in the mouth gives this a seductive feel and while the fruit is rich, it takes a bit of a second seat to the structural elements of the wine. The finish is all about sour red fruits and has great length to the cranberry and raspberry fruit tones, ending on a very firm mineral tone. A bit unusual but still has a lot of appeal. I bet this would be even better with food and seems like it would be a great match for duck. Subtle, complex and firm, this absolutely grows on me. 92pts

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2008 Three Wines Co. Contra Costa County Zinfandel Evangelho Vineyard, 15.2%

Intense and liquory on the nose with a deep, rich, root vegetal underlay to the oak-framed, 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 plumier 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

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2007 Benessere Napa Valley Zinfandel Holystone-Collins Old Vines, 14.5%

Creamy black cherry fruit, backed up with slightly medicinal notes, greet the nose, all accented with gentle soil tones and hints of briary herbs and vanilla. Nice and tight on entry, with good focus and energy across the palate. This delivers finely balanced black cherry fruit across the palate, framed with modest but firm tannins and accented with licorice, cocoa, and wood spice tones. There’s a fine freshness to this and wonderful varietal character. This finishes with great briary blackberry fruit that lingers and ends on a nice earthy spice note. 91pts

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2007 Claudia Springs Redwood Valley Zinfandel John Ricetti Vineyard, 15.5%

Fairly intense aromas balance notes of forest floor, sweet black raspberry and black cherry fruit, and gentle tones of wood spice. Really excellent balance on entry. This is a big wine, no doubt about it, but the balance really makes this deceivingly smooth and easy to drink. The mid-palate is dominated by classic brambly blackberry fruit, with hints of pie tobacco, vanilla and nutmeg, and maybe even a hint of white pepper. The finish is clear and crisp with a long, fresh black raspberry tone. Very refreshing and delicious. 91pts

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Comments

  • Was the Sonoma contingency left off the list intentionally? Ridge, Seghesio, Stryker, and Rosenblum are missing

    Jan 13, 2011 at 12:11 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,060

    Page 1

    Stay tuned for next week when I present the best of the rest -- and since the rest is coming from the heart of Sonoma County...


    Jan 13, 2011 at 12:21 PM


  • Will do! Thanks.

    Jan 13, 2011 at 12:49 PM


  • Where do you rate Seghesio Zin's?

    Jan 13, 2011 at 3:45 PM


  • Snooth User: LoneWolfe
    322933 2

    Exactly, where is Sonoma in all this. And the goddess of Zin, Carol Shelton.

    Jan 13, 2011 at 4:06 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,060

    It's right there lone wolf

    'Stay tuned for next week when I present the best of the rest -- and since the rest is coming from the heart of Sonoma County, I'm betting there are going to be some very special wines!'

    Jan 13, 2011 at 6:23 PM


  • Snooth User: LoneWolfe
    322933 2

    Well, actually, I would like for Sonoma to remain a secret. Let the crowds go to Napa. ;0) Thanks Gregory Have a good evening.

    Jan 13, 2011 at 7:20 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,060

    Well, no matter what I say I think they will!

    Zin is just not sexy, damn good, but not as sexy as Napa Cabernet.

    Go figure?

    Be well, and thanks.

    Jan 13, 2011 at 7:26 PM


  • Since the Wall Street Journal [John Brecher] rated" your 03 it's first choice and a winery name to remember"to this new ranking you have proved that he and others are so right. The 2008 FCV is outstanding as are your other wines.Sometimes the "little handmade works well"
    Alex 1/13/11

    Jan 14, 2011 at 2:19 AM


  • Write your comment here.

    Jan 14, 2011 at 2:19 AM


  • Snooth User: englanito
    122107 31

    Missed the greatest of all napa zin's - Biale

    Jan 14, 2011 at 1:22 PM


  • Snooth User: Francois de Melogue
    Hand of Snooth
    212256 7

    What a great article! It was refreshing to see Mendocino see well represented!

    Jan 14, 2011 at 2:54 PM


  • Snooth User: Tropicgal
    101287 5

    No Rosenblum?? This list is incomplete!!

    Jan 14, 2011 at 11:15 PM


  • I will try some of these. However, Brown Winery has some stellar Zins. I mean, Stellar. I like it better than Seghesio, which is very good. Brown is a small family run winery in Napa. I enjoyed the article, I may order some these wines we can't get here in Anchorage.

    Jan 15, 2011 at 2:19 PM


  • I just interviewed Vince Tofanelli. His Zin comes from his family vineyards in the Calistoga AVA. This is a beautiful Zin, so well balanced and flavorful but not over the top. Add Tofanelli Vineyards Zinfandel 2007 to your list. Vince will be pouring this wine at Zap. Try it and you will be stunned. Price $33. By the way Vince sells Zin grapes to Turley and Duckhorn. That should tell you something!

    Jan 17, 2011 at 8:22 PM


  • Snooth User: messygonzo
    1327679 35

    http://www.snooth.com/articles/top-zinfandels-from-california/?viewall

    Aug 02, 2013 at 6:08 AM


  • Snooth User: Mydietarea
    1328028 33

    nice

    Aug 03, 2013 at 1:59 AM


  • excellent

    Sep 09, 2013 at 3:17 PM


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