8 Elegant Zinfandels

GDP gives us his top 8 Zinfandels for summer


2009 Tamas Zinfandel Central Coast 15% $11
Lovely nose shows gentle layers of blackberries, strawberry and brambly spice. Smooth and a touch sweet in the mouth, this delivers a nicely vanilla-framed core of rather black cherry fruit, with accent notes of wood spice and pepper adding 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. 85pts
2010 Predator Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi 15% $15
This smells like grilled meat. Charry and beefy with teriyaki and smoked hickory nut top notes. Pretty sweet on entry, this is a large-scaled wine and is fairly well balanced at that, delivering slightly candied and grape flavors to the palate along with hints of herbs and bramble that become more obvious on the back end, as do the dry wood tannins here. The finish is a bit harsh and woody, covered by sugar but still peeking through. This will have its fans, but it is not particularly typical. 84pts

2010 Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Zinfandel Mendocino Co. 14.5% $17

Sweet and caramelly on the nose with notes of carob, dill and smoke. This is broad and very soft in the mouth with spicy herbal/vanilla-tinged blackberry fruit topped with some dill and wood spice. You can’t fault it for lacking flavor or complexity, but it does feel extracted on the finish with surprising fruit tannins for Zinfandel. There is not much length here either. All in all, a perfectly serviceable and somewhat varietal Zin, but there are better options at this price. 84pts

2008 Rutherford Ranch Zinfandel Napa Valley 15.5% $17
A little alcoholic on the nose, though this does show nice raspberry, briar and fennel seed notes underlain with some spicy vanilla oak and a touch of tar. Big in the mouth but not terribly heavy, this is rather dark tasting with plenty of licorice and toffee notes wrapped around the core of raspberry and prune fruit. Shows a nice layering of wood spice. A big wine that’s a touch disjointed, needs food to tame it. 84pts

2009 Ghost Pines Zinfandel 85% Sonoma Co/15% San Joaquin Co 14.5% $20

This has a really nice balsamic edge to the nose, bordering on eucalyptus with some smoky oak top notes over creamy raspberry fruit that shows some pomegranate spice. Soft and a little low acid in the mouth, this does deliver a nice array of varietal flavors, bramble, blackberry and spice. This has a nice black cherry follow through but the finish fades away and the wine is just a little too ponderous. A bit sticky and extracted on the finish as well. 84pts

2009 Bella Big River Ranch Zinfandel Alexander Valley 14.7% $34

Oaky and dark on the nose with notes of fudge, dried fruits and mocha all topped with a eucalyptus edge. Rich and mouth-filling, this is a touch soft in the mouth and has many of the same slightly dried fruit- and amber-toned flavors that were apparent with the nose. The fruit on the back end is lean with some sour cherry notes, but is overshadowed by tough oaky and chocolate notes. Well made but not a lot to actually like here. 82pts

2008 Cakebread Cellars Zinfandel Red Hills Lake County 15.2%

This smells ripe and oaky with alcoholic heat on the nose. Soft in the mouth and sort of formless, this delivers modest cherry berry fruit in a loose style with a finish that is dominated by grainy, papery wood tannins. Out of balance and unattractive. 70pts



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8 Elegant Zinfandels

Alysian Bradford Mtn Block Three Zinfandel (2009)
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Dashe "Les Enfants Terribles" Mcfadden Farm Potter Valley More United States Zinfandel (2010)
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Klinker Brick Zin 375 (2009)
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Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves Zinfandel Belle Canyon Estate (2009)
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Frank Family Zinfandel Napa Valley Wines Domestic Zinfandel (2009)
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Benessere Zinfandel St. Helena Estate Black Glass (2008)
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Summers Four-Acre Zinfandel Italian Miscellaneous White Miscellaneous White (2009)
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Dashe Zinfandel Dry Creek (2010)
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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Billr85
    1122577 23

    Not one from Paso Robles area??

    Aug 07, 2012 at 4:35 PM

  • Snooth User: tracyd
    208444 45

    My two (three) faves didn't make it, either... From Michael David - Earthquake and Seven Deadly Zins. And a new favorite - Edmead. That last one was a complete surprise.

    Aug 07, 2012 at 7:03 PM

  • I agree with comment about Paso Robles

    Aug 07, 2012 at 8:34 PM

  • Snooth User: Capnkrusty
    613797 31

    I have had 4 of those wines and absolutely agree that they are excellent. I just have to say you need to try the 2010 Dashe (both) with grilled Lamb, it doesn't get any better!

    Aug 08, 2012 at 12:13 AM

  • Snooth User: skwirskm
    985184 19

    Glad to see that Frank Family made it in there. Drank a bottle last week and loved it! Excellent wine!

    Aug 08, 2012 at 11:39 AM

  • Snooth User: homestar
    512161 83

    I haven't had any of these wines, some great zins I have had are Talty, Joseph Swan, and Cosentino. Seghesio hasn't been mentioned in the zin series,despite having two wines in the WS top 20 or so the last few years. These lists only prove GDP's basic point that there is a lot of very good Zinfandel being made, eh?

    Aug 09, 2012 at 8:20 AM

  • Snooth User: Buds Girl
    1126909 22

    Seghesio and Frog's Leap....

    Aug 10, 2012 at 2:20 PM

  • Don't forget Sausal and Nalle

    Aug 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM

  • Totally agree with you, Zinfandel is the best wine I have ever tasted. Among red wines, of course

    Aug 14, 2012 at 8:56 AM

  • Snooth User: Hrabrina
    291264 11

    Hendry and Turley

    Sep 07, 2012 at 1:32 AM

  • Snooth User: Caveman6
    1279793 15

    Oh, I'm crying...This wine is so delicious, but I can't drink it 'cause I keep to the diet


    Apr 27, 2013 at 2:08 AM

  • Snooth User: jamchimps
    1385295 43

    Thats very good...

    Oct 28, 2013 at 2:47 AM

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