Varietal Spotlight: Zinfandel

“(California) The largest wine-producing state in the country does everything well, and one wine better than anywhere in the world: Zinfandel.”

– Wall Street Journal Nov 22 2013


While it may have old world roots this varietal has made its home with new world producers as the most widely planted variety in California. Regions where the grape currently is important: Russian River Valley, Sonoma, Sierra Foothills, Paso Robles, Napa, and Contra Costa.

Zinfandel is known for its rich, dark color scheme, medium to high tannin levels and a higher alcohol content. This exuberant red wine is capable of producing top quality red wines that can rival Cabernet Sauvignon. It offers an array of flavors including black and red fruit, spice, pepper, tar, licorice and wood. Depending on the climate and vineyard location, as well as the producers Zinfandel is generally produced in three styles: light bodied and easy drinking, medium bodied with ripe tannins and full bodied with intense fruit and firm tannins.

Light Bodied : These are by far the most abundant and the most popular. They are light, young, fresh Zinfandels in a Beaujolais style with fresh-forward berry flavors. These are wines of easy charm and balance that are drinkable upon release.

Medium Bodied : These upon release have more fruit flavors than the light-bodied styles and the tannins are more detectable. The spicy character becomes more apparent and the finish is longer. These are great selections to complement meat dishes.

Full Bodied : These are richer, deeply hued Zinfandels with a capacity for aging. They are concentrated and powerful with an underlying spiciness overlaid with flavors of raspberries and blackberries.

For those of you wondering what to pair your Zinfandels with…Zinfandel pairs well with plenty of meat: lamb, poultry, beef, game and some fish, under a variety of cooking styles (grilled, stewed, braised) and continues to showcase it’s versatility with tried and true pairing favorites like fish tacos, spicy fare or simply brats and burgers.

One of our favorites of the current vintage is the:

2012 Novy Zinfandel, Russian River Valley
Wine Spectrum Rated 94
Undoubtedly, what we love best about this wine (and about all of our Russian River Valley Zinfandels) is the superb levels of natural acidity. Zinfandel is almost always a ripe wine, and if it is flabby, this ripeness quickly gets out of hand. But with the great acidity provided by the cooler Russian River growing area, and the complexity originating from these old vines, we believe that our Russian River Valley Zinfandel combines the best of rich, forward fruit, with lively acidity, giving the wine both lift and balance. It also pops the aromatics of the wine, with vibrant aromas of raspberry and blueberries, and flavors of black cherries, sage, and even hints of spice and pepper. While we feel confident this wine will age well, we prefer drinking it sooner for its youthful expression of fruit and exuberance. About 300 cases produced. $29/bottle

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