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Snooth User: billc78

Hello Snooth!- any reccommendations on Zins

Posted by billc78, Apr 1, 2014.

So my wife loves zins but we really like a velvety mouth feel with some good fruit.  Right now our favorite is The Zin by Cosentino.  If anyone has recommendations my wife is starting to sware off all other booze except this zin so help me out.  We are open to other reds as well.


Reply by EMark, Apr 1, 2014.

Bill, have you ever come to the right place.  There are a lot of Zinfandel fans, here.

Since reading your introductory post, I've done a bit of research.  First, I went to your Snooth profile and found that you live in Atlanta, GA.  That is good information to know.  Since you live in a large metropolitan area, we can assume that you have access to most of the better-distributed labels.  However, since you don't live near what might be described as "Zinfandel Country" (i.e., California) it may be more difficult to find some of the less well-distributed (i.e., smaller) producers, unless you resort to on-line distributors or direct contact with the wineries. 

The second piece of research that I did was to go to the Cosentino web site and learn about "The Zin."  Cosentino sources the grapes for The Zin from the Lodi area in the Central Valley of California.  So, one thing I might suggest to you is to look for other Zinfandels that are made from grapes grown in Lodi.  To me the description "some good fruit" for a Zinfandel just screams Lodi.  My personal favorite Lodi Zinfandel is from a producer called Oak Ridge.  I think there are Total Wines stores in the Atlanta area.  So, if you are near one of them, they will have it.  The standard Oak Ridge bottling has "Ancient Vines" on the label, and it will cost about $12.  They also have a "Reserve" bottling for a tad over $20.  Personally, I have never tried their Reserve bottling.  No particular reason.

Zinfandel is grown all over the state of California, and, as you might suspect, the different growing areas yield different wines.  My personal prejudice is that the best Zinfandel comes from the northern part of Sonoma County.  So, I lean towards Zins from Dry Creek Valley, the Rockpile Area, and Alexander Valley.  However, on this board you will we have fans of Zins from Paso Robles, Sonoma Valley, Sierra Foothills and Napa Valley.  They all have their merit, and I can see how each one of them could be somebody's favorite.

Here are a list of producers that have fairly wide distribution.  So, you should be able to walk into local retail wine shops/stores and have a good chance of finding them.

Ridge -- One of my favorite producers.  Ridge has for many years had an outstanding reputation as a Zinfandel maker.  They have bottlings from various locations.  My personal favorite is Lytton Springs, but I would not turn down any offer of any Ridge Zinfandel.  Many of the Ridge bottlings are "field blends," which means that the wine is made from multiple grape varieties that were grown in the same vineyard.  So, it it may be difficult to find the word "Zinfandel" on their label.  Look at this sample:


Towards the bottom of the label it shows that this wine was made from 71% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah and 7% Carignane--all grown in the Lytton Springs vineyard in Dry Creek Valley.  I don't know if Ridge has a Lodi bottling, but nothing would surprise me.  Most of the Ridge bottling of which I am aware are from various Sonoma and Paso Robles locations.  I think you'll find the price for Ridge Zins to be between $30 and $40

Seghesio -- Another one of my favorites.  Again, most of the Seghesio bottlings are from various Sonoma locations.  Prices range from the high teens to the mid 30s.

Ravenswood -- A very respected Zinfandel winery with, again, multiple bottlings from all over the state--including, I believe, Lodi.  Ravenswood also has a good low-dollar version called "Vintners Blend."  Prices on Ravenswood range from about $10 (for the Vintners Blend) to the high 40s for some of their old vine single-vineyard bottlings.

Cline --  Not quite as easy to find as some of the above, but an outstanding producer.  Prices from about $10 to the mid 40s.

Here are a couple favorites of mine and some others here on this board that may be more difficult for you to find.  Heck they're hard for me to find here in California.  So, if you are interested in them, the best thing to do might be to go to their web sites and either join their winery club or get on their mailing list.  That's what I did.  I'm, in fact, expecting a delivery, tomorrow.  

Bedrock -- Outstanding wines from various areas.  Many of their wines are made from historic old-vine vineyards.

Mauritson -- Outstanding Zinfandels from their vineyards in Dry Creek Valley and the Rockpile AVA.

I hope that others jump in here, Bill, to give more recommendations.  Their suggestions will be just as good as mine.  So, I would encourage you to try different examples.  


Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 1, 2014.

Emark's recommendations are spot-on, esp because you are outside the Zin Belt.  Those are all good places to start.  I'd even say he has them in pretty good order of quality, although you could argue about Seghesio and Ravenswood only because Ravenswood has a broad range of bottlings.  But what you will find in the stores--like the Vintners Blend--is probably at the lower end of R'wood's range.  Which is still really good--when I'm far from home, I know I can rely on it.  Turley is also probably available near you, but it's more expensive and ultra concentrated.  I'm not a huge fan of it, but it's good if you like the style, great even.  Sobon from the Sierra Foothills is reasonable and sometimes gets to markets father east. My wife has enjoyed Klinkerbrick, a widely distributed Lodi Zin, although I have never had it.  She and I usually agree on Zins, although at the very top we differ in our #1 vs. #2.

Once you've gone down that road, you owe it to yourself to make a trip to Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma and try some of these wines that Emark talks about.  I'd add Bella, Talty, Unti, Gracianna, Carlisle, Williams-Selyem (that last one might be available near you) to my list.  Also Ulises Valdez, Nalle, and Preston.  Not too far away in Sonoma Valley, Bucklin has the oldest vines of almost every sort, and a Zin that I can only describe as "history in your mouth." For a one-time tasting of some of the best Zins from the region, you could do worse than to build a vacation around Project Zin. In addition to the great wines, you'll get some great pairing ideas. But sign up quickly--both the event and rooms sell out fast.

Hope that helps.  Have fun exploring Zinfandel.

Reply by outthere, Apr 1, 2014.

Fox, you need to re-visit Turley, Obviously you have not had any of the past 4-5 vintages.

Reply by dmcker, Apr 1, 2014.

All good posts above, Bill, and welcome to Snooth! The second half of Mark's post, and those by Fox and OT are perhaps expert level. Starting with the first part of Mark's (up through Cline), you can't go wrong, and can certainly keep you busy for awhile. When you talk 'velvety' that more than whispers Cline to me.

Reply by dvogler, Apr 1, 2014.

Ridge Geyserville is one of my favourites (again a blend, but about 70% Zin).

I had a Hendry zinfandel awhile ago that was very good, they're in Napa.

BTW, Welcome Bill!


Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 2, 2014.

Yep, OT is right, the last time I had Turley I bought some old vintages for a themed tasting--nothing more recent than 2003.  I did receive a gift of the Juvenile, which is Cali designated, from a more recent vintage.  Probably 2009.  Good, not great--it's the "supermarket" Turley, like R'wood Vintners Blend but 2.5x the price.  It was fine, but as a blend not really distinctive and I think just a hint of their style.  I've heard that they backed off on the superripe and ultraconcentrated style and it's not so expensive that I wouldn't reconsider, but, to my taste, it isn't as exciting as Rockpile or Talty and it doesn't age like a Ridge.  If I step off my usuals, I'm probably going to buy more Bucklin or grab some Bella--something that has a story.  That said, even those old school Turleys were nothing to laugh at--they outclassed most of the wines people brought to the tasting.  But my comment is probably dated, and I did recommend those wines anyway.  They are always well-made and not tricked up. I'm of the opinion that other wines that source the same old vineyards, including Matt Cline's 3Wines efforts, are a better deal.  Which means to me that the OP should get on the WineAccess email list and start buying some of those 3Wines offers.  For $15 bucks, some really good Zin delivered to your door. 

Reply by William Djubin, Apr 2, 2014.

My Photo @ RIDGE LYTTON. 100 yr.

Reply by William Djubin, Apr 2, 2014.

Knotty and all Paul Draper. Steele Catfish and Storybook 2003 both close 2nds. Understanding Ravenswood "Dickerson" importance vs. Bordeaux. Obviously.

-- The Original pic is 18MB.  & could cover your wall.

Viva Ridge Lytton Springs


Reply by EMark, Apr 2, 2014.

That's an outstanding pic, William.  Thanks.

Reply by edwilley3, Apr 6, 2014.

I also enjoy Ridge zin blends. I have enjoyed Paraduxx "Postmark" zin/cab blends. The Howell Mtn version is quite nice, especially in the 2007 vintage.

I can't believe no one mentioned Biale or Martinelli. Martinelli's Jackass and Jackass Hill vineyards produce some concentrated large scale zins, but from a value perspective their Giuseppe & Luisa bottling is very nice, not overly bombastic, and a pretty good value.

I second the remarks about Turley. The "California ZInfandel" bottle is the true supermarket version (although that is not the case in Texas), whereas the Juvenile sits just above that. They are fine. The Juvenile really does take to air. If you have the patience to give it at least several hours it will be rewarding. That said, I think that my favorite Turley vineyard bottling is Rattlesnake. The 2011 rendition of Rattlesnake does project big fruit but it's very fragrant with a nice structure and good balance.

The Tobin James "James Berry" I had not long ago was outstanding quality for the money.

I tried a Rombauer zin that was awful. It tasted like Welch's grape jelly whirred in a blender with Everclear and a splash of water and bitters. Just terrible. It's in Turley territory for alcohol level but unlike a decanted Turley (never taste hot to me) the Rombauer was just hot, lacking in depth, and vaguely metallic on the back end.

Reply by EMark, Apr 6, 2014.

Afraid I'm going to have to second Ed's thumbs down on Rombauer Zinfandel.  I confess that I have only had one experience, but it was similar to his.

Reply by edwilley3, Apr 7, 2014.

I just realized that I incorrectly referred to the Tobin James as "James Berry". The correct reference is "James Gang". For the money it's good stuff.

EMARK, my experience with the 2012 Rombauer chard a few weeks ago was similarly off-putting. It tasted like sawdust and was surprisingly hot - once again - on the finish. There was hardly any fruit and what was there came across as cantaloupe. There was a bit of spritz on it, too. Gross. Based on both recent experiences, I have to say that Rombauer is more of a marketing company than a winery.

Reply by William Djubin, Apr 8, 2014.

Zin is what it is.. USA 100%  Maybe you should try Schrader Vieux-Os..

Mine as a gift from a wine customer and amazing. Turley Cult.

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