Zinfandel

Discussion in 'Other Beverages' started by VitisVinifera, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    This is shameless, but I love Zin. I make Zin. I buy, drink, and collect Zins. So let's talk about Zin. I think a lot of dark beer drinkers would find Zin to be an excellent choice.

    So for me:
    Love the Russian River Valley Zins. Carlisle and Hartford.

    Amador:so many good old vineyards here. Shenandoah Valley Vineyards, Turley, Easton, Rundquist. I used to go wine tasting in Amador frequently, haven't in the last few years, need to do this again and see how things are going.

    Lodi: m2, Macchia, Klinker Brick. Lodi has a lot of old vine Zin vineyards, probably the most in the world. Full disclosure, I work in the Lodi wine industry. I make Zins, I love and buy the grapes from these historic old head trained, own-rooted vines.

    Zinfandel rules. It's California's grape.
     
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  2. Hoos78

    Hoos78 Aspirant (244) Mar 3, 2015 Ohio

    Regusci in the Stag's Leap has a small block of old vine Zin that I buy several bottles of, yearly. It is my go-to for grilling and deck- imbibing. My guests always love it and are surprised as Regusci Is a bit under the radar, but their product is oh so good.
     
  3. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    wow there's Zin in SLD? I'd love to try it. That's prime Cab territory of course, but kudos to the producers who allow a bit of landspace to leave some Zin vines in.
     
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  4. Hoos78

    Hoos78 Aspirant (244) Mar 3, 2015 Ohio

    I believe they may be the only farm growing/producing Zin in SLD. They do much more volume in Cab, but some of their prime blocks, with just the right amount of stress, are old vine Zin. It is really delightful.

    They are not available in retail, only direct purchase. The property is well worth a visit and they are among the kindest, most genuine stewards in the region.
     
  5. eppCOS

    eppCOS Champion (891) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado
    Society

    Love some red Zin. Still stand by Seghesio and some of the Lodi offerings.
    Used to drink a lot of Rosenblum too but I don't see their stuff anymore at local wine shops.
     
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  6. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    I'll be in Napa within a week or two to pick up some branded corks and foils. Would Regusci have a bottle of their Zin to sell midweek?

    epp: I neglected Seghesio. San Lorenzo Zin is maybe the best Zin I've had in my life Rosenblum is amazeballs - they are very kind to industry folks. Kent is an animal advocate, which I'm also. Rosenblum makes some of the most diverse wines in California. He's a legend.
     
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  7. Hoos78

    Hoos78 Aspirant (244) Mar 3, 2015 Ohio

    I would assume so, we've visited this time of year several times and always have been able to grab some. A call ahead certainly wouldn't hurt.
     
  8. mambossa

    mambossa Disciple (369) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio
    Society

    Just kinda playing devil’s advocate for @VitisVinifera and @Hoos78 here, but what makes Zins so enjoyable for you guys in your experience? It’s a varietal that doesn’t really fit my preferable profile, but it definitely seems to be a beloved underdog style for a lot of customers I’ve encountered in the past in my previous jobs.
     
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  9. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Meyvn (1,331) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    My neighbor owns a vineyard in Amador. Every year I help him make Grappa with my still and he gives me wine in exchange.

    I love Zin....holds up perfectly to traditional California bbq like Tri-tip and pinquinto beans.

    Also goes great with a bone in ribeye.....crusted on the outside, medium rare inside
     
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  10. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    Mambo,I respect that. We all have our preferences. Some styles speak to us, whether it's wine beer or whatever, and some styles don't do it.

    Zin is a very California wine. The winegrape itself has obscure roots to Croatia, and never took off there. But it sure as hell did in Cali We have many old vine (50+, even 100+) vineyards. Post-phylloxera world wine, vineyards this old is special. And Cali has old vine Zin vineyards in spades. And we make those wines.

    History aside, the varietal profile of Zin is very California. Fruit-forward, ripe, sunny, high alcohol is how many of thejm tend towards. They can range from briary, to jammy, to overripe/port/prune. I maintain that Zin is the singular winegrape that can make proper wines in the underripe/ripe/overripe spectrum better than any other winegrape. Consider this: from white Zin to late harvest Zin; this ripeness spectrum is unequalled by any varietal, I'll allow Riesling in Germany may give Zin a run. Love those auslesen!

    -Steve
     
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  11. TriggerFingers

    TriggerFingers Disciple (340) Apr 29, 2012 California

    For me, Old Vine Zin's bring some of the most "jammy" and overripe notes of any red wine. When I talk jam, I mean some of those old Lodi vines give a concentrated Smucker's grape character that I don't find in any other varietal.
     
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  12. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Aspirant (258) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    Gnarly Head Old Vine was the first wine I tried that I didn't hate. Tried a few other Zins, but none have given me the same experience.
     
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  13. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    May I suggest visiting Lodi, just a bit south of Sacramento. As a major wine region, we have lots of weekend events going on, such as Zinfest, and there's Zin everywhere. The interesting thing about these old vine Zin vineyards is that they all have their own personality - and it translates to the wines. I used to make wine from this one old vine Lodi Zin vineyard that had a very prominent cedar smell - everyone picked it up. No cedar came anywhere near it, yet that sensorial aspect was impregnated into the fruit somehow. Contrasting that to the nearby Rutherford appellation, how the eucalyptus trees impart an eucalyptus sensorial aspect into the wines made from vineyards nearby.
     
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  14. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,806) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    My favorite style of wine by far. It’s big, Oak Ridge is a favorite from Lodi I think, under $15. I like the full body without the heavy Oak influence.
     
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  15. laketang

    laketang Meyvn (1,069) Mar 22, 2015 Illinois
    Society

    I like 7 deadly zins. And i think i remember having some nice zins in Paso Robles some years back at a winery that was a big white castle off the highway. They had great reds.
     
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  16. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,806) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    I like this wine too, sometimes I can catch it on sale here for like $12. Easily worth a buy.
     
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  17. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,806) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    It’s very fruit forward without being sweet, it’s also a bit higher in abv. I suspect the old vines low yield are responsible for the heavy fruit. I don’t like the heavy oak on most Cabs, so Zins fill a spot, it works with ost foods or simply as a TGIF sipper.
     
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  18. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Back in about 1973 I bought 6 bottles of Sebastiani Zin in Sonoma. We drove to Crater Lake to camp and we drank two bottles deep in the woods. It was an elegant style, easy to drink, but damned tasty. I spent many years in the beer and wine business and have always had a soft spot for many styles of Zinfandel.
     
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  19. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    Michael David Winery recently sold off the 7 Deadly Zins brand. I'm not sure what to expect from it going forward.
     
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  20. laketang

    laketang Meyvn (1,069) Mar 22, 2015 Illinois
    Society

    So we wait. Great zin for the price anyways. I like to pour zin into a glass and let it sit for a good 20 minutes.brijngs out the beauty in it. Tasty. But in the case of a sale I would expect a change of some sort.
     
  21. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (144) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Trader

    There might be some truth to that, but I enjoyed Zinfandel years before I liked dark beer. Maybe Zin helped me to acquire a taste for dark beer?

    If you're talking about Oak Ridge OZV, yes it is Lodi. OZV is our house Zin and I don't think I've ever paid more than $15. A buddy in Knoxville, TN sometimes finds it for $9 when bought by the case....and that we do.
    I pick up chocolate, raspberry, a bit of pepper. It's plenty full enough to pair well with a medium-rare ribeye or strongly caramelized St Louis ribs (kind of like a nice, dark stout does).
     
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  22. CaptainHate

    CaptainHate Champion (867) Apr 22, 2006 Ohio
    Society

    Correct on Oak Ridge but Ridge from the Santa Cruz mountains produces excellent, and probably more pricey, Zins and other blends which are outstanding.
     
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  23. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,806) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    Funny enough the only time it’s on sale is at TW is Oct I think, it’s $11.99 10% case discount. Seven Deadly Zins I can get at Walmart, but I don’t hold that against them, it’s easy to get, moderately priced and a nice sipper. I’ve had a boutique Zin for lack of a better word and at $40 a bottle it wasn’t one bit better than Oak Ridge.
     
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  24. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,690) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Society Trader

    Zins were my entry wine. Was at a wine focused restaurant in Austin and the chef closed the restaurant and invited us to stay afterwards and drink. I don't remember the zin that we had but it was heavy and almost port like. I was hooked from that moment on. My favorite by far is Buehler Zinfandel. When we were in Napa around 2007/2008 we visited their vineyard and I joined their red club. I always found their cabs reasonably priced and a pretty good bargain. I have a couple of their 2014 Zins lurking around in one of my wine fridges
     
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  25. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,806) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    I can age beers, but if I have good wine I drink it. I’d have to buy 10 at a time to keep any kind of inventory.
     
  26. Joe13

    Joe13 Initiate (30) Aug 7, 2018 New Jersey

    In case you want to span out from California Zins, Primitivo (Italian) and Zinfandel are actually both clones of a Croatian grape called Crljenak. I’ve heard that Primitivo ripens earlier than Zinfandel, which can result in lower-alcohol wines. European wineries may call Primitivo “Zinfandel” and vice versa, but American wineries may not. In 2002, a proposal was made to allow the names to be interchangeable in the United States, but it has not has been acted on yet that I have seen at least.
     
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  27. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    Joe, I made my first Primitivo last vintage. Zinfandel has always been the first red grape harvested in California across regions - it's what we keep an eye on to know how things are going. True to form, last year, two old vine Zins were my first grapes of the year. Then came everything else, and I was done with my contracts, but I knew there were still some good grapes out in the fields and I had time and room, so I called around. Took in a half ton of Primitivo to finish the year - at regular ripeness, not some late harvest stuff. This would have been about 6 weeks after the Zin. Same appellation.

    So my very anecdotal evidence is that Primitivo is actually quite a bit later than Zin, and Zin being almost always the first red in (this second part isn't anecdotal).

    As for the naming part, growers are allowed to call it either way, but they choose generally to stick with the name of the clone, and the nurseries call it one or the other so the growers follow suit.
     
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  28. Joe13

    Joe13 Initiate (30) Aug 7, 2018 New Jersey

    That's awesome, and very interesting. I just started getting into wine about a year ago, so my knowledge is very basic. But I enjoy it so much now that I've recently been considering moving from a beer career into a wine career.
    Do your wines make it to the East Coast, the tri-state area specifically? I would definitely like to try one of your zins if possible.
     
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  29. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (144) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Trader

    @VitisVinifera I was wondering the same about the southeast, more specifically NC, SC, GA, TN.
     
  30. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,331) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    Do they have any sort of tasting room? My wife and I drink a lot of zin (it's our favorite varietal), and yet I've never heard of this winery.
     
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  31. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,331) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    I'm glad you asked this question (my wife and I love zinfandel and drink quite a bit of it). By way of an answer, let me tell a story I heard many years ago, that I think epitomizes my love and impression of zinfandel.

    The story goes like this (I'll put myself in place of the principle reciting this story):

    Someone once asked me what my two favorite red varietals are, to which I answered pinot noir and zinfandel (which happens to be true). He then asked me which I would choose, if I had to choose one over the other. I mentioned that for me it's a mood kind of thing, and also depends on what food I might be having with it, or what the occasion is. He laughed and nodded, said he could understand all that, but even so, I must have a favorite between the two. I told him I really didn't, but that perhaps I could provide an analogy of how I see these two wines, that also encompasses their characteristics.

    Pinot Noir. A great pinot noir is akin to meeting the woman of your dreams. She's nearly perfect in every way, as she has flawless skin, beautiful eyes and hair, and a lovely figure. She's sophisticated and well educated, and can speak authoritatively on a variety of subjects and topics. She has a great sense of humor, but is never overly crude. You love spending time with her, and the hours and days seem to melt away without notice whenever you're together. You can't wait to introduce her to your parents, and are already marking the date on your calendar for when you plan to pop the big question.

    Zinfandel. A great zin is a gorgeous woman wearing a short black dress you meet in a noisy, flashy discotheque. She's built like Sophia Loren, and has the same sort of sultry dark, bedroom eyes. She's smart and witty, and has a great sense of humor. You talk for hours, with occasional trips out to the dance floor. When the bar closes down, she takes you back to her place where she makes passionate love with you all night long (she's a sorceress in bed). You're completely enchanted, and eventually fall asleep. In the morning she's gone, with only the scent of her perfume left behind.

    So now I ask you. Which do you think is the better wine varietal?
     
    #31 John_M, May 1, 2019
    Last edited: May 1, 2019
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  32. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,690) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Society Trader

    And you @John_M live in probably one of the best areas for Pinot Noir. My sister in law spent some time in Oregon touring the vineyards and brought home a mixed bag of Pinot Noirs' and I cooked a dinner to pair with them based on her tasting notes. I never was a big fan of the California Pinots but the ones from Oregon had an earthiness to them that just floored me. This has been a few years ago, but one she brought from Bergstrom was just flat out fantastic.
     
  33. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,331) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    That's funny. My wife tends to like pinots from California, which she finds to be more fruit forward and full bodied (she likes big reds). I like pinots from both areas, but I agree with you, the pinots from the Willamette tend have higher acid and an earthiness (or gout de terroir if you will) that is very different from most California pinots.

    Bergstrom makes very good pinot, but the price point has really gone up over the past 5 or 10 years. They're not quite in Domain Serene's league (who I think pride themselves on charging some of the highest prices in Oregon), but they're in the same ball park now. It's too bad, as I really like their wine, but they've just gotten too pricey for me. Fortunately, there are a lot of wineries up here making good pinot, and not all of them are charging $60 and upwards for their vineyard designated or proprietary release pinots.
     
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  34. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    Maybe someone should start a Pinot Noir thread? I have lots of thoughts an opinions on Pinot. My basic opinion on West Coast Pinot is this:

    Indeed, Oregonian Pinots are wonderful, and agree they exhibit more earthiness and terroir-driven elements than most Californian ones. For California, however, I find quite a bit of difference between them, based upon how far we are up and down the coast. The Santa Maria-area / SoCal Pinots are high-toned, high acid, and.......not really my style. The Carneros ones I've also not particularly cared for - they tend to be thin and very light bodied. But it's the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley Pinots that bring it all home. Very California style, in that they are dark, ripe, tons of fruit and spice, and marry well with high-end French oak barrels. Nearly all my Pinot purchases have been Sonoma Coast and RRV. The good versions of these have this Pepsi/RC Cola smell in them, in addition to layers of other good stuff.
     
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  35. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,806) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    I love lots of wines, my knowledge is so very basic. But my first Zin was the lightbulb that went off,I love big reds, but I don’t like oak, and I like fruit but I don’t like sweet. So Zins are absolutely magnificent, easily my favorite style, White Burgendys a distant second, of course I like Prosecco quite a bit as well.
     
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  36. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,331) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    You need to try the pinots from ZD (all of which are made from Caneros I believe - my brother-in-law loves their pinots). Their pinots are many things, and I suppose are not to everyone's taste (though I like them quite a bit), but light and very thin are one thing they are not. I would also recommend trying some of the vineyard designated/proprietary blends from Saintsbury.

    That being said... meh, you like good zin, so who needs pinot noir (if zin is what you love)? Cheers! :sunglasses:
     
  37. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    I've had all the Saintsbury Pinots, in fact those are the ones I think of most when it comes to Carneros PN. ZD on the other hand I haven't had.......all their wines seem to be about double the price they should be.
     
  38. scream

    scream Meyvn (1,030) Dec 6, 2014 Wisconsin
    Society

    Cline Cellars makes some very good Zins. Used t stop there on our annual Sonoma wine trip but stopped doing so. The wines continued to be great but standing 3-4 deep at the tasting bar due to busloads of folks made us drop that as place to stop. Maybe next fall.
     
  39. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,331) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    They are pretty expensive, but that seems to be pretty endemic to the entire Napa Valley these days. Increasingly, it seems like there are few deals to be found in Napa.
     
  40. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (119) Feb 25, 2013 California

    Interesting. Wine tourists and consumers are getting out of the Napa market because they can't find the deals - I used to know a good number of them but no longer. What are the current Napa deals in terms of the visiting tourist?

    edit: relating that back to Zin, it may be a reason why Zins are becoming increasingly popular: very California wines, lots of varietal character as well as ripeness and intensity, but hardly ever go north of $50/750