A U.S. Gold Medal Varietal: Zinfandel

02 Aug

With Olympic fever in full swing, I decided I should dedicate my reviews to medal winning countries. Until I can get my hands on a Chinese wine (and I do believe I have found my contact for that one!), I’m going to have to sort through the other medal winning countries and present you with their winning wines and varietals.

Today’s ‘presentation’ goes to the United States and what is considered to be the country’s truly “American” varietal (even though it looks like it has it’s roots in Croatia). Allow me to introduce you to the United States ‘gold standard’ varietal-Zinfandel.

Zinfandel wears more hats than any other grape I’ve come across. It’s many styles include zingy, ripe berry-fruit sensations in red; bold, tannic, spicy devils, vin nouveau (young, light bodied reds), and tart roses. I have seen soft, simple blushes (better known as ‘white’ zinfandel), Zins turned into sparkling wines, plus those that are turned into dessert and fortified wines (I have a bottle of Montefino Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port chilling as we speak~YUM!). No matter how picky the person may be, there’s sure to be a Zinfandel style to please.

Although they say ‘Cabernet is King’ in California, you could easily say that Zinfandel is the emperor, as there are nearly as many acres of Zinfandel planted as Cabernet Sauvignon. Or maybe it should get a Congeniality award, since it is as comfortable at a backyard bbq as it is in a fine dining establishment with a steak. This varietal loves everything!

Some of the most notable areas growing Zinfandel styles (besides just the basic California state appellation are Amador County, Paso Robles, Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley, and the Russian River Valley.

Which Zinfandel am I sipping on this evening? I pulled a DeLoach 2009 Heritage Reserve Zinfandel from California. It’s an easy sip…trust me! Very fruit forward with rich, ripe berries and cherries on the tongue, a touch of cola flavor, a hint of vanilla and spice, pretty garnet color in the glass. Total non-offender, this one! Good balance makes it perfect with food or just for sipping alone. I actually paired it up with my Baked Ziti since I didn’t want to decant an Italian Barolo…I wanted to eat, dammit! Cut through the cheese, italian sausage, and worked well with the marinara.

What makes this one even better is the price: right around $10. This is an awesome everyday wine that you can break out for company and know you’re going to get smiles from the crowd…call it the ‘Gabby Douglas’ of Zinfandel…an all-around winner!

Other favorite Zins of mine you might enjoy are Seghesio (a variety of choices from $20-45), 7 Deadly Zins ($17), Renwood Vineyards of the Sierra Foothills ($20-38), Rancho Zabaco of Sonoma ($13-23, OR you could get their ‘little brother’ Dancing Bull Zinfandel with a California designation for under $10), Cline ‘Ancient Vines’ ( $15, although you can find any of their Zins between $11 and $22), and Sledgehammer out of the North Coast of California ($15…see my YouTube review of the 2008 vintage at–C50QK2w…DON’T FORGET TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE PAGE SO YOU DON’T MISS ANY REVIEWS!…okay, shameless plug is now over).

Honestly, there are so many wonderful Zinfandel choices from so many areas of California, that you could spend every day of the Olympics sipping a new choice and you wouldn’t run out.

Pick up a bottle tonight and find out what makes this varietal such a winner…I know I’ll be doing more of the same.




Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


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3 responses to “A U.S. Gold Medal Varietal: Zinfandel

  1. Ashley "Magnum" Olbrys

    August 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Reblogged this on magnumwinesintl.

  2. the drunken cyclist

    August 3, 2012 at 10:10 am

    So what are your thoughts on older zins? I tend to shy away from the big and fruity and find them much more approachable after they have some age on them. I think that may just be me, though….

    • corkedcowgirl

      August 3, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Normally I wouldn’t be able to be patient enough to let a Zinfandel sit around long enough to age…lol. That being said, there are some Zins that can age quite well. I know Seghesio (one of my favorite wineries for Zinfandel) had exceptionally good luck with their 2001 batch. One factor in deciding if a Zin will be age-worthy is in it’s level of acidity. Typically, higher percentage of alcohol means lower acidity, and that will possibly make an aged zin sort of hollow and boring on the flavors.

      If you don’t like the big, bold, fruit-driven, high alcohol beasts, I might suggest getting a Zinfandel out of the Central Coast of California. They tend to be a bit softer and more supple. If you’re a fan of a Rhone-style, then I recommend a Zin from the Sierra Foothills.

      Regardless of your preferences, there is bound to be a Zinfandel for all tastes. So many choices and varieties! And the most important factor in determining which Zinfandel you prefer is your own taste palate. If you like an aged Zinfandel, then that is the right choice! It’s all about what you like…there are no wrong choices.

      Happy sipping!



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