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Red Zinfandel   May 8 , 2004

According to The Oxford Companion to Wine, © 1999: “Zinfandel is an exotic black grape variety of European origin cultivated predominately in California that has tended to mirror the giddily changing fashions of the American wine business.”

The vine was imported, possibly unnamed, to the USA from the Austrian imperial nursery in Vienna by George Gibbs of Long Island, probably in 1829.” Many of those who participated in the California Gold Rush of 1849 turned to agriculture… In 1862 the Secretary of the Sonoma Horticultural Society gave some wine made from these grapes to a French Winemaker working in California who reported that it tasted like a ‘good French Claret’.’’ …DNA FINGERPRINTING … has demonstrated that it is one and the same as PRIMITIVO of Southern Italy…”

Although Zinfandel has been required to transform itself into virtually every style and color of wine that exists, it is best suited to dry, sturdy, unsubtle, but vigorous reds with an optimum lifespan of four to eight years.”

Top choices were (going toward best) Estancia (1) and Four Vines (5), Cline Ancient Vine (8), Terra d'Oro (9).

From the Bottle Label

Estancia Zinfandel 2000 $10

(Estancia & Liberty School are both sub-labels of another vinyard.)

Dirk and others thought this one very good. Good value for the price. Nice nose. Some thought thin, acid, not well balanced. Somewhat "unfinished" or rough but does not seem like aging would improve.
2 Kendall Jackson Zinfandel 2001 Vintner's Reserve No tanin, no bigness. Not popular.
3 Rancho Zabaco Cry Creek Valley, Sonoma County 1999 $15 Smooth, not much there. A little body and tanin. Suggestion of mushroom taste, flat taste. (might need breathing)
4 Seghesio Sonoma 2002 $17-$19 Not much berry. Spicy.
5 Four Vines Old Vine Cuvee 2001 $9 A dry flavor. Lots of body. Carolyn: Not much nose. Fullness, interesting. Really has Zin aroma, very well balanced. Nice fruitiness. Dirk: no bouquet, lacking in flavor.
6 Bogle Vinyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2001 More acidy, not so balanced. Tillie liked.
7 Norman Vinyards Paso Robles "The Monster" 1997 Zinfandel This seems like it spoiled during aging.
8 Cline Ancient Vines 2002 $13 on sale, reg $15 Carolyn: "Best so far. This is a Zin! Classic Zin. Fruit with more essence than Four Vines." Stronger all the way through taste. Begins with fruit. Goes well with food, pate and cheese. Smoky. Dirk didn't care for: "lacks nose, taste and finish."
9 Montevina Terra d'Oro Amador Cty Deaver Vinyards Old Vines $20 Better than Cline. More body, more essense of fruit of Zinfandel grape. Depth of the fruit. Strong taste Amador Cty has 125 year old vines, the original vines not cuttings.
10 Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel Sonoma 2001 Had a bit of a sherry taste? (not a good memory of this one)
11 Ridge York Creek Zinfandel Late Harvest $30 Rich, higher brix with residual sugar.. Goes with cheesecake, rich food. Very good and interesting.