Retailer Wine Selections

For this issue, we asked members of the Beverage Dynamics National Retailer Wine Panel to recommend some of their favorite zinfandels. This hearty, red grape has long been venerated in California and its relatives have been grown in Old World regions, such as Italy, for many centuries. It is a classic, intense winter red wine and perfect for pairing with heavier dishes like roasts and stews. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’€™s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’€™re a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Richard Brandes at 212-353-3832, or email him at rbrandes@m2media360.com.

FIVE STARS

(95) Benessere B. K. Collins Vineyard Old Vines Napa Valley Zinfandel 2006 (California). A huge wine from a winery that deserves a whole lot more attention than it has been getting; one of the finest zinfandels on the market. ($30)

(95) Vermeil Luvisi 1908 Vineyard Zinfandel 2009 (California). The 1908 Block Zinfandel has bright, succulent fruit flavors that are just like biting into a juicy blackberry; some peppery spice and evident tannins balance the structure of the wine; a Napa Valley beauty that’€™s mouth-filling, intense and delicious. ($38)

(95) Deux Amis Sonoma County Zinfandel 2007 (California). Aromas and flavors of lilac, blackberry, white pepper, and clove all harmonize without being jammy; adds a bit of petite sirah for backbone and length; nice now, the ‘€™07 will cellar for several years. ($18)

(94) Seghesio Old Vine Sonoma County Zinfandel 2009 (California). A real mouth-filling, rich winner, with black cherry, dark berries, and hints of spice; a very satisfying example of the best of Sonoma County zinfandel. ($38)

(94) Ravenswood Old Hill Sonoma Valley Zinfandel 2008 (California). Blackberry and pepper aromas, followed by blackberry, pepper and spice flavors; big tannins; a very long finish. ($60)

(94) Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2009 (California). Lush, ripe flavors of black cherry, raspberry, coffee, and dark chocolate cover the palate and linger; great for grilled steak, lamb, game and pastas. ($17)

(93) Mara Dolinsek Ranch Russian River 2005 Zinfandel (California). Huge and jammy, with a port-like complexity, this wine delivers gobs of purple fruits, with a blueberry and cinnamon backbone; begs for a rack of St. Louis-style spare ribs slathered in a sweet ‘€™n’€™ spicy sauce. ($33)

(93) XY Zinfandel 2007 (California). Aromas of raspberry and baked cherry pie; fresh fruit up front with a well balanced finish; 100% zinfandel at its finest. ($17)

(92) Storybook Mayacamas Range Zinfandel 2007 (California). This is an old-style whopper zinfandel, with lots of fruit and lots of body. ($33)

(92) A. Rafanelli Dry Creek Zinfandel 2009 (California). Ripe, jammy berry aromas lead to deep berry and oak flavors on the palate; a little spice on the finish makes this wine outstanding. ($45)

(92) Ridge East Bench Zinfandel 2009 (California). A big, rich red that doesn’€™t sacrifice complexity; classic black fruit and spice notes with a long, complex finish. ($30)

(92) Ca’€™ Momi Napa Valley Zinfandel 2009 (California). Soft and elegant with hints of black fruit, briar, and delicate spice flavors; a harmonious wine with beautiful varietal characteristics; simply delicious and a surprising value. ($12)

(92) Macchia Vineyards Mischievous Lodi Zinfandel 2010 (California). A fruit-forward wine that is the standard of all great Lodi wines; the rich, ripe berry flavors are highlighted with a subtle hint of soft vanilla-oak. ($20)

(92) Cline Big Break Zinfandel 2009 (California). For serious zinfandel fans, this wine is exceptionally big and bold; robust fruit and a firm tannic backbone. ($25)

(92) Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel 2008 (California). A proprietary red from Ridge that is largely about old vine zin, which comprises 74% of the wine; petite sirah and carignane from the estate make up the balance; compact nose revealing some red plum and raspberry; some of that on the palate that also has black cherry and some black fruits; very firm structure with both acid and tannin; well balanced; have with meat stews and roasts. ($32)

FOUR STARS

(91) Brown Napa Valley Zinfandel 2009 (California). This wine is ripe and succulent combined with exotic spice; on the palate, balanced with deep, rich black fruit flavors and black pepper; a long finish completes this powerful wine. ($35)

(91) Robert Biale Black Chicken Zinfandel 2009 (California). Nice brilliant, deep ruby color; silky tannins; bright blackberry, raspberry and juicy cherry fruit; textural round mouthfeel, toasted nuts, allspice, dried herb, and a hint of five-spice. ($42)

(91) Moss Roxx Lodi Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2007 (California). The bouquet is quite complex, full of spice, perfume and leather, and then candied cherries and ground tea aromas pop in; medium-bodied, soft and smooth, and the palate is as complex as the bouquet, very flavorful and well balanced; the long finish highlights the darker end of the fruit spectrum. ($23)

(91) Montoya Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 (California). This old vine zinfandel hails from vineyards in Lodi; soft, velvety and brimming with ripe berry fruit; deftly balanced and a great value. ($15)

(91) Duckhorn Decoy Zinfandel 2007 (California). Beautiful red fruit with subtle spice expressions of an impressive zinfandel; full bodied and well balanced. ($20)

(91) Plungerhead Dry Creek ValleyOld Vine Zinfandel 2009 (California). This is excellent in the nose, with tea leaf, light spice, subtle oak and a good beam of fruit in the background; forward, bright and juicy on the palate, yet perfectly balanced with spice notes; rich, black fruit compote arrives at the finish, which is long and luscious. ($20)

(91) Rusina Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2007 (California). This Zinfandel is rich and concentrated with complex flavors of raspberry, black cherry spice and sweet vanilla jumping out of the glass; the tannins are silky and the wine has excellent structure. ($25)

(91) Bella Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2008 (California). Aromas of intense dark fruit are coupled with delicious gingerbread spice notes; well-balanced and juicy with a hint of vanilla on the finish. ($25)HHHH (91) St. Amant Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel 2009 (California). This old vine zinfandel comes from the Mohr-Fry Ranch Vineyard in Lodi; big and ripe with spicy blackberry and raspberry flavors; the tannins are balanced and the finish is smooth. ($20)

(91) Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2009 (California). Balanced with rich berry fruit and a hint of overripe plum rounded out with supple tannins and acidity; the texture coats your tongue with an elegance not often found in zinfandel. ($21)

(91) Ghost Pines Winemaker’€™s Blend Zinfandel 2009 (California). Although it could be labeled as a Sonoma County zin, the addition of fruit from San Joaquin adds depth and richness; lots of bright red fruit from the former location is augmented by the dark plum and berry notes the latter region brings; this wine will complement any number of dishes; tasty, and a real bargain. ($20)

(91) Dei Feudi di San Gregorio Primitivo di Manduria 2008 (Italy). From one of Italy’€™s leading Primitivo producing regions, this wine shows all of the reasons why Zinfandel/Primitivo is so popular; cooler conditions of the area help keep the alcohol a degree or so lower, making this an elegant food friendly example of the variety. ($20)

(91) Stama Winery Zany Zin Old Vine Zinfandel (California). More bright than dark, more red fruit than black; there is plenty of spice, vanilla, and candied fruit throughout the long finish; very accessible; ready to enjoy now and over time. ($18)

(90) Calcareous Twisted Sisters Paso Robles Zinfandel 2009 (California). The nose of this rich zinfandel is filled with aromas of caramelized brown sugar and plum followed by concentrated flavors of blackberry, cherry, and chocolate. ($20)

(90) Calstar Lodi Old Vines Za-Za-Zinfandel 2007 (California). Lodi is to zinfandel as Napa is to cabernet, and this one is really special; big and bold with fruit jumping out of the glass; a little bigger than many Lodi zinfandels. ($17)

(90) Dry Creek Zinfandel 2009 (California). A more traditional style zin, with light tannins; the rich, deep black cherry and blueberry flavors linger on the palate. ($15)

(90) Kenwood Jack London Zinfandel 2008 (California). A serious zinfandel; well structured with layers of black cherry and brambleberry; toasty tannins enable it to hold up to a hefty meal like cassoulet or roast lamb. ($19)

(90) OZV Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2008 (California). Made from 50- to 100-year-old vines; robust, jammy raspberry and chocolate flavors. very soft mouthfeel and long, lingering finish. ($16)

(90) Predator Zinfandel 2009 (California). Rich ruby color with silky smooth tannins; a little bit of spice with notes of blackberry and vanilla in the finish. ($16)

(90) Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 (California). Aromas of ripe raspberries and blackberries are the big players in the flavor, joined by pepper and spice; juicy, full-bodied finish. ($12)

(90) Rancho Zabaco Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2009 (California). This bold, well-made zinfandel offers intense aromas and flavors of red and dark berries with a spicy edge; a good value. ($13)

(90) Sobon Hillside Zinfandel 2010 (California). A nice Amador County zinfandel, the Hillside Zinfandel is a throttled-back version of Sobon’€™s single-vineyard and old-vine bottlings; fine, ripe flavors of blackberry, blueberry and boysenberry with a hint of cherry and cranberry on the pleasingly tart finish; a good match with a variety of foods. ($11)

(89) Joel Gott Zinfandel 2008 (California). A zinfandel made for food; nice bright fruit on the mid-palate is rounded off with nice acidity and a full berry finish. ($18)

(89) Ferrari-Carano Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2008 (California). Deep purple in color with aromas of fresh blackberries, boysenberries and raspberries; thick, rich mouthfeel bursting with wild berry preserves and black cherry syrup delight and contrast with delicate tannins and notes of mocha, vanilla bean and toffee on the finish. ($22)

(89) Peirano Immortal Zin 2010 (California). Smooth with a nice core of wild berry and plum flavors that turns even more complex on the spicy, long finish; a nice value ($15)

(89) Baus Family Sonoma Mountain Private Reserve Zinfandel 2008 (California). The bouquet is zesty, almost hearty, with new wood notes, earth and ripe bush berry aromas tinted with savory spice nuance; medium-full, round and rich, there is a light cocoa note framing the palate and a bevy of ripe, almost gushy fruit, but it has plenty of acidity to keep it dry; moderate finish. ($15)

(89) Ironstone Reserve Lodi 2009 Zinfandel (California). The vines are aged 60-plus years and it shows in this deep, sultry zin; the brambly, earthy undertones are decorated by a beautiful plum-like fruitiness and a wonderfully balanced, chocolately oakiness that maintains the delicate albeit rich balance of this wine. ($17)

(89) Zinsane Lodi Zinfandel 2010 (California). Bright fruit on the nose and rich dark berry flavors make this zin a notable value. ($14)

(89) Coastline Paso Robles Zinfandel 2010 (California). A rich, full-bodied zinfandel with flavors of mocha, blackberry, cherry and just a hint of caramel on the finish. ($10)

(88) Forever Vineyards Lodi Zinfandel 2009 (California). This old vine zinfandel starts with aromas of fresh cherry and raspberry followed by flavors of plum, blackberry and just a hint of spice. ($9)

(88) Edmeades Zinfandel 2008 (California). A fine demonstration of Mendocino fruit, this is a beautifully complex zinfandel made from 50-year-old vines; dried figs and generous sour cherry fruit lead into savory anise undertones; though high in alcohol at 15.%, it’€™s a well-balanced wine with finesse. ($20)

(88) Dry Creek Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2008 (California). Jammy and zesty in the nose, and then traces of toffee and milk chocolate; zesty on the palate with good, bracing tannin making the fruit flavors take their time to unfold and lend some softness; a good finish. ($16)

(88) Valley of the Moon Sonoma Zinfandel 2008 (California). A deep ruby hue leads the way, with a nose of cedar, spice-box and lush boysenberry jam; 18 months in oak, lending vanilla flavors that meld into the fruit forward backbone of this fine wine. ($13)

(88) Four Vines Zinfandel 2009 (California). Plum aroma, followed by plum, spice and blackberry flavors; moderate to big tannins and a medium-long finish. ($11)

(88) Klinker Brick Lodi Zinfandel 2008(California). This is a classic Lodi zin; big, bold and brash with berry fruit popping out everywhere. ($20)

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