Beverage Dynamics Retailer Wine Selections: Zinfandels

For this issue, we asked members of the Beverage Dynamics National Retailer Wine Panel to recommend some of their favorite zinfandels. 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) Louis M. Martini, Monte Rosso Vineyard Gnarly Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). The Monte Rosso vineyard is one of the most storied in Sonoma County, with vines over 100 years old; the rich flavors and plush tannins are a testament to the quality of the fruit these vines provide; large quantities of black fruit dominate the nose, with subtle hints of vanilla and spice; the wine is rich and dense on the palate, with a lingering balanced finish. ($50)

(94) Terra d’€™Oro Deaver Vineyard Zinfandel 2009 (California). These 100-plus year-old vines produce an enormous and concentrated Zinfandel; the heavy berry and cassis aromas are followed by a rich and savory explosion of fruit; this wine will take a couple of hours to open and start to release its fruit. ($29)

(94) Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel 2010 (California). A rich, jammy nose that is the trademark of the Benito Dusi vineyard; on the palate there’€™s a bright acidity and great balance with the dark fruit and white pepper. ($33)

(94) Girard Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). The 2010 vintage is fuller-bodied than previous vintages; petite sirah helps present a dark ruby color; the aromas offer dark chocolate covered cherries, lush blueberries and ripe plums; winter spices and underlying layers of mocha round out this powerful wine; tannins present a soft structure and are well integrated in the wine. ($32)

(94) Ravenswood Belloni Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2009 (California). The old vines contribute exceptional depth of fruit, while maintaining elegance and polish; one-quarter mixed varieties such as petite sirah, carignane, and alicante add to the complexity and richness on the palate; the nose and palate share aspects of brambly black fruit; the 20 months of barrel aging add hints of spice, tobacco and coffee. ($35)

(93) Brown Napa Valley Zinfandel 2010 (Calfornia). Flowery, spicy aroma; blackberry, cherry, cinnamon, cedar; large tannins; long finish. ($39)

(93) Peter Franus Brandlin Vineyard Zinfandel 2008 (California). Incredible, small production zinfandel from 85-year-old vines in Napa; deep ruby color with real structure that delivers all the blueberries, chocolate, pepper and cinnamon you would want from a top notch zinfandel. ($35)

(93) Graziano Redwood Valley Kazmet Vineyard Zinfandel 2009 (California). From 40-plus-year-old vines in one of Mendocino’€™s prized zin properties, this is one of Greg Graziano’€™s best wines; well structured and complex with rich, spicy black fruit aromas and flavors balanced with firm tannins; nice now, and lots of potential for cellaring. ($27)

(93) Saxon Brown Sonoma Casa Santinamaria Vineyard Zinfandel 2007 (California). Two years in French oak took none of the acidity out of this wine; well balanced throughout, bright fruit and beautiful purple color. ($30)

(93) Brutocao Family Vineyards Hopland Ranches Mendocino Classic Zinfandel 2009 (California). Pretty deep purple color, ripe red cherry notes; fruity but full and dry; hints of mocha and toast; earthy notes and spice in the mid palate; smooth, generous tannins in this harmonized wine. ($21)

(93) Sivas-Sonoma Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). Sourcing from the new hot spot for premium zins, the Russian River Valley, this is wine of restraint, with more natural acidity and freshness than its Dry Creek counterparts; jammy black raspberry fruit combines with the classic baking spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and brown sugar. ($35)

(93) Uvaggio Primitivo 2010 (California). From Lodi; if primitivo is believed to be the parent of zinfandel, this will eliminate all doubt; spicy, not-quite-jammy, sweet/tart on the palate with soft tannins on the finish. ($20)

(93) Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2010 (California). A wonderful zinfandel offering rich flavors of blackberry, blueberry, plum, chocolate and spice; well-balanced with a delicious, long second finish. ($19)

(92) Paraduxx Z 2009 (California). This gorgeous zin blend shows deep garnet in the glass; complex aromas and taste of deep earthy bramble and vanilla cream spice; lush texture, tannic backbone rounded by full, ripe fruit finish. ($48)

(92) JC Cellars The Imposter 2010 (California). Deep in color and aromas; aspberry, chocolate and flowers on the palate lead to a lingering, balanced and elegant finish. ($40)

(92) Ravenswood Barrica Vineyard Sonoma Zinfandel 2010 (California). Back fruit nose; raspberry and blackberry flavor; substantial tannins; long finish. ($35)

(92) Ballentine Vineyards Zinfandel 2009 (California). Blueberries on the nose and palate followed by vanilla and clove spice; fine-grained tannins on the finish; great value for a Napa appellation. ($25)

(92) Nalle Dry Creek Zinfandel 2008 (California). A traditional old-style zin with mouth-filling bramble and balanced alcohol; rich black raspberry and purple plum; not for the faint of heart; pair with a thick steak. ($32)

(92) Puccioni Dry Creek Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 (California). Great Dry Creek Valley character; wild berries and cherries are noted in the beautiful dark fruits; accompanied by spice and cedar notes; good spice intensity. ($25)

(92) Green & Red Vineyards Napa Valley Chilies Canyon Vineyard Zinfandel 2009 (California). Year to year, this wine is consistent in flavor, body and depth; a no-fail wine that pleases every time. ($27)

(92) Hendry Blocks 7 & 22 Napa Valley Zinfandel 2010 (California). Restrained, concentrated raspberries on the palate with light spice; nice acidity makes this food-friendly. ($33)

(92) Moibus Alexander Valley Zinfandel 2009 (California). Alexander Valley produces very fruit forward wines, and this wine over-delivers; rich raspberry and blackberry fruit married with gentle tannins; almost like chocolate-covered cherries in a glass; great wine to pair with BBQ. ($25)

(92) Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Zinfandel 2009 (California). A blend of 87% zinfandel and 13% petite sirah; distinctive jammy characters; aromas of raspberry and red berry; on the palate, the wine exhibits denser elements of blackberry, anise and pepper, finishing with a smooth and balanced finish; at only 13.5% alcohol, this is a sophisticated zinfandel with old world character and charm. ($20)

(92) Quivira Dry Creek Zinfandel 2010 (California). Dry Creek is sometimes seen as the benchmark region for producing quality zinfandels, and this wine does not disappoint; dark in the glass, with purple hints; the nose is filled with berry and spiced plum, with notes of vanilla; on the palate, the rich fruit is balanced by the acidity, with dark fruit and balanced tannins. ($22)

(92) Charles Krug St. Helena Napa Valley Zinfandel 2008 (California). From one of the pioneers of wine production in Napa Valley, this zinfandel has a dark ruby color, and lovely focus on the nose and palate; plenty of berry and cherry are complemented by brown spice and hints of vanilla; he palate is supple, and the finish is long and balanced. ($25)

FOUR STARS

(91) Frog’€™s Leap Napa Valley Zinfandel 2010 (California). A classic zinfandel profile with a velvety mouthfeel and well rounded acidity; the texture and fruit roll over the mid-palate creating a silky, berry finish; great food wine. ($27)

(91) Bonterra Mendocino County Zinfandel 2010 (California). Produced from organically grown grapes, this wine is elegant and bright; the color is a dense ruby with purple notes; the nose is scented with bright berry, plum, and peppery notes; the flavors are bright and clean, with the intense fruit and barrel aging contributing to the long and balanced finish. ($16)

(91) Triusco Primitivo 2009 (Italy). This primitivo, from the southern tip of Italy, combines rich fruit with an acid-driven finesse, providing a balanced, high quality wine; the nose is brighter, and more fruit driven than most of its American cousins; six months in barrel provide a hint of spice and texture, adding to the complexity of the wine. ($20)

(91) OZV Lodi Zinfandel 2009 (California). A nose of blueberries and chocolate lead to flavors of raspberry jam; extremely well balanced with a pleasant lingering finish. ($18)

(91) Predator Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). Aromas of chocolate and berries; body is fruity and full with a finish of mocha, raspberry and spice; from Rutherford Wines in Lodi. ($15)

(91) Joel Gott Zinfandel 2010 (California). A spicy, dry, dark style zinfandel; never to jammy, never to sweet; displays dark wild berry, spicy pepper, zingy cinnamon, and finishes with hints of mint and well-integrated tannins; great with roasted red meats, or just about anything grilled. ($16)

(91) Ca’€™ Momi Napa Valley Zinfandel 2010 (California). Deep, dark red color, rich and oppulent notes of red fruits and dark cherries, layers of sweet raspberry and currant notes; great middle and finish. ($13)

(91) Tramanto Russian River Sonoma Zinfandel 2009 (California). The average vine age is over 80 years, and the cool climate showcases the rich dark fruit with a touch of spice; hints of dark chocolate, blackberries and wild strawberries; elegant finish with a lighter style of alcohol. ($40)

(90) Plungerhead 2010 Zinfandel (California). A fun wine with an easy to open ‘€œcork’€ that releases lots of yummy, ripe, easy-drinking blueberry and raspberry fruits; smooth; try with BBQ ribs or burgers. ($13)

(90) Bogle Old Vine 2009 Zinfandel (California). A consistent performer every year; medium bodied with hints of spice and vanilla; nice black raspberry fruits; try with grilled meats and veggies. ($13)

(90) Starry Night Alexander Valley Zinfandel 2008 (California). Classic aromas of lilac and wildflowers leading to zesty blackberry and briary flavors; some toasty oak flavors on the finish with a subtle hint of Alexander Valley’€™s volcanic soil. ($20)

(90) Scott Harvey Mountain Selection Zinfandel Amador County 2010 (California). Concentrated flavors of currants, blackberry, and cloves coat the palate and linger with supple tannins; a hint of dark-roast coffee shows on the finish. ($20)

(90) Foxglove Paso Robles Zinfandel 2009 (California). A beautifully balanced wine with controlled berry and spice flavors; the tannins and acidity are very controlled throughout allowing the fruit to take center stage. ($15)

(90) Bramblewood Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel 2011 (California). A classic style zinfandel with beautiful flavors of black cherry, blackberry, cocoa and crack pepper on a long, lingering finish. ($14)

(90) Shooting Star Mendocino Zinfandel 2008 (California). Jed Steele, the original winemaker for Kendall-Jackson, has a full line of wines sourced from prime sites all over California; this is his value tier, sourced primarily from Lake County; simple in style, using younger grapes to produce a lighter, less tannic style, it offers hints of cherry, plum, raspberries, along with cinnamon, nutmeg, and white pepper. ($20)

(90) Kinneybrook Sonoma Zinfandel 2011 (California). Pepper and spice flavors mingle with nice luscious, dark berry fruits, layered by toasty vanilla; firm tannins giving structure through to the finish. ($18)

(90) The Fugitive Dry Creek Zinfandel Red 2011 (California). Blueberry and blackberry aromas are followed by ripe jammy preserve flavors; layers of spice and mocha enveloping the fruit nicely; firm tannins and good balance to finish. ($25)

(90) St Francis Sonoma Old Vines Zinfandel 2009 (California). A classic zinfandel; aromas of cigar box and spice; flavors of black cherry and vanilla with a juicy finish and a touch of Sonoma spice. ($18)

(90) Bianchi Heritage Selection Zinfandel 2009 (California). Aromas of jam and berries followed by earthy notes and vanilla; oak and spice on the finish; noteworthy value for zinfandel ($20).

(90) Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). A zesty wine, loaded with dark berry, ripe plum, raspberry and herb flavors; layers of spice, vanilla and oak on a well-balanced finish. ($11)

(89) Gauthier Los Chamizal Vineyard Sonoma Zinfandel 2011 (California). This new addition to the Gauthier portfolio features a black cherry and loam nose; lightly complex, well balanced with classic cherry pie and white pepper; will improve as it develops in the bottle. ($30)

(89) Rancho Zabaco Reserve Dry Creek Valley, Zinfandel 2007 (California). Let this one breathe an hour or so; the tannins and acid are still tight, and the body a bit light, but the blackberry fruit and cedar aromas make for a pleasant sipper. ($19)

(89) Folie a Deux, Amador County Zinfandel 2008 (California). Dry cherry fruit is solid, not overly extracted, with a medium body; smooth briary tannins, subtle oak vanilla, and crisp acidity; good value. ($17)

(89) Edmeades Mendocino Zinfandel 2009 (California). Loaded with aromas of red cherry and vanilla; layered fruit; a soft finish with a touch of spice; syrah and petite syrah were added to provide a nice structure. ($18)

(89) Cloud Break California Zinfandel NV (California). Good easy drinking value zinfandel; jammy, dark berry fruits and a light layer of spiciness; a back note of toasty sweet vanilla to follow the juicy characteristics. ($10)

(89) Orleans Hill Organic Zinfandel 2010 (California). Nice aroma with flavors of cherry and juicy blueberries; dry tannic mouth-feel and finish. ($12)

(88) Brazin Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel 2009 (California). Cherry and plum aromas; plum, blackberry, hint of chocolate; nice tannins; medium-long finish. ($16)

(88) Hullabaloo Lodi Zinfandel 2010 (California). Licorice and cracked pepper on the nose, followed by blueberry and raspberry on the palate and spice on the finish. ($15)

(88) Delta Luna Lodi Zinfandel 2008 (California). Red licorice and pepper on the nose; flavors of cherry, blueberry and smoky blackberry; more chewy than the light appearance would suggest, with a zippy peppery finish. ($11)

(87) Rex Goliath Zinfandel N.V. (California). An affordable beginner zin and great for a big crowd; light and easy on the palate; pleasant sweet tones of ripe raspberry. ($5)

(86) Artizen Mendocino Zinfandel 2010 (California). Nose of plum and briars; blackberry, cherry and briar flavors; medium tannins; medium finish. ($15)

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