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Zinfandel

Learn about Zinfandel — taste profile, popular regions and more ...

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Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel is often thought of as California’s flagship grape. In fact it owns this title by having the ability to adapt to the states’ many microclimates and landscapes, producing unique expressions of the grape throughout. Zinfandel thrives in California’s Central Coast, as well throughout Sonoma County, parts of Napa Valley, the Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Paso Robles.

Zinfandel's story begins in Croatia in the 1400s when it went by the names, Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski. In the 1700s, it made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. The astute imperial nursery of Vienna collected specimens of the vine and acted as the source of its journey to New England, carried by George Gibbs circa 1829. Eventually, making its way to California around the Gold Rush of 1849, Zinfandel found its new home, parading the true American spirit. The modern spelling of Zinfandel first appeared in 1852 and became standard about a decade later.

Tasting Notes for Zinfandel

Zinfandel is a dry red wine, though typically forward in fruit. Notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, dark chocolate and licorice are common. Very ripe examples may express a dried fruit quakity like fig or prune. But Zinfandel grown in cooler, coastal zones often shows red fruit, black pepper and fresh herbal characteristics like juniper and menthol.

Perfect Food Pairings for Zinfandel

Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs or anything barbecued. More delicate Zins work with pork, lamb curry and even Ceasar Salad or Salad Nicoise.

Sommelier Secrets for Zinfandel

Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding, ancient vines tend to produce wine that is deeply concentrated, delicately perfumed and decidedly complex.

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  • A. Rafanelli Dry Creek Zinfandel 1993 Front Label
    A. Rafanelli Dry Creek Zinfandel 1993
    Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
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  • Sonoma Creek Old Vines Zinfandel Sonoma 1993
    Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
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    • Lytton Springs Winery Zinfandel (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1993  Front Label
      Lytton Springs Winery Zinfandel (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1993
      Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
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      • Montevina Zinfandel 1993 Front Label
        Montevina Zinfandel 1993
        Zinfandel from Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
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        • Franciscan Estate Zinfandel 1993 Front Label
          Franciscan Estate Zinfandel 1993
          Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
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          • Ridge Lytton Estate Zinfandel 1993  Front Label
            Ridge Lytton Estate Zinfandel 1993
            Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
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