Learn about Zinfandel — taste profile, popular regions and more ...
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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Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from California
Kunde Estate Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Bogle Old Vines Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Sierra Foothills, California
Kenwood Sonoma Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Bonny Doon Cardinal Zin 2002Zinfandel from Central Coast, California
Gary Farrell Dry Creek Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
Turley Dogtown Vineyard Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Lodi, California
Turley Dragon Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
Sobon Estate Old Vines Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Sierra Foothills, California
Camelot Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from California
Clos LaChance El Dorado Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Sierra Foothills, California
Turley Rattlesnake Ridge Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
Turley Duarte Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Central Coast, California
Turley Dusi Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Central Coast, California
Zingaro Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from California
Outpost Howell Mountain Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
Rosenblum Cellars Harris-Kratka Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Central Coast, California
Villa Mt. Eden Grand Reserve Mead Ranch Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
Limerick Lane Collins Vineyard Zinfandel 2002Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California