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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Lake Sonoma Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
Zinfandelic Amador County Old Vine Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Sierra Foothills, California
Valley of the Moon Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Turley Old Vines Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from California
DeLoach Russian River Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from California
Four Vines Biker Paso Robles Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Turley Fredericks Vineyard Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
Mietz Cellars Dry Creek Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
Williams Selyem Forchini Vineyard South Knoll Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
Williams Selyem Forchini Vineyard North Flats Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
Turley Rattlesnake Ridge Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
Sausal Winery Family Old Vine Estate Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Decoy Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Cline Zinfandel 2009Zinfandel from California