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Zinfandel Wine

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. Small quantities of Zinfandel grapes grow in countries as disparate as Mexico, Israel, South Africa, Canada, and Australia. Washington and Oregon produce Zinfandel grapes as well. In Croatia, production increased dramatically in 2001 once the news hit of the connection with Zinfandel grapes and Primitivo. From an early discovery of 22 vines, there are now more than 200,000. In Puglia about 10,000 acres exist. In California, Zinfandel is the second most-planted red grape, after Cabernet Sauvignon, with more than 50,000 acres, and it has been around since the 1850’s at least.

Zinfandel History

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 quality 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. California versions often show blueberry, raspberry, boysenberry, and peach yogurt flavors. Pepper, spice and a brambly character commonly make an appearance as well.

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 Caesar 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. Old to very old Zinfandel grape vines are prized, even though they produce smaller amounts of fruit. The wines made from such gnarly old stumps are avidly sought after. Whatever you call it, Zinfandel is a wine worth exploring.

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  • Carlisle Napa Valley Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
    Carlisle Napa Valley Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel 2011
    Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
    • WS93
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  • Turley Dusi Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
    Turley Dusi Zinfandel 2011
    Zinfandel from Central Coast, California
    • WS95
    • RP93
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  • Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
    Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel 2011
    Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
    • W&S93
    • WE91
    3.8 7 Ratings
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  • GEN5 Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
    GEN5 Zinfandel 2011
    Zinfandel from Lodi, California
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    • Turley Pesenti Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
      Turley Pesenti Zinfandel 2011
      Zinfandel from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
      • WE93
      • RP93
      • WS93
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    • Turley Dragon Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
      Turley Dragon Zinfandel 2011
      Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
      • WS94
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    • XYZin Old Vine Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
      XYZin Old Vine Zinfandel 2011
      Zinfandel from California
      • WS89
      4.2 6 Ratings
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      Currently Unavailable $17.99
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    • Martinelli Vellutini Ranch Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
      Martinelli Vellutini Ranch Zinfandel 2011
      Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
      • WS91
      • RP90
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      64 99
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    • LangeTwins Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
      LangeTwins Zinfandel 2011
      Zinfandel from California
        3.8 10 Ratings
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      • Moss Roxx Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
        Moss Roxx Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2011
        Zinfandel from Lodi, California
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        • Ravenswood Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
          Ravenswood Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel 2011
          Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
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          • LangeTwins Lewis Vineyard Centennial Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
            LangeTwins Lewis Vineyard Centennial Zinfandel 2011
            Zinfandel from Lodi, California
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              59 99
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            • Mountain View Winery Clockspring Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
              Mountain View Winery Clockspring Zinfandel 2011
              Zinfandel from Sierra Foothills, California
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                16 99
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              • Storybook Mountain Mayacamas Range Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                Storybook Mountain Mayacamas Range Zinfandel 2011
                Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
                • W&S93
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                Currently Unavailable $39.99
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                39 99
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              • Murphy-Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                Murphy-Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandel 2011
                Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
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                • Zinfandelic Sierra Foothills Old Vine Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                  Zinfandelic Sierra Foothills Old Vine Zinfandel 2011
                  Zinfandel from Sierra Foothills, California
                    5.0 8 Ratings
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                    19 99
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                  • Saucelito Canyon Estate Reserve Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                    Saucelito Canyon Estate Reserve Zinfandel 2011
                    Zinfandel from Central Coast, California
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                    • Frog's Leap Zinfandel (3 Liter Bottle) 2011 Front Label
                      Frog's Leap Zinfandel (3 Liter Bottle) 2011
                      Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
                      • W&S91
                      0.0 0 Ratings
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                    • Williams Selyem Bacigalupi Vineyard Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                      Williams Selyem Bacigalupi Vineyard Zinfandel 2011
                      Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
                      • WE94
                      • WS92
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                      68 99
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                    • Saxon Brown Stonewall Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                      Saxon Brown Stonewall Zinfandel 2011
                      Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
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                      • DeLoach Forgotten Vines Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                        DeLoach Forgotten Vines Zinfandel 2011
                        Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
                        • WE90
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                      • Frog's Leap Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                        Frog's Leap Zinfandel 2011
                        Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
                        • W&S91
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                      • Chateau Montelena Estate Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                        Chateau Montelena Estate Zinfandel 2011
                        Zinfandel from Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
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                        • Cellar No. 8 Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                          Cellar No. 8 Zinfandel 2011
                          Zinfandel from North Coast, California
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                          • Hartford Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel 2011 Front Label
                            Hartford Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel 2011
                            Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
                            • WE91
                            • WS90
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                            Currently Unavailable $47.99
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                            55
                            47 99
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