Hundreds of Zinfandel aficionados descended on ZAP’s Zinfandel Tasting Experience at the end of January to swirl, sip, taste, and celebrate Zinfandel’s bold and unpretentious spirit. The Zinfandel Experience is the largest single varietal tasting of its kind. The event was hosted by ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) who is dedicated to preserving the heritage of Zinfandel. ZAP produces many events, tours, cruises and partners with many of the wine industry’s leading organizations. This year marked the 24th Annual Zinfandel Tasting Experience, which took place in the beautiful San Francisco Presidio and the Four Seasons over 3 days, Jan. 29th-31st. With over 100 producers and wineries represented, I sought to find the top Zinfandel wines to share from both emerging and well-established producers.
Zinfandel lays it claim to fame in California. Every other well-known varietal carries it’s roots in Europe, which makes Zinfandel America’s heritage wine. There’s nothing that can quite describe the experience of meeting so many producers and wineries who love creating the best quality Zinfandel and are excited to share their stories and wine. From old vine Zin’s produced by over 100 year old vines to new Zin blends, I tasted just about every variety of Zin. And the winners are…
2012 Mira Flores Sierra Foothills Estate Zinfandel, El Dorado – Strong bursts of berry fruit with long finish of floral notes, minerality, and soft perfume. Elegant, surprising, and well-balanced. Mira Flores was an immediate knock out and memorable wine for it’s bold start and long lingering soft finish. El Dorado’s rugged, mountainous terrain is perfect for growing Zinfandel and it showed.This wine can be enjoyed with or without food. I loved its unpredictable floral bouquet.
2012 McNab Family Reserve Cononiah Zinfandel – Dense, bright fruit with hints of mocha, spice and toffee. Aged 18 months in new oak. *Also try the Estate Zin for only $18 a bottle.
2013 Ballentine Vineyards Block 9 Zinfandel (summer release) –Jammy and concentrated with raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and cocoa. One to watch out for!
2011 JR Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel – A classic blend of Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, Carignane, Mataro, with 1% Alicante Bouchet, Muscat Canelli, and Golden Chasselas. Ripe blackberry and plum with mocha and coffee with a long, lingering finish.
2012 Ridge Pagani Ranch Zinfandel – This perfect blend of Zinfandel, Alicante Bouschet and Mataro produces multi-layered deep garnet flavors of cherry fruit, minerals, and a long earthy finish. Good solid acidity and tannins. Can’t wait to see how this one develops in a few years!
2012 Ridge East Bench – A full-bodied Zin with ripe blackberry and black cherry flavors with baking spices. 2013 to be released soon!
Enjoy trying some of these great wines!