Zinfandel: Articles on the Zinfandel Red Wine Grape Varietal

Dry Creek Zinfandel: Foods to Pair with, and Meals that Call for, Dry Creek Zinfandel

Zinfandel—the grape Americans call their own. The story of Zinfandel mirrors the multicultural heritage of our country and the struggle of immigrants to make it in a new land. From white to red and sweet to dry, this is a grape that has been reinvented to suit the changing tastes of wine consumers across the country. Originally from Croatia, the grape showed up in the US with Italian immigrants in the 1800s (who called it, as it is still known today in Italy, Primitivo). More than a century later it was nearly extinct with vines ripped up in favor of international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. But the huge popularity of white Zin in the 1980s and 1990s saved the grape from obscurity and nowadays the finest expression of Zinfandel comes not from Croatia or Italy but from California where it is produced as a dry red wine that can be light bodied and chockfull of ripe fruit or rich and inky with high alcohol and port-like characteristics.

Wines to Go Buy This Week: "Comfort Wines" - A Zinfandel by Glenn Hawk and Tulip Hill's Cabepulciano (yeah you read that right)

I live in San Francisco and January weather here means 50 degrees and rain. Constant bone-chilling rain, or so it seems. And before the rest of America emails to remind me how good I have it and how freaking cold it is in New York or Ohio or whatever other frozen tundra they call home, I'm just gonna say that when you are cold, you are cold, and comfort food -and comfort wine- goes a long way towards warming your heart when Old Man Winter starts to have his way with you. So with this in mind, I bring you two comfort wines you should go buy this week.   

Glenn Hawk Zinfandel - I typically don't gravitate to Zinfandel. I associate Zins with "cocktail wines", that is, wines that are delicious for a few sips of a single glass but can be a bit too fruity and overwhelming for those of us who tend towards enjoying multiple glasses. So I don't recommend many Zinfandels simply because I don't drink many of them. Every once in a while I stumble back down the Zinfandel path and am reminded of how good the varietal can be. I recently tried the 2009 Glenn Hawk Zinfandel from Livermore Valley (just south of Napa in the shadow of Mt. Diablo).

Best Zinfandel (For the Money)

IntoWine.com asked our wine experts to recommend the best value Zinfandel.  Here are there top picks for a good bottle of Zinfandel at an affordable price point:

California Zinfandel Wine Vintage Chart

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California Zinfandel    
2010 88 D/H
2009 89 D/H
2008

Cosentino Winery

The Vibe: 

Housed in an ivy-covered, French-chateau styles stone building, the family owned Cosentino winery continues to produce a wide variety of wines. While zinfandel comprises much of the 70,000 case production, visitors to their just-north-of-Yountville tasting room can sidle up to the copper counter and try a pinot grigio, chardonnay, cab, sangiovese, pinot noir or merlot. Winemaker Mitch Consentino prides himself on producing a wide variety of artisanal wines using traditional methods.

Particularly good if you are seeking: 
  • Groups
  • Small, private events (e.g. wine/cheese pairings)
  • Those seeking to try several different varietals sourced from several different areas
Not good for: 
  • Tours
  • Weddings
  • Picnics
Known For: 
Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sangiovese
Pictures: 

Locations

7415 St. Helena Hwy
Yountville, CA 94599
United States
38° 24' 23.094" N, 122° 22' 9.5988" W
7415 St. Helena Hwy
Yountville, CA 94599
United States
38° 24' 23.094" N, 122° 22' 9.5988" W
Phone Number: 
7079441220

Dashe Cellars: Making Zinfandel in Oakland

The wine business is a fickle mistress. Winery owners and winemakers chase elusive scores, the public makes buying decisions based on movies, hype and price, and critics seem to applaud fruit laden, high octane wines. So where does that leave Dashe Cellars in Oakland, CA? Right where they want to be.

Jessup Cellars

The Vibe: 

Just up the street from the French Laundry, in the quaint Napa town of Yountville, Jessup Cellars sits in a modest strip. The winery’s namesake, Mark Jessup, spent years as a winemaker for Robert Mondavi, and was the first winemaker of Opus One. Today, you can try his own Bordeaux blend (Table for Four), zinfandel, merlot and chardonnay in a cozy venue. In addition to his wines, gourmet olive oil and works by artist Edmund Ian Grant are available for sale in the tasting room.

Particularly good if you are seeking: 
  • Jessup wines
  • Small, private tastings

 

Not good for: 
  • Large groups/buses
  • Tours
  • Weddings
  • Picnics
Known For: 
Table for Four (Bordeaux Blend), Zin, Merlot, Chardonnay
Pictures: 

Locations

6740 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
United States
38° 24' 21.6036" N, 122° 21' 59.6268" W
6740 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
United States
38° 24' 21.6036" N, 122° 21' 59.6268" W
Phone Number: 
7079448523

Battaglini Winery & Vineyard

The Vibe: 

Battaglini is an intimate winery along the Russian River Valley in Santa Rosa. Tastings take place on a drop-in basis, in a casual farmhouse, and are usually personally conducted by the vineyard's Lucca-born owner Joe Battaglini.  Battaglini has been making wine here since 1950, although the Zinfandel and Petite Sirah vines were planted in 1885.  The winery produces three varietals; Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Chardonnay.

While daily tours are not formally scheduled, the winery does open its facilities to the public for special events, such as their "Stomp Event" day, where guests get a chance to jump in and participate hands-on in the winemaking process.

Note: visitors can easily drive past the winery's small sign.

Particularly good if you are seeking: 
  • One-on-one contact with experienced winemakers
  • "Hidden gem" atmosphere
  • Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel
  • Not good for: 
  • Formal setting
  • Art & architecture
  • Gardens
  • Guided tours
  • Private events or large groups
  • Picnics or dining
  • Known For: 
    Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay
    Pictures: 
    Battaglini Winery
    Battaglini Winery
    Battaglini Winery

    Location

    2948 Piner Rd.
    Santa Rosa, CA 95401
    United States
    38° 28' 1.7652" N, 122° 48' 3.5064" W
    Phone Number: 
    7075784091
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