Gems in My Glass . . . January 2012

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Tasting Notes, Zinfandel

It’s time for ZIN!

Thouands of Zinfandel producers and fans descended upon The Concourse Exhibition Center in SF this month at the annual ZAP Festival (, sniffing, swirling and sipping this juicy, fruit forward variety. A wine for all palates, Zinfandel is produced in styles spanning a range from soft and elegant, to spicy and richly fruited, to dense, inky black concentrated dark fruit that stains the palate, lip-smackingly good!

Here are just a few of my favorites:

Scott Harvey Wines 2008 1869 Zinfandel: Cinnamon and juicy fruit aromas set the stage for this opulent, well structured Zin from Amador County – a Zin that really expresses the sense of place. The lush and dense black fruit is bright and juicy, and simply dances on the palate with mocha, baking spices and subtle oak notes lingering deliciously through the long finish; complex with good aging potential.

Scott Harvey Wines 2008 Amador County Zinfandel, Amador: A terrific easy-to-quaff wine that vividly screams Zinfandel. From its aromas of blackberry and boysenberry preserves to the forward, mouthwatering berry packed fruitiness joining vanilla and nutmeg spice and cherry cola accents, this Zinfandel delightfully pleases the palate.

Mara 2006 Dolinsek Zinfandel, Russian RiverValley: Enticing spice and dark berry aromas lift from the glass and hold firmly through the luscious, dark berry, bing cherry, plummy mouth filling palate. Accents of freshly cracked black pepper, bittersweet chocolate and a deft touch of toasty oak add further dimensions of complexity. A sophisticated Zinfandel with impressive length, depth and structure; delicious now, and ageworthy too.

Mara 2006 Luvisi Zinfandel; Napa Valley: Inviting aromas of black cherries and a touch of creosote greet the nose and continue to broaden on the palate, intermingling attractively with flavors of wild berries, black raspberries, licorice root, nutmeg and ginger spice. Precisely balanced and nicely textured, with a finish that is lifted, bright and clean.

Mauritson Family Winery 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel: Lovely purity here with lilac notes amidst nicely ripened blackberry and huckleberry aromas. On the palate, the bright berry flavors meld harmoniously with baking spices, all wrapped around pretty, well integrated oak notes. Layered and juicy with nice balance and finesse, and a persistent lingering finish.

Kenneth Volk Vineyards 2007 Zinfandel, Paso Robles: A slice of warm blackberry pie embraces the senses with this fruit dominant, succulent Zin. Rich and ripe without being over the top, and a complimentary mix of baking spices weaves attractively through the plump fruit. Generous, pleasing and easy to quaff.

Brown Estate 2010 Napa Valley Estate Zinfandel, Napa Valley: Alluring and pure from the floral and fresh blackberry and wild berry aromas through the plush and rich mouth coating blackberry and black raspberry decadence on the palate. Juicy and complex with plenty of freshly cracked multi-colored pepper spice and meshing beautifully with the sumptuous fruit.

B. R. Cohn Winery 2009 Sonoma Valley Zinfandel, Sonoma County: Black cherry aromas jump from the glass and remain juicy and consistent on the palate melding with ripe plum and blackberry flavors and a touch of pepper at the core. Round and full bodied with good acdity; there is a pretty elegance about this Zin.

Gamba Vineyards and Winery 2009 Moratto Vineyard Zinfandel, Russian River Valley: A bowlful of spice infused fresh berries awakens the senses and broadens richly on the palate with ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit taking center stage, and a swirl of caramel topping the pretty fruit. Dense, bold and full bodied with good structure; approachable now, with more promise ahead.

Hartford Family Winery 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel, Russian River Valley: Abundant spice and bright berry notes waft from the glass and the juicy huckleberry and blackberry flavors remain expressive and consistent through the generously fruity palate. This beautifully crafted Zin is well balanced and belies its 15% plus alcohol level.

Sbraggia Family Vineyards 2009 La Promessa Vineyard Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley: Evocative aromas of anise, pepper spice and deep, dark fruit wow the nose and the bountiful rich berry and black cherry fruit, savory spice, and bittersweet chocolate flavors are lively and dazzling on the palate. Balanced and fresh with a nice purity about it, finishes with pleasing touch of oak.