California Zinfandel 2016
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California Zinfandel - 2016

The Fifty Best California Zinfandel Tasting of 2016

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 25 recent release California Zinfandels with 14 members of our wine judging panel. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the wines were poured into fresh wine glasses from new sealed bottles and served at room temperature. Only ice water and white peasant bread were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each wine on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded based on a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded for this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The appelations are identified for each brand. Prices indicated do not include tax.



DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Peachy Canyon
Mustang Springs 2013 Zinfandel

(Paso Robles, Adelaida District) $38

Produced from hand-harvested Zinfandel grapes (95%) from Mustard Springs Ranch, and Petite Sirah (5%) from Solano Farms, this wine was aged in a combination of French, Hungarian and American oak barrels for 14 months following fermentation.

Aroma: Plum, concentrated cherry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, dried cherry, cola, cocoa, chocolate, spicy, black pepper, anise, mint, menthol, leather, mineral, woody, dusky, earthy, port-like.
Palate: Strawberry, black plum, black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, red stone fruit, stewed plums, plummy, jammy, violet, floral, black pepper, licorice, dark chocolate, smoke, port-like, balanced, great body.
Finish: Berry, long lasting spice, flavorful, pleasant, medium tannins, well balanced, jammy, creamy softness.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Peachy Canyon 2013 Mustang Springs 2013 Zinfandel

 



Romililly
2013 Zinfandel, Monte Rosso Vineyard,
Moon Mountain District

(Sonoma) $43

The grapes for this 100% Zinfandel were from Monte Rosso Vineyard, located in the Mayacamas Mountains and noted for red (iron oxide) soil. Following early morning harvest and hand sorting the wine was fermented and then aged in 2-3 year-old French oak for 16 months before bottling.

Aroma: Red cherry, dark cherry, black cherry, raspberry, blackberry, dark berry, orange peel, citrus, blackcurrant, raisin, floral, violet, herbal, sage, chocolate, woody, slight mustiness, earthy, barnyard.
Palate: Red cherry, plum, apricot, cranberry, strawberry, raspberry, red berry, blackberry, blueberry, citrus, currant, tart red fruit, jammy, white pepper, cigar box, mineral, sea salt, oak, well balanced.
Finish: Lingering blueberry, plum, spice, tea leaf, strong tannins, big, balanced fruit, smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Romililly 2013 Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard Moon Mountain District



Peachy Canyon
Snow 2013 Zinfandel

(Paso Robles, Adelaida District) $38

Hand sorted Zinfandel grapes from a 30-year-old vineyard in the northern area of the Adelaida District were blended with 4% Petite Sirah. After fermentation the wine was aged in French and Hungarian oak barrels for 14 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Dark plum, cherry, black cherry, strawberry, black raspberry, dark berry, black fruit, currant, jammy, prune, rose, sweet herbs, herbal, mint, cinnamon, chocolate, cocoa, creamy, toasted oak, smoke, dusky, big zin nose.
Palate: Plum, jammy raspberry, blackberry, cranberry, currant, cherry, dried cherry, raisin, spice, pepper, mineral, clay, intense, bold flavor, soft tannins, very pleasant.
Finish: Cherry, white pepper spicy, toasted oak, strong tannins, hint of smoke, dinner wine.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Peachy Canyon Snow Zinfandel



Macauley
2013 Old Vine Zinfandel

(Napa Valley) $40

This blend of “old vine” Zinfandel (92%) and Petite Sirah (8%) was aged in oak for 16 months after fermentation.

Aroma: Sweet plum, cranberry, blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry, currant, black fruit, raisin, cream, cocoa, herb, spice, nutmeg, menthol, stone, saddle, oak.
Palate: Plum, sour cherry, cranberry, blueberry, sweetish black fruit, stewed herbal plums, currant, fig, dried fruit, pepper, cacao, earth, oak, sweet tannin, clean, round, great with barbecue, good structure.
Finish: Blueberry, blackberry, cherry pie, fig, cocoa, very rich, juicy, lingering spice, varietally correct, melting tannins, optimal, delicious.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Macauley 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel

 



Pedroncelli
2013 Mother Clone Zinfandel

(Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma)

The zinfandel grapes for this wine were hand-picked primarily from vines aged over 100 years old. Following temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine was aged in American oak barrels for 13 months – with the addition of 6% Petite Sirah prior to bottling.

Aroma: Raspberry, black raspberry, black cherry, blackberry, plum, black fruit, blueberry jam, dried cherry, herbal, herbal tea, anise, pepper, licorice, spice, cocoa, tobacco, wood, smoke, earthy, cool climate AVA.
Palate: Raspberry, delicious berry fruit, cherry, cranberry, plum, currant, jammy, juicy, red pepper, mild spice, black pepper, licorice, mineral, medium tannins, excellent balance, perfect balance, elegant.
Finish: Cherry, cranberry, dark plum, blackberry, cocoa, licorice, spicy, toasted oak, nice tannins, complex, elegant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Pedroncelli 2013 Mother Clone Zinfandel



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Andis
2012 Estate Zinfandel

(Amador County) $28

Zinfandel grapes for this wine primarily hailed from two Shenondoah Valley vineyards (Wilderotter and Distasio). Also added to the final blend were Zinfandel from the Andis Estate and 10% Petite Sirah.

Aroma: Cherry, Maraschino cherry, black cherry, cranberry, jammy raspberry, red plum, black fruit, blueberry, herbs, mint, anise, black pepper, pumpkin spice, cocoa, toasted oak, earthy, smoky.
Palate: Red berry, sweet plum, cranberry, blueberry, blackberry, briar fruit, dried cherry, cola, cocoa, licorice, herbal, spice, cinnamon, allspice, American oak, smoke, smooth, nice balance, good tannins, firm tannins, can be paired with red meat.
Finish: Jammy fruit with vanilla, clean and fresh, spicy, aperitif, smooth, complex, elegant, spectacular experience.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Andis 2012 Estate Zinfandel





Rock Wall
2014 Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel

(Sonoma) $50

Grapes for this 100% Zinfandel wine were sourced from super-gnarly over-100 year-old vines in the Monte Roso Vineyard, located on the southern side of the Mayacamas mountain range. After fermentation, the wine was aged in 40% new and 60% neutral French oak before bottling.

Aroma: Raspberry, blackberry, black plum, black raspberry, stewed fruit, dried cherry, floral, herbaceous, sandalwood.
Palate: Plum, black plum, cherry, raspberry, blackberry, dark berry, cassis, cola, vegetal, clove, black pepper, dusty, soft fruit opening up, good structure, well balanced, slight tannins, should be paired with food, great wine with steak.
Finish: Chocolate, jammy, smoke, tannic, good structure, very well-made wine, good balance, delightful.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Rock Wall 2014 Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel





Oak Ridge Winery
Moss Roxx 2012 Ancient Vine Zinfandel

(Lodi) $20

Grapes for this blend of Zinfandel and Merlot came from vineyards over a century old that feature moss covered rocks and gravelly soil. Skin contact time is optimized for maximum color and flavor extraction.

Aroma: Raspberry, blackberry, dried currant, bramble, red pepper, intense spice, clove, anise, licorice, cocoa, heavy wood, toasted oak, earthy, big smoky nose.
Palate: Black plum, raspberry, bright cherry, dark cherry, sweet currant, black fruit, very fruity, dried cherry, cola, thyme, cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla, vanilla cream, sage, chocolate, oak, smoky, hearty tannins, big, round, mouth-filling.
Finish: Long lasting cherry, fruit bomb, fruit floating in vanilla, cinnamon, spice, licorice, chocolate, smoky, rich tannins, shows well.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Oak Ridge Winery Moss Roxx 2012 Ancient Vine Zinfandel




Peachy Canyon
Mustard Creek 2013 Zinfandel

(Paso Robles, Adelaida District) $38

Produced from hand-harvested Zinfandel grapes (95%) from Mustard Springs Ranch and Petite Sirah (5%) from Solano Farms, this wine was aged in a combination of French, Hungarian and American oak barrels for 14 months following fermentation.

Aroma: Cherry, dark cherry, raspberry, blackberry, dried fruit, floral, rose, violet, vegetal, black olive, herbal, soft vanilla, black pepper, cola, cigar box, oak.
Palate: Cherry, black cherry, cherry vanilla, dark plum, dark berry, blackberry, old vine fruit, raisin, spice, black pepper, licorice, toast, dry sherry, smoke, earthy.
Finish: Plum, raspberry, cherry, luxurious fruit, warm spice, pepper, BBQ, earthy, great finish.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Peachy Canyon Mustard Creek 2013 Zinfandel



Carol Shelton
2013 Wild Thing Old Vine Zinfandel

(Mendocino County) $19

This blend of sustainably farmed and organically grown grapes (80% “old vine” Zinfandel, 14% Carignane, 5% Petite Sirah and 1% Alicante Boushet) was fermented using “wild” yeast. The wine spent 10 months in a mix of American and French oak prior to bottling.

Aroma: Blackberry, blackberry jam, black raspberry, blueberry, red berries, cherry, dried cherry, deep briar fruit, raisin, soft vanilla, baking spice, slight herbal, chocolate, leather.
Palate: Plum, black plum, blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry, cherry, dark berry, good berry fruit, jammy, slight vanilla, baking spice, clove, red pepper, licorice, wood barrel, oak, silky, soft tannins, well-balanced, needs time, age-worthy.
Finish: Bright cherry, cranberry, black raspberry, tart, peppery, somewhat oaky, well balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Carol Shelton 2013 Wild Thing Old Vine Zinfandel



Heitz Cellar
2012 Zinfandel, Ink Grade Vineyard

(St. Helena) $27

Made from 100% Zinfandel grapes, this wine was fermented to dryness and aged for 2 years in French oak barrels prior to bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, cherry jam, raspberry, dark plum, herbal, lavender, baking spice, pepper, anise, mineral, dusty.
Palate: Cherry, black cherry, raspberry, blackberry, currant, cola, herbal, spice, mineral, earthy, good grip, structured tannins, decent balance.
Finish: Raspberry, dark cherry, tart, oak, earthy, smoky, great tannins, needs time.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Heitz Cellar 2012 Zinfandel Ink Grade Vineyard



Grgich Hills Estate
2012 Estate Grown Zinfandel

(Napa Valley)

Zinfandel grapes for this wine were sourced from the Grgich Hills Estate Vineyard, located above Calistoga and featuring gravelly loam soils and a northeast exposure – providing abundant morning sun but shaded from the hot afternoon sun. The grapes were co-fermented with 2% Petite Sirah and then aged in large French oak casks for 15 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, black cherry, cherry jam, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, ripe berry, plummy cranberry, currant, fig, raisin, vanilla, floral, lavender, herbal, sage.
Palate: Red plum, raspberry, blackberry, currant, cooked fruit, dense fruit, candied strawberry, maraschino cherry, cola, pepper, licorice, earth, good acidity, gripping, gentle well-structured tannins.
Finish: Plum, red fruit, cherry, fruit, floral, soft, chewy, flavorful.

Gold Medal
Gold medal




Grgich Hills Estate 2012 Estate Grown Zinfandel



Rock Wall
2013 Jesse’s Vineyard Zinfandel

(Contra Costa County) $30

Following fermentation, this 100% Zinfandel made from vines over 100 years old, was aged in new and neutral American and French oak before bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, deep black cherry, deep boysenberry, currant jam, dried fruit, slight herbal, spices, chocolate, graphite, dusty, bold, subtle earth, light smoke, great color.
Palate: Red plum, cherry, cherry jam, black fruit, blueberry, currant, fruity, dried fruit, spice, black pepper, mint, mineral, velvety, ripeness, dusty tannins, gentle tannins, full body, big, good structure, good balance, elegant.
Finish: Black fruit, blueberry, jammy, cocoa, well balanced, full-flavored tannins.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Rock Wall 2013 Jesse’s Vineyard Zinfandel



Maggio
2013 Old Vine Zinfandel

(Lodi)

Grapes included in the blend of Zinfandel and Carignane used for this wine were sustainably farmed on the prized Maggio Vineyard in Lodi.

Aroma: Black cherry, raspberry, blueberry, dark berry, red fruit, plummy, dried cherry, fig, plum pudding, raisin, cola, blossoms, sweet peppers, anise, black licorice, mint, eucalyptus, clove, sagebrush, earthy, wet stones, wood barrel, vibrant.
Palate: Cherry, cranberry, raspberry, blueberry, plum, red berry, jammy, bell pepper, spice, tobacco, earthy, wet stones, soft tannins, rich, soft.
Finish: Mushroom, jammy, flavorful, good balance, silky, hedonistic.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Maggio 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel



Carol Shelton
2013 Rocky Reserve Zinfandel,
Florence Vineyard

(Sonoma) $35

Grapes for this wine (86% Zinfandel and 14% Petite Sirah) were from the Florence Vineyard at 1400 feet above Lake Sonoma – noted for deep red rocky soils. Following “bin” fermentation, the wine was aged for 17 months in a combination of French (60%), American (30%) and new Hungarian oak (10%).

Aroma: Plum, cherry, cranberry, raspberry, currant, dried cherry, sun-dried plum, dried fruit, raisin, blossom, sweet herbs, herbal, baking spice, roasted coffee, toast, port-like.
Palate: Raspberry, strawberry, red plum, cranberry, cherry, deep black fruit, currant, dried cherry, jammy, cocoa, chocolate, licorice, herbal, spice, cinnamon, black pepper, earthy, big, bold, varietally correct, gentle tannins.
Finish: Raspberry, plum, blueberry, candied fruit, cocoa, light spice, mineral, tannic, good structure and length, balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Carol Shelton 2013 Rocky Reserve Zinfandel Florence Vineyard



Peachy Canyon
Westside 2013 Zinfandel

(Paso Robles) $22

This wine is a blend (77$ Zinfandel, 13% Petite Sirah, 6% Alicante Bouschet, 3% Syrah, 1% Tanat) sourced from vineyards on the west side of Paso Robles (primarily the Peachy Canyon Estate). Following fermentation, the wine was aged in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak barrels for 16 months before bottling.

Aroma: Raspberry, black cherry, black plum, deep briar fruit, grape compote, fig, dried cherry, floral, herb, oak spice, pepper, cocoa, coffee, earthy, clean, elegant.
Palate: Red and black plums, cherry, big red berry, raspberry, sweet black fruit, baked cherry, raisin, dried fruit, bay leaf, basil, mint, cocoa, wood, toasted flavors, smoke, port-like, smooth, balanced and structured, firm rich tannins.
Finish: Cherry, plum, raspberry, cocoa, light spice, flavorful, medium acidity, nice balance, varietally correct.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Peachy Canyon Westside 2013 Zinfandel



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS:

Balletto Vineyards
2012 Estate Grown Zinfandel

(Russian River Valley, Sonoma) $23

This wine was fashioned from grapes grown in the BCD vineyard located on the rolling hills that lead up to the Coastal Mountain range, noted for foggy nights and mornings and sandy-loam soil.

Aroma: Cherry, plum, raspberry, blackberry, dark fruit, mixed berry jam, dried cherry, plummy, herbal, cinnamon, mineral.
Palate: Cherry, blackberry, blueberry, jammy red fruit, fruit-forward, dried cherry, smoke, varietally correct, big.
Finish: Raspberry, mushroom, American oak, light acidity, big, jammy, juicy, soft tannins, fine varietal fruit, unique.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Balletto Vineyards 2012 Estate Grown Zinfandel



Rock Wall
2013 Chalk Hill Reserve Zinfandel

(Russian River Valley, Alameda) $40

The Zinfandel grapes used for this wine were organically grown on Windsor Oak Vineyards in the Chalk Hill area. Following co-fermentation with 2% Petite Sirah, the wine was aged for 2 years in a combination of American and French oak.

Aroma: Raspberry, raspberry jam, boysenberry, plum, cherry, black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, deep black fruit, floral, lavender, perfume, pepper, mint, sweet cream, baking spice, dusty cocoa, smoky.
Palate: Cherry, raspberry, blackberry, cranberry, briar fruit, dried cherry, cherry pie, jammy, cola, sweet herbal, coffee bean, spice, black pepper, anise, mint, licorice, decent acidity, good balance, smooth, varietally correct.
Finish: Dusty cocoa powder, toasted American oak, easy-drinking.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Rock Wall 2013 Chalk Hill Reserve Zinfandel



Guyomar Wine Cellars
2012 Oblate Zinfandel

(Paso Robles) $42

This wine was made from a rather unique blend of grapes (64% Zinfandel, 21% Grenache, 11% Petite Sirah and 4% Syrah) grown on vineyards about midway between San Fancisco and Los Angeles.

Aroma: Red plum, sweet cherry, raspberry, raspberry jam, blueberry, currant, floral, spice, mint, tobacco, tar, clean.
Palate: Bing cherry, cherry, raspberry jam, succulent berry jam, stewed fruit, black pepper, vanilla, licorice, tobacco, leather, mineral, toasted oak, smoke, big, assertive, slightly tannic, slight earthiness.
Finish: Plum, dark cherry, jammy, long, strong tannins, big, nice juicy finish.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Guyomar Wine Cellars 2012 Oblate Zinfandel



Fritz
2013 Estate Grown Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

(Sonoma) $25

This wine was produced from grapes grown on 8 acres of vines on the Fritz Estate Vineyards, nestled in the hills of Dry Creek Valley.

Aroma: Bing cherry, cherry, strawberry, black raspberry, blueberry, deep berry, cherry jam, cocoa, creaminess, floral, violet, tobacco leaf, peppers, spice, herbal, menthol, dusky, smoky, earthy.
Palate: Black cherry, red plum, cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, black raspberry, baked strawberry, cherry jam, dried currant, fruit forward, spice, black pepper, mint, cocoa, cola, tobacco, mineral, dusty, good, varietally correct.
Finish: Cranberry, black cherry, mint, wet leaves, creamy, clean, smooth, dinner wine.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Fritz 2013 Estate Grown Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley





Alexander Valley Vineyards
2013 Sin Zin

(Healdsburg, Sonoma County) $17

This wine was made from 99% Zinfandel grapes and 1% Petite Sirah all harvested in Alexander Valley – including valley floor, hills and benchlands. It was aged for 10 months in American oak prior to bottling.

Aroma: Raspberry, black cherry, black fruit, cotton candy, sherry-like (dry oloroso), lavender, mint, anise, leather, earthy, stone, mineral, sweet tobacco, toastiness, smoky, big nose.
Palate: Plum, raspberry, cranberry, red berry, blackberry, dark fruit, light cherry, jammy, fruit juice, juicy, vanilla, cola, licorice, spice, mint, toasted oak, hint of earth, well balanced, smoky, good with salami.
Finish: Cherry, soft raspberry, spicy, peppery, tannic, smoky, silky, velvety, big, flavorful.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Alexander Valley Vineyards 2013 Sin Zin



Peachy Canyon
Clevenger 2013 Zinfandel

(Paso Robles, Adelaida District) $38

This wine was made from 96% Zinfandel and 4% Petite Sirah sourced primarily from the Clevenger Vineyard, located in the southern foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Following harvest and fermentation, the wine was aged in French oak barriques and puncheons for 14 months before bottling.

Aroma: Raspberry, strawberry, cherry, cranberry, blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry, black fruit, citrus, currant, dried fruit, blossoms, baking spice, nutmeg, herbal, sage, cocoa, dusty tobacco, beautiful nose.
Palate: Raspberry, cherry, juicy ripe berry, blackberry, big berry fruit, plum, fruit punch, raisin, light spice, black pepper, creamy, soft mineral, mostly meaty, balanced.
Finish: Cherry, raspberry, cranberry, berry, dark plum, cherry cola, light spice, anise, cocoa, oak, barrel, grainy tannins, nice, smooth.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Peachy Canyon Clevenger 2013 Zinfandel



Old Zin Vines
OZV 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel

(Lodi) $13

Grapes for this blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah – sourced from 50-100 year-old vines in Lodi – were cool-fermented and aged in either oak or stainless steel, then blended prior to bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, raspberry, raspberry jam, blackberry, blueberry, briar fruit, fig, dried fruit, raisin, chocolate, red bell pepper, herbal, intense spice, black pepper, tobacco, smoky, full nose.
Palate: Cranberry, cherry, raspberry, boysenberry, concord grape, plum, blackberry, blueberry, bay leaf, light oak, jammy palate, light acid, silky tannins.
Finish: Raspberry jam, blueberry, lingering spice, black pepper, woody, big finish, aperitif, balanced.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Old Zin Vines OZV 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel



Hullabaloo
2012 Old Vines Zinfandel

(Lodi) $17

The grapes for this wine (93$ old vine Zinfandel and 7% Petite Sirah) were from vineyards along the Mokelumme River in Lodi. It was barrel aged in American Oak for 8 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, dark cherry, plum, raspberry, blueberry, vanilla, cream, herbal, lavender, anise, vegetal, licorice, bramble, sandalwood, smoke.
Palate: Red plum, dark cherry, raspberry, blueberry, floral, bell pepper, anise, light spice, clove, bramble, tart, smoke, oak.
Finish: Cherry, vanilla, chocolate, light acidity, smoky.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Hullabaloo 2012 Old Vines Zinfandel

 

 

 

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Fifty Best > Wine Archive > California Zinfandel 2016
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