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02.02.2010

The Best Zinfandels in California: Tasting at ZAP 2010

With a line snaking halfway around the parking lot by 2:00 PM, it might be easy to say that Zinfandel might be one of the more recession proof wines in California. The fact that very good bottles can be had for about $20 certainly means that there's probably a lot more Zinfandel being consumed these days than, say, Meritage blends.

Once inside the annual Zinfandel Advocates and Producers Festival it was clear, however, that far fewer wineries were pouring this year than in the past, though the crowd was no ZAP2010.jpgless lively (I didn't stay until 5 PM when people normally are at their sloppiest and most boisterous).

It's a little bit of a shame, however, as the 2007 and 2008 wines on offer were on the whole, quite good. Both vintages seem characterized by good acidity (especially the 2007s which seemed more perfect in terms of ripeness levels) and my favorite producers' wines were quite uniformly excellent.

I tasted about 220 wines this year, focusing on my usual combination of folks I know well and those I don't, with an effort to try a bunch of the newest members of the ZAP association, who were clearly marked in the tasting booklet.

For those willing to spend between $20 and $35 on a bottle of wine, there are some really killer wines on the market (or soon to be) that are all candidates for bringing anyone who doesn't know much or care much for Zinfandel into the fold.

Without further ado:


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2007 Dashe Cellars "Florence Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $32. Click to buy.
2007 Gamba Vineyards and Winery "Estate Old Vine" Russian River Valley. $43. Click to buy.
2001 Moss Creek Winery "Estate" Napa Valley.
2008 Outpost Estate Wines. $??. Click to buy.
2007 Rosenblum Cellars "Maggie's Reserve" Sonoma Valley. $45. Click to buy.
2008 Sandler Wine Company "Sandler Buck Hill Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $30. Click to buy.
2007 T-Vine Cellars Napa Valley. $43. Click to buy.
2007 T-Vine Cellars "Brown Vineyard" Napa Valley. $36. Click to buy.
2008 Turley Wine Cellars "Hayne Vineyard" Napa Valley. $75.
2007 Valdez Family Winery "Bottlicelli Rock Pile" Dry Creek Valley. $41. Click to buy.
2007 Valdez Family Winery "Quinn" Dry Creek Valley. $38. Click to buy.


WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2007 Brown Estate "Chaos Theory Red Wine" Napa Valley. $36
2007 Chiarello Family Vineyards "Giana" Napa Valley. $35
2006 D-Cubed Cellars Napa Valley. $27
2006 D-Cubed Cellars Howell Mountain. $37
2007 Dashe Cellars "Todd Brothers Ranch Old Vines" Alexander Valley. $32
2007 Dashe Cellars "Louveau Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $32
2007 Fritz Winery "Reserve" Dry Creek Valley. $40
2008 Gamba Vineyards and Winery "Moratto Vineyard" Russian River Valley. $43
2008 Gamba Vineyards and Winery Russian River Valley. $35
2007 Hartford Family Winery "Russian River" Russian River Valley. $35
2007 Hartford Family Winery "Hartford Estate" Russian River Valley. $55
2008 Hartford Family Winery "Highwire Vineyard" Russian River Valley. $55
2007 Mantra Wines Alexander Valley. $30
2007 Mantra Wines "Old Vines Reserve" Alexander Valley. $??
2006 Milliaire Winery "Ghiradelli" Calaveras. $28
2006 Milliaire Winery "Old Vine" Calaveras. $22
2008 Novy Family Wines Russian River Valley. $20
2007 Orin Swift Cellars "Saldo" California. $28
2006 OTTIMINO "Estate" Russian River Valley. $28
2008 Ridge Vineyards "Pagani Ranch" Sonoma Valley. $35
2008 Robert Biale Vineyards "Varozza Vineyard" St. Helena. $40
2007 Rosenblum Cellars "Rockile Road" Sonoma. $35
2007 Saddleback Cellars "Old Vine" Napa Valley. $36
2008 Sandler Wine Company "The Industrial" Dry Creek Valley. $35
2007 Scott Harvey Wines "Vineyard 1869" Amador County. $45
2006 T-Vine Cellars "T Blend" Napa Valley. $40
2008 Turley Wine Cellars "Old Vines" California. $25
2007 Valdez Family Winery "Landy" Russian River Valley. $38
2007 Venge Vineyards "Scout's Honor" Napa Valley. $38
2007 Wilson Winery & Vineyards "Carl's Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $32
2007 Woodenhead Vintners "Martinelli Road Vineyard" Russian River. $??


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2007 Acorn Winery / Alegria Vineyards "Heritage Vines" Alegria Vineyards, Russian River Valley. $35
2008 Baldwin Vineyards "Rattlesnake Ridge" Sonoma Valley. $50
2006 Ballentine Vineyards "Old Vine Estate" Napa Valley. $20
2007 Ballentine Vineyards "Block 9 Reserve Estate" Napa Valley. $27
2006 Ballentine Vineyards "Block 11 Estate" Napa Valley. $25
2007 Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves "Two Patch" Alexander Valley. $38
2006 Bradford Mountain Winery "Grist Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $34
2008 Brown Estate Napa Valley. $36
2006 Carol Shelton "Rocky Reserve" Florence Vineyard, Rockpile. $33
2007 Cedarville Vineyard "Estate "El Dorado. $20
2007 Cesar Toxqui Cellars Mendocino. $??
2007 DH Gustafson Family Vineyards "Estate" Dry Creek Valley. $36
2007 Downing Family Vineyards"Fly by Night"Napa Valley. $24
2006 Easton Wines "Rinaldi Vineyard" Fiddletown. $28
2007 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley. $37
2006 Franz Hill Vineyard Napa Valley. $32
2007 Fritz Winery "Estate" Dry Creek Valley. $25
2006 Hartford Family Winery "Russian River Valley" Russian River Valley. $35
2006 Hendry "Block 28" Napa Valley. $30
2006 Hendry "Block 7 & 22" Napa Valley. $30
2006 J. Rickards Winery & Vineyards "Ancestors" Alexander Valley. $22
2007 J. Rickards Winery & Vineyards "Ancestor Selection Block" Alexander Valley. $22
2007 Klinker Brick Winery "Old Ghost Old Vine" Lodi. $37
2007 Kokomo Winery "Perotti Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $34
2005 Ledson Winery & Vineyards"Old Vine"Russian River Valley. $48
2007 Mauritson Family Vineyard "Rockpile Ridge Vineyard" Rockpile. $35
2006 Milliaire Winery "Clockspring" Amador. $24
2005 Miraflores Winery Sierra Foothills. $22
2007 Miraflores Winery Sierra Foothills. $22
2006 Papapietro Perry "Elsbree Vineyard" Russian River Valley. $37
2005 Proulx Winery "Jack Barrett" Paso Robles. $32
2008 Ridge Vineyards "Lytton Springs" Dry Creek Valley. $35
2008 Ridge Vineyards "Ponzo Vineyard" Russian River Valley. $28
2008 Ridge Vineyards Paso Robles. $30
2008 Ridge Vineyards "Buchignani Ranch" Sonoma. $28
2008 Robert Biale Vineyards "Napa Ranch Vineyard" Napa Valley. $38
2007 Rusina Wines Dry Creek Valley. $30
2007 Rusina Wines Alexander Valley. $28
2006 Sbragia Family Vineyards "Gino's Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $28
NV Sextant Wines Central Coast. $49
2006 Storrs Winery "Rusty Ridge" Bay Area. $30
2007 Storrs Winery Central Coast. $20
2007 Storybook Mountain Wines "Mayacamas Range Estate" Napa. $34
2007 Thacher Winery "Triumvurate" Paso Robles. $30
2007 Truchard Vineyards "Estate" Carneros. $25
2007 Wilson Winery & Vineyards "Sawyer Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $32
2007 Wilson Winery & Vineyards "Tori's Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $44
2007 Woodenhead Vintners "Guido Venturi Vineyard" Mendocino. $??
2006 Woodenhead Vintners "Martinelli Road Vineyard" Russian River. $??

WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2006 Acorn Winery / Alegria Vineyards "Heritage Vines" Alegria Vineyards, Russian River Valley. $35
2008 Bedrock Wine Company "Lorenzo's Heirloon" Dry Creek Valley. $35
2007 Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves "Lily Hill" Dry Creek Valley. $38
2007 Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves "Big River Ranch" Alexander Valley. $38
2006 Benessere "BK Collins Old Vines" Napa. $40
2006 Carol Shelton "Wild Thing" Cox Vineyard, Mendocino County. $24
2007 Carol Shelton "Monga Zin" Lopez Vineyard, Cucamonga Valley. $21
2006 Carol Shelton "Karma Zin" Sonoma County. $33
2007 Claudia Springs Winery "John Ricetti" Redwood Valley. $24
2007 Dancing Lady Wines "Old Vine" Della Costa Family Vineyard, Alexander Valley. $27
2008 Dashe Cellars Dry Creek Valley. $24
2007 Deep Purple Winery Lodi. $??
2006 DH Gustafson Family Vineyards "Mountain Cuvee" Dry Creek Valley. $24
2006 Downing Family Vineyards "Fly by Night" Napa Valley. $24
2006 Easton Wines "Estate" Shenandoah Valley. $32
2005 Easton Wines "Old Vines" Shenandoah Valley. $??
2005 Easton Wines "Estate" Shenandoah Valley. $??
2007 GiaDomella Russian River. $26
2007 Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma Valley. $38
2007 Harney Lane Winery "Old Vine" Lizzy James Vineyard, Lodi. $33
2007 Haywood Estates "Morning Sun" Sonoma Valley. $38
2006 Hendry "Block 7 & 22" Napa Valley. $30
2005 John Tyler Wines "Bacigalupi Vineyards" Russian River. $36
2007 Kokomo Winery "Timber Crest Vineyards" Dry Creek Valley. $32
2007 Kokomo Winery "Mounts Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $27
2007 Lava Cap Winery "Spring House" El Dorado. $24
2005 Leonhardt Vineyards "Reserve" Dry Creek Valley. $35
2007 Marr Cellars "Old Vine" Mattern Ranch, Mendocino. $24
2006 Matrix Winery "Francis" Russian River. $28
2007 Mauritson Family Vineyard "Rockpile Cemetery Vineyard" Rockpile. $39
2008 Mauritson Family Vineyard Dry Creek Valley. $27
2007 Mauritson Family Vineyard Mendocino. $18
2006 Miraflores Winery Sierra Foothills. $22
2007 Moss Creek Winery "Over The Top" Wappo Camp. $??
2006 OTTIMINO "Von Weidlich" Russian River Valley. $30
2007 Papapietro Perr "Timbercrest Farms" Dry Creek Valley. $45
2007 Peachy Canyon Winery "Especial" Paso Robles. $40
2007 Pedroncelli Winery "Mother Clone" Dry Creek Valley. $15
2007 Pellegrini Family Vineyards Russian River. $25
2007 Proulx Winery "Reserve" Paso Robles. $42
2007 Puccioni Vineyards "Old Vine" Dry Creek Valley. $28
2008 Ridge Vineyards "East Bench" Dry Creek Valley. $26
2008 Ridge Vineyards "Geyserville" Sonoma County. $35
2008 Ridge Vineyards "Carmichael" Sonoma. $28
2008 Robert Biale Vineyards "Grande Vineyard" Napa Valley. $40
2007 Rosenblum Cellars "Carla's Reserve" Contra Costa County. $30
2007 Rosenblum Cellars Contra Costa County. $30
2007 Rosenblum Cellars Sonoma County. $??
2007 Rusina Wines "Triskelion Red Blend" Dry Creek Valley. $40
2006 Sbragia Family Vineyards "Italo's Vineyard" Alexander Valley. $28
2006 Sbragia Family Vineyards "La Promessa" Dry Creek Valley. $32
2006 Scott Harvey Wines "Old Vine" Amador County. $30
2005 Storrs Winery "Lion Oaks Vineyard" Bay Area. $34
2006 Thacher Winery Paso Robles. $29
2007 Thacher Winery Paso Robles. $29
2006 Tofanelli Family Vineyard "Estate Vineyard" Napa Valley. $36
2002 Truchard Vineyards "Estate" Carneros. n/a
2007 Vino Noceto Winery and Vineyards "OGP" Amador. $28
2007 Wilson Winery & Vineyards "Molly's Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $32
2007 Wilson Winery & Vineyards "Ellie's Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley. $32
2007 Woodenhead Vintners "Braccialini Vineyard" Anderson Valley. $??

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2006 Artezin Wines Dry Creek Valley. $25
2007 Artezin Wines Dry Creek Valley. $25
2008 Bedrock Wine Company "Bedrock Heirloom" Sonoma. $35
2006 Bradford Mountain Winery Dry Creek Valley. $28
2006 C.G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery Shenandoah Valley. $25
2006 Cakebread Cellars "Snow's Lake Vineyard" Red Hills, Lake County. $41
2005 Calcareous Vineyard "Twisted Sisters "Kate's Vineyard, Paso Robles. $26
2007 Charter Oak Winery "Monte Rosso" Sonoma. $42
2008 Easton Wines Amador County. $17
2008 Fontanella Family Wines Mount Veeder. $36
2007 Four Vines "Biker" Paso Robles. $25
2007 HammerSky Vineyards "Estate Reserve" Paso Robles. $39
2008 Hartford Family Winery "Jolene's Vineyard" Russian River Valley. $55
2004 John Tyler Wines "Bacigalupi Vineyards" Russian River. $36
2007 Kenneth Volk Vineyards "Paso Robles" Paso Robles. $28
2007 Klinker Brick Winery "Old Vine" Lodi. $18
2007 Leonhardt Vineyards "Reserve" Dry Creek Valley. $48
2007 Marr Cellars "Old Vine" Mendocino County. $21
2007 OTTIMINO "Zinfinity" Sonoma County. $17
2007 Paso Creek Paso Robles. $17
2007 Rued Winery Dry Creek Valley. $25
2007 Sextant Wines "Holystone" Paso Robles. $27
2008 Sextant Wines Central Coast. $15
2007 SideJob Cellars "C5 Stefani Vineyard" Sonoma County. $30
2006 Starry Night Winery "Tom Feeney Ranch" Russian River Valley. $28
2007 Tin Barn Vineyards "Dalraddy Vineyard" Napa Valley. $27
2007 Tin Barn Vineyards "Gilsson Vineyard" Russian River Valley. $27
2007 Tofanelli Family Vineyard "Estate Vineyard" Napa Valley. $36


WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2007 Alderbrook Winery "Old Vine" Dry Creek Valley. $19
2006 Amapola Creek Vineyards & Winery "Monte Rosso" Sonoma Valley. $40
2007 Amapola Creek Vineyards & Winery "Vina Antiquas" Sonoma Valley. $40
2007 Amphora Winery Dry Creek Valley. $26
2006 Barnard Griffin Winery Columbia Gorge, Washington. $25
2007 Bogle Winery "Old Vine "California. $11
2006 Calcareous Vineyard "Calcareous Vineyard" Kate's Westside Vineyard, Paso Robles. $26
2007 Claudia Springs Winery "Nate's Vineyard" Redwood Valley. $24
2007 Dono dal Cielo Vineyard Sierra Foothills. $28
2007 Hendry "HRW" Napa Valley. $15
2003 John Tyler Wines "Bacigalupi Vineyards" Russian River. $36
2007 Lang Wines "Oakmont Vineyards" Amador County. $19
2006 Martorana Family Winery Dry Creek Valley. $??
2007 Opolo Vineyards "Mountain" Paso Robles. $28
2006 Peju Winery Napa Valley. $28
2007 Sextant Wines "Wheelhouse" Paso Robles. $20
2007 Sextant Wines "Genoa Blend" Central Coast. $79
2008 SideJob Cellars "C5 Stefani Vineyard" Sonoma County. $30
2008 SideJob Cellars Sonoma County. $15
2007 Stephen & Walker Winery Dry Creek Valley. $39


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2008 Artezin Wines California. $18
2007 Brazin Cellars Dry Creek Valley. $16.99
2006 Brutocao Cellars "Estate" Hopland Ranches, Mendocino. $22
2007 Gregory Graham Wines "Crimson Hill" Red Hills, Lake County. $24
2007 M2 Wines "Soucie Vineyard Old Vine" Lodi. $28
2008 Macchia Winery "Serious" Old Vine, Lodi. $50
2007 Mariah Vineyards Mendocino. $??


WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7.5 AND 8
2007 Bartholomew Park Winery Sonoma Valley. $38
2007 Guglielmo Winery "Private Reserve Estate" Santa Clara Valley. $18
2007 Scott Harvey Wines "InZinerator" California. $18

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 7.5
2006 Amphora Winery Sonoma Valley. $40
2007 Rombauer Vineyards Sierra Foothills. $29

WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7 AND 7.5
2007 Amphora Winery, Dry Creek Valley. $40

WINES WITH A SCORE BELOW 7
2008 Peirano Winery "The Immortal" Lodi. $13 Score: 7
2007 Ironstone Vineyards "Rous Vineyard" Amador. $?? Score: 6.75
2007 J Dusi Wines "Dante Dusi Vineyard" Paso Robles. $32 Score: 6.75

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