Gregory Dal Piaz

Location: New York, NY

10 Top Zinfandel Values Tasted 9/2014

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Xyzin Old Vine Zinfandel (2012)
Comments: Almost black peppery on the nose and decidedly spicy in a subtle and nuanced way with some sweet oak emerging with air along with aromas of sour plum and strawberry jam. Smooth and focused on entry with nice tension in the mouth and fine clarity on the palate. This is light and bright in the mouth but with plenty of Zinfandel muscle to show off. the flavors recall the strawberry of the nose with well integrated wood spice and a fine mineraly vein that lends this some green peppercorn spice right through the fairly long finish. A bit beefy in the mouth, this reminds a bit of Syrah but if really very well balanced and shows a wonderfully refined and detailed finish. 89pts
Previously available for $17.99
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2 Ravenswood Zinfandel Napa (2012)
Comments: A touch balsamic on the nose with warm, powder sugar covered black berry and raspberry aromas and just a hint of wood smoke adding detail. A bit thick and chewy on entry, this shows lovely depth on the palate with a bit of black spice and hints of briar wood layered over brambly fruit. A bit on the tannic side, but certainly remaining in harmony, this is clear ands fresh on the palate with some of that tannic weight adding a little austerity to the moderately long fruit and savory earth toned finish. Serious and well balanced and worth checking in on in a year as well. 88pts
Previously available for $23.20
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3 Ravenswood Zinfandel Lodi Old Vine (2012)
Comments: Effusively fruity on the nose with briar toned blackberry and plummy fruit along with streaks of vanilla, caramel, and a hint of coconut. This is wide open in the mouth yet not opulent with a touch of chewiness to the rich, ripe briar and tar tinged cherry and blackberry fruit that shows remarkable clarity on the palate at this price point. A little spicy on the backend, then dropping off a bit on the finish which shows a hints of sandy soil tones that linger on the palate. This is a little on the fleshy side but well balanced and fresh with a rather long, acid driven red cherry finish. 88pts
Previously available for $11.99
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4 Project Paso Zinfandel Old Vine (2010)
Comments: Smoky and decidedly oaky on the nose, redolent of vanilla, ginger, toasted baking spices and cola along with some zinberry fruit. Smooth and supple in the mouth with a nice blend of bright acids and polished little tannins supporting juicy and very fresh brambly raspberry fruit flavors. the oak is obvious in the mouth as well but it plays mostly a supporting role allowing the fruit here to shine. This is definitely easy to drink and while not a classic Zinfandel it’s easily identifiable as Zin and a great value at this price. People should love this. 87pts
Average price: $14.49 from 4 stores
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5 Bliss Zinfandel (2010)
Comments: Fresh and precise on the nose with a lovely array of boysenberry pie, slightly used wood, sandalwood, and gentle allspice aromas. Cool on entry and a little dull at first, this does turn itself around showing attractive hard candy like flavors of red fruits on the palate that are taut and transparent with lovely nuanced wood spice and earth and herb tones emerging on the backend. A subtle and elegant Zinfandel that finishes with lingering hints of warm baking spice and sour cherries. This really is very well balanced and eminently drinkable, though it remains a subtle wine. 87pts
Previously available for $12.99
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6 Kendall-Jackson Zinfandel Vintner's Reserve California (2012)
Comments: Sweet cherry fruit laced with vanilla, cola, and softly toasted spicy aromas greet the nose. An interesting wine that is perhaps a touch sweet but offers an attractive blend of very-ripe plum date and black cherry flavors that are backed up with complicating notes of bitter spices and herbs and well integrated wood. The tannins build on the palate and this has a hint of black currant in the mouth, which along with the herbal character lends this a slightly Cabernet like tone on the palate, but this remains distinctly Zin like with power, weight, and complexity in the mouth and a rather long if slightly stick finish. 87pts
Average price: $14.99 from 7 stores
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7 Ravenswood Zinfandel Sonoma Old Vines (2011)
Comments: A bit tight on the nose with slightly smoky and toasty wood spice aromas layered over slightly beef, plum framed medicinal cherry fruit. rather light and fresh in the mouth with an ease about it and lovely flavors of raspberry and cherry layered over the well judged wood notes. The acids are nicely done here, supportive and helping to drive the fruit across the finish but remaining well integrated through the long black cherry finale. There’s a little briar here and mostly red cherry fruit on the palate but you know you are drinking Zinfandel and this does show pretty good length on the palate. The oak is a little obvious here. 87pts
Previously available for $16.99
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8 Mud Pie Zinfandel (2010)
Comments: Low aromas of blackberries and earth greet the nose followed by handfuls of strawberries and hints of dried herbs. Just a hint of sweetness is apparent on entry then this follows up with rather full throttle yet bright Zinfandel berry fruit that is both slightly spicy and aromatically a bit herbal and certainly brambly in the mouth. This is a bit forced texturally with the tannins being a touch out of balance and aggressive, but pair this with some grilled ribs and that would be an advantage not a problem. On it’s own though the tannins dominate the finish just a bit and that smidge of RS lends a sticky feeling through the finale. Still this is a lot of fun for a full blown Zin that is not at all over the top. 86pts
Previously available for $12.99
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9 Kenwood Zinfandel Sonoma Valley (2011)
Comments: Interesting on the nose with obvious oak influence that is actually fairly subtle and well integrated into the perfumy, heather tinged cranberry and lingonberry fruit aromas. Easy and supple on entry, this has some fine little brushy tannins and good acidity lending it a rather open yet authentic feel. It’s Zinfandel as Zinfandel was. Nothing remarkable here, just perfectly drinkable, well balanced, and unfettered Zin with hints of peppery spice and brambly fruit on the palate that transitions something slightly rustic and a bit drying on the backend and through the moderately long cherry/vanilla finish. Not a remarkable wine but in some way a true classic. 86pts
Previously available for $12.99
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10 Plungerhead Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel (2011)
Comments: Assertively oaky on the nose though this still allows the candied red fruit and sweet herbal aromas of the wine to emerge through the smoke and toasted oak notes. Bright and juicy on entry, this is easy to drink and it unfolds nicely on the palate with brisk red cherry and raspberry fruit nicely supported by oak that is surprisingly well integrated. There are some gentle tannins lending support and acids that are bright, if integrated, bringing a hint of orange rind to the appellate. There’s a little toasty pie crust thing going on here and that turns into a full blown vanilla note on the backend as this transitions to a clean if modest finish. Easy going with nice balance and solid fruit. 85pts
Average price: $11.99 from 116 stores
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