It has been quite a while since I actually enjoyed drinking Zinfandel. So, when I recently discovered three Zins that I found pleasurable to drink (with food in fact) I thought I should share.
In recent years I found most Zinfandels weighed down with alcohol and overripe fruit. Zin, to me, became the kind of wine that does not match well with food but with which food is absolutely necessary if you don’t want to fall on your face from drinking it. My opinion of Zinfandel has subsequently been swayed by three exceptionally balanced bottles with both alcohol and price in check.
The three Zinfandel producers recommended below may not be for the Turley crowd, but if you enjoy a lusciously jammy and spicy wine that pairs brilliantly with grilled meats, BBQ, and such appetizers as, say, figs wrapped in bacon you will not be disappointed. Keep in mind that 2003 and 2001 were the best recent vintages for Zinfandel but other current vintages were rated above average as well. I have not noted specific vintages below as I suggest you try what you can find out in the market today.
Bald Mountain Zinfandel
The wine is full of soft, juicy berries and has an alluringly silky texture. Not to be taken too seriously, this is a fun bottle of wine with just the right amount of spice and vanilla to complement the jammy fruit. Great with food, especially the bacon wrapped figs mentioned earlier, the wine sells for approximately $27 retail.
Downing Family Fly by Night Zinfandel
A Zin from Cab Country, the grapes are organically farmed from a single vineyard. Interestingly, Downing Family has bottled Fly by Night with both cork and Stelvin screw cap closures since the 2000 vintage. A beautiful wine with succulent acidity and ripe berry flavors along with chocolate and mineral notes. The wine has impressive intensity and balance and is a steal at about $20 retail.
The Terraces Zinfandel
This small production Zin has a marked spiciness which harmonizes nicely with the luscious berry fruit. As the wine opens up it shows vanilla and chocolate along with red berry jam. Nicely layered with great balance and a long finish, this is a great “go to” Zin at about $25 a bottle.