Gregory Dal Piaz

Location: New York, NY

12 Top Zinfandel October 2013

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Florence Vineyard Dry Creek Valley (2010)
Comments: Opening with a huge nose of crushed blackberry, green balsam spice notes, and gorgeous floral accents, this smells terrific. Complex earthy fruit greets the palate with a rich, firm texture to the evolving chocolatey, tart cherry flavors that get added lift from the herbal freshness here. There's almost a little chinato character here, complex, earthy and herbal along with layers of thyme, crushed flowers and red currant and raspberry fruit on the palate. One of the most vibrant and energetic Zins I've tasted recently. This just has stunning purity of fruit with some power behind it, compelling complexity and superb cut on the palate. Just terrific Zinfandel. I’m always disappointed when I remember that this comes from relatively young vines. It’s a magical vineyard. 95pts
Previously available for $35.00
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2 Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel Ancient Field Blend (2010)
Comments: This smells great filled with precise aromas of black pepper, blue floral notes, high toned spicy accents and rich huckleberry blackberry and wood spice notes. Smooth and polished on entry, then turning dense and chewy and a bit folded in on itself. This is one deep, weird wine, not Zinfandel in many ways but hitting more of my Languedoc buttons, are more like Syrah, all earthy, deep, a little beefy and spicy and rich but not fruity rich. The long finish is more true to type, more briary fruit and finely ripe blackberry fruit driven with a bit of tangy boysenberry on the lightly medicinal and aromatic finish that shows hints of violets and cinnamon. This is so complete and so complex, tannic and chewy but fruit is so bold that one hardly notices. Definitely has great potential to improve but already is just a stunning field blend. 95pts
Average price: $38.99 from 1 store
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3 Ridge 'Lytton Springs' (2011)
Comments: A little spicy on the nose with super crushed berry fruit, a little poppy seeds, maybe even some fennel adding a provençal hint to the layered blackberry and brambly fruit with red fruit highlights. This has superb balance, clear and soil driven up front with fruit that hints at black currant, then soil and spice tones with a hint of dried herbs on the midpalate. Tannins are ripe and slightly pointy, acid is firm lending a tart note to the flavors, finishing with energy and fine tannins. Broad shouldered and narrow waisted with just terrific purity to the fruit and tannins show upon the finish. Vibrant and alive, this is great Zin. 94pts
Average price: $36.99 from 115 stores
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4 Talty Winery Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Estate William Talty Vineyards (2009)
Comments: Classic Zin nose filled with fresh raspberry fruit framed by a little white chocolate, briar, pepper and a hint of bacon fat. Elegant and aromatic in the mouth, this is built on a nice base of slightly austere tannins and fine acids supporting zesty red raspberry and blackberry fruit that has a slightly herbal edge. the oak come into play on the midpalate, adding a touch of spice and leading to a firm finish that shows a little currant notes. Bright and effusive in the mouth with a little mineral edge, this is so pure and refreshing. 94pts
Previously available for $38.00
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5 Seghesio Zinfandel Monte Rosso Sonoma Valley (2011)
Comments: Smoky and dark on the nose with aromas of dried meat, juniper, coffee and spice over a tight black currant and blackberry base notes. On entry this is elegant and lively with brushy little tannins. Quite clear on the palate but muscular with a deep earthy mineral vein that cuts through lovely fresh raspberry and currant fruit. Very soil driven and a bit. rusty on the palate this has a lovely tannin structure, slightly dusty and long along with relatively high acid that keeps this fresh, taut and lively and particularly clear on the long finish where the fruit picks up a touch of blueberry. Nuanced, complex and powerful in a lean, focused way. 94pts
Previously available for $48.00
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6 Green & Red Tip Top Vineyard Zinfandel (2010)
Comments: Wooly and animal on the nose with fudgy, dark earthy, leathery dark cherry fruit. Seamless and richly fruited, almost sweet on entry with fine sporting dusty tannins. This is angular and youthful with fresh black cherry and blackberry flavors that pick up a lovely bitter cherry note on the mid-palate before warm baking spices flood the finish. Powerful yet elegantly balanced, this has a lovely core of acid keeping a powerful wine light on its feet. A little angular yet so transparent, this is super today and should improve. 93pts
Previously available for $28.00
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7 Elyse Zinfandel Napa Valley Morisoli Vineyard (2009)
Comments: This opens on the nose with a huge toast, American oak and Zinfandel explosion Spicy and sweet with a coconut note, crushed wild berry, blackberry fruit and some violet accents. The texture is super ripe and rich but not weighty. Packed with rich fruit, all black raspberry and tannins are so finely knit together that they flesh out the mouth without being intrusive. I love the texture here and the rich raspberry fruit on the midpalate, gaining nice lift from the acids here and driving the wild cherry and spiced flavors across the long, earthy finish. A bit of a power packed, velvety Zinn but in its style it’s excellent. 93pts
Average price: $29.96 from 1 store
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8 Carol Shelton Wines Zinfandel Rockpile Rocky Reserve Rockpile Ridge Vineyard (2009)
Comments: Dark earthy, mineral and balsamic on the nose with dark fruit and pressed floral accents. Rich and seamless on entry, this has fine tension in the mouth, a little dusty though with super depth on the palate and deeply steeped flavors, all blackberry and black curranty The super fine yet firm tannins keep this firm and focused through the long finish which shows some blueberry jam notes a dark assertive spice flavors. The oak is very well judged offering gentle support to the dark and mineral fruit flavors. 92pts
Previously available for $29.99
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9 Gary Farrell Zinfandel Bradford Mountain (2010)
Comments: Darker on the nose than the Sonoma bottling with carob, meat, mint, and eucalyptus spice accenting the cool,earthy and powerful nose. This is not fruit driven. Much lighter on the palate than the nose would lead one to believe,. Dark, and muscular like a ballet dancer, this reveals lovely depth, the flavors like the nose run to the earthy, savory sided things with a bit of cracked pepper spice and mineral shadings framing the core of balsam scented wild blackberry fruit. This finishes firmly with real energy and a fine mineral note, and just a hint of wood tannin supporting fine crushed black currant fruit. 93pts
Previously available for $48.00
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10 Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves Zinfandel Big River Ranch (2010)
Comments: This is spicy on the nose with perfumed oak tones and lovely nuanced toasted cumin and coriander accent to the core of dark, oily fruit. In the mouth this is surprisingly supple and slinky, and rich with a core of wild cherry and plummy fruit that remains very tight and almost chewy, dense but not weighty. This gives the impression of being a little sweet, with sweet toasty oak adding to that, though there is great clarity to the muscular, earthy fruit that drives the long finish. 92pts
Previously available for $39.99
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11 Rockpile Winery Zinfandel Rockpile Jack's Cabin (2011)
Comments: Deep and jammy on the nose which is nicely smoky with some mineral notes and lots of juniper, cigar wrapper and briar wood spice notes. Polished and clear with wonderful fruit on entry. This is all about Smith brothers black cherry cough drops in the mouth, tangy and deep, supported by fine grained yet firm tannins and nicely integrated acids, that keep the richness and plushness here in check. Some black tea and chocolate notes emerge on the finish along with a bit of peppery spice but this is one big, smooth, fruit driven wine at its core. There’s a lovely balance between all the fruit and the underlying structure. 92pts
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12 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel Napa Valley Eastern Exposures (2011)
Comments: A barrel selection with 10% viognier Lots of apricot and flowers greet the nose followed by peppery and spicy, red plummy fruit. Rather light bodied in the mouth, this offers lovely transparency, a while a little simple it is remarkably pure with such fine herbal spice inner mouth perfumes on the backend accenting the fresh red plum and berry flavors. This is so well put together with fine supporting acids and polished tannins, creating a taut, elegant framework with which the fruit can express itself. A unique expression of Zinfandel. 92pts
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  • 87843napagirl68 regarding the Dashe... I am so glad to see you like this wine... Dashe does restrained zins... how a zin should be, IMO. Good call.

  • 84340827 bcarroll Home Ranch by Seghesio is my favorite and I believe grapes are grown only on Rattlesnake Hill, though your list is a good one for the Sonoma vineyards.

  • 1093666Joseph Roth I prefer A. Rafanelli and Martinelli Zinfandels. Excellent wines.

  • 565658Jacqueline Harmon Butler Cline Cellars makes 7 different Zinfandels -- all very tasty. My favorite being Live Oak Zinfandel. The Ancient Vine Zinfandel is also delicious.

  • 1256555ChenChris How about the Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel 2009?

  • 142342jgrootegoed Q. The label states 2009, the review 2010. Fortunately I have both vintages but curious. I agree w/ Mr. Roth's assessment, and am members of both clubs, but find them chasing the Wine Spectator high alcohol/fruit/sweet a bit too much. Any folks here fans of Vince Forchini's wines? I find them exceptional.

  • 1123741DWCPSC You missed a great Zin if you didn't get to Stephen & Walker.

  • 1031115lemonadelucy Robert Biale, any vineyard, any vintage. Superior, polished, and balanced Zins

  • 1100552rickyb Bogle zin and old vine zin are great values, as is Cline ancient vine zin

  • 574710Bruce Reed Dutcher Crossing Maple Zin is fabulous

  • 154660zinfandel1 A Pretty good list. These winemakers are going in somewhat different directions with this wonderful grape; but yet they arrive at the final point at which they are all easily identified as zinfandel. This in itself is remarkable.

  • 417618MikeDashe Regarding jgrootegoed comments, the wine that was tasted was indeed the 2010 Florence Zinfandel (not the 2009 as the picture shows). And as far as Dashe Cellars chasing Wine Spectator high alc./fruit/sweet wines, I think that we've gone the other direction with our wines, much to our taste but probably to the detriment of getting high scores from the press. I appreciate Snooth's thoughtful tasting notes....and I think that many zinfandels are being made now with a lot of balance and complexity, without the excessive alc. or super ripe fruit. Just my opinion! --Mike Dashe

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