A Classic California Zinfandel

A Classic California Zinfandel

Posted on Oct, 21. 2010 by

Categories: Wine

Zinfandel is kind of an esoteric wine, and one that we haven’t often featured here at the Wine Guild. It’s the most uniquely “Californian” of wines, a grape varietal essentially indigenous to the state that isn’t successfully grown really anywhere else in the world (though, to be fair, Zinfandel is genetically equivalent to Primitivo grown in southern Italy). As a long time resident of the Bay Area, I have a fair bit of experience with this varietal, and really enjoy it when it’s expressed purely through old vine fruit and traditional vinification methods.

As I was tasting through the warehouse of the distributor a couple of weeks ago, I was getting kind of bored with the handfuls of low-end Australian and Italian wines I was pouring through and passing on. But then, on the top shelf of the rack system that stretched to the warehouse ceiling, the forklift driver discovered a sparsely populated palate containing a handful of cases of high quality California wines. Some we’ve already featured, while others didn’t make the grade, but the last one we tasted was the 2003 Cosentino Zinfandel The Zin. And it was immediately evident that it was a winner…

Cosentino has been making wines for 20 years in Napa Valley, and as relatively well know as mid-tier producer with a broad portfolio. They sell wines across the price spectrum, and while some of their lower end wines come across as uninspiring, the higher-priced ones are often quite good. Here are some notes about the particular line of wines this comes from for further context:

“The California Series” is a collection of wines dedicated to expressing authentic varietal characteristics of a particular grape. “THE” wines reveal the true range of California’s finest wine grapes, meticulously sourced from specific vineyards throughout California that are best suited to grow those particular varietals. “THE” Wines” possess a rare balance of ease and complexity that makes each wine extremely accessible today as well as having the ability to age and provide enjoyment for years to come.

This was another sample that I brought back from the warehouse to share with the Guild Board, and again this was a unanimous choice (impressive, given the Euro-centric palates of my bretheren, but to their credit they know good wine when they taste it). In researching online reviews, there is nothing published by the major houses (Parker, Wine Spectator), but the CellarTracker scores are consistently 89-90 points. I had my own tasting note scribbled on a napkin as I was composing this offer, but then I ran across one that pretty much summed up my thoughts:

Tasted by treaganjr on 10/9/2009 & rated 90 points: On the pour wine displayed medium dark ruby color. Hints of garnet were sneaking in, showing the age of this very nice wine. Initial flavors were rich, ripe fruit showing mature Zin flavors. This wine is at a point where it is vigorously pursuing a big Zin identin iity and should be enjoyed now.

Interestingly I got a red fruit profile on my initial tastes (raspberry/strawberry/cranberry), but as the wine sat in the glass the flavors grew darker (blackberry). It is certainly made in a ripe, full style — this is bursting and exuberant, warm and rich (but not alcoholic and obvious). We’ve offered the occasional Zin in the past, and the ones I’ve recommended have been typical of the varietal and this one is as well.

An excellent wine with pizza, pasta (red sauce) or any kind of meat, this wine is in its prime drinking window right now. Pop, pour and enjoy a little slice of California as the fall weather sets in here in Charlottesville. My only regret? There are but three cases of this beauty left (as folks dropping by the office this week have already picked off a fair share of what we brought in). So if this sounds like your thing then act fast, as others will I’m sure…

2003 Cosentino Zinfandel The Zin, California
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $12.89 • Premier Cru: $13.48 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $20.00
Buy Now!

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