Zinfandel Olympics



By Kori ~ March 17th, 2008.

Our good friends, Ross of Decanted and his wife Alison, recently hosted the Zinfandel Olympics. Over the course of six weeks, a group of us gathered weekly to taste a number of Zinfandels. The rough format (with a few exceptions) was that in each of the preliminary five rounds, we tasted six Zins, each from a different appellation. Generally, five of the six were from California and the sixth was from Washington or Oregon. Being Washingtonians, we wanted to see if Washington Zinfandels could stack up with California which is considered the “home” of Zinfandel.

20080317_zinvines.jpgWe tasted a total of 31 different Zinfandels (26 from California, 3 from Washington, and 2 from Oregon). Last Wednesday was the Championship Round which included the winners from each of the first five rounds plus two wild card entries. Considering that there were only five non-California wines in the entire event, I think that it is quite remarkable that one Washington and one Oregon wine made the Championships as winners of a previous round. While they did not medal in the Championships, they certainly made a good showing. So while California continues to make excellent Zinfandels, I encourage you to branch out and try some Zins from Washington and Oregon as well.

“Zinfandel is immensely successful and popular for all levels of wine from blends to fresh, light versions and to galumphing sticky blackstrap. The best have excellent balance, a lively raspberry flavor and seem to mature indefinitely.” –Hugh Johnson, wine writer

Here’s a rundown of the Championship Round from 1st (Gold Medal) through 7th place in the group rankings:

GOLD MEDAL
2004 DeLoach Forgotten Vines Zinfandel: Aromas open up and improve the longer the bottle is open. Nice red fruit on the palate. A lot going on in this wine. Smooth and well-balanced with ripe tannins, good acidity, and a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: PrimoVino (Colorado), $27.00

SILVER MEDAL
2004 Turley Pesenti Vineyard Zinfandel: Lots of raspberry on the nose. Slightly sweet aromas. Fruit forward with bold tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Wine Ranger Cellars (California), $57.00

BRONZE MEDAL
2005 Carlisle “Carlisle Vineyard” Zinfandel: Blackberry and vegetal aromas. Medium body, good acidity, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: J.J. Buckley Fine Wines (California), $49.99

2005 Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $36.00

2002 Zefina Zinfandel (Columbia Valley—Washington)
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $20.00

2004 Ridge Vineyards York Creek Zinfandel
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $33.00

2006 Sineann Old Vine Zinfandel (Columbia Valley—Oregon)
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $36.00

To learn more about Zinfandel—the grape, the wine, and its history, check out the ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) website.


Filed under: American Wine, California Wine, Oregon Wine, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wine Activities/Events, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25, Zinfandel

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