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Barbera and Zin reccomendations

My wife and I joined the Jed Steele wine club after she fell for the Writer's Block Zinfandel and we've both been pretty pleasantly surprised. The Barbera and the Chardonnay have been really great. Anyone have any other Northern California/Lake County wines they really like? We both really like Zins and Barberas (Ca' di Pian (sp?) being our favorite).

Under 20 bucks would be best, but we'll splurge from time to time if it's worth it.

Also, any Barbera reccomendations?

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  1. Hello, Rancho Zabacco Dancng Bull zin is owned and distributed by Gallo, thus easy to find and a good value at 12-15, from vineyards in prime zin territory, the Dry Creek sub-appelation. I think Seghesio Home Ranch from the same area is also in that price range and worth trying. cheers

    1 Reply
    1. re: moto

      I think you are confusing Dancing Bull with some other Rancho Zabaco offerings. the DBs I've seen have all been from the "California" appellation, not Dry Creek or even Sonoma. That means the juice can come from anywhere.

      ed

    2. Be sure to try the Ridge single-vineyard bottlings. They usually price in the 25-40 range but in good years are some of the greatest values in world-class wines. Ridge Geyserville is a great bottle to start with... but I emphasize that these are vintage specific wines.

      1. Sorry, Moto, Ranco Zabaco is swill. There are many many good zins, from real winemakers, out there in that price range. Look for Easton, Sobon Estate, Abundance, Four Vines, Karly and Rosenblum. Jed Steele's 'Catfish' Zin is pretty tasty, too, if you want to stay in Lake County.
        As for Barbera, Renwood's 'Sierra Series' is a great value (under $10) and has some nice varietal character. From Italy, look for Michelle Chiarlo, Vietti, and Cantine Sant'Agata 'Baby',
        Those are three good ones that have pretty wide distribution.

        1. I assume the Ca di Pian you're referring to is the La Spinetta? AWESOME wine. Even better, and just about $4 more is the Sandrone. The Clerico is also kick-ass most vintages.

          1 Reply
          1. re: whiner

            Hard to go wrong with La Spinetta -- give their Pin a try too. It's very Italy meets California.

            Some other good Barbera producers I've encountered that you might also like are DeForville, Borgogno and Rocca.

          2. I wouldn't go so far as to call Rancho Zabacco swill, but only because I'm polite. It is not what I'd call a wonderful wine, even for the price.

            I would suggest that you try the Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County. They make an excellent Zin for about $20 that is easy to find. I am also a fan of Rosenblum Zins. If you can find it (they don't make a whole lot of it) try the Zinfandel Paso Robles Richard Sauret Vineyards.

            10 Replies
            1. re: dinwiddie

              The Rosenblum Richard Sauret is an excellent suggestion. And, within the context of finding a wine that is available in virtually every wine store in the country, the Seghesio is a great suggestion as well.

              1. re: whiner

                Why thank you andrew. :)

                1. re: dinwiddie

                  To all in regard to the Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull Zinfandel:
                  In the same price category, would you tend to recommend more highly
                  the Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel at $7.50?

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    Well, I wouldn't recommend it, but . . .

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Hey zin1953,

                      I have been buying this Ravenswood at Trader Joe's and the price is the best part. My local wine store (Boston area) carries Gnarly Head which is better, but not much, and costs more. And then I saw an ad for Gnarly Head in Food and Wine which made me wonder if it wasn't coming from Gallo or something similar. You seem to know your Zin- what's the story with Gnarly Head?
                      thanks

                      1. re: ginnyhw

                        Actually, although you don't mention which Ravenswood you're buying, the Gallo Sonoma Zinfandel is (IMHO) a much better wine than the Vintner's Blend Zin from Ravenswood . . .

                        "Gnarly Head" is a label from Delicato, a huge producer of wines based in California's Central Valley.

                        Gallo is the #1 wine company in the US, with annual case sales of 62 million (rounded). Constellation -- the owners of Ravenswood -- are second, with 57 million. Delicato is #13, with sales of two million . . .

                        1. re: zin1953

                          Ah Gallo- Hearty Burgundy by the jug was the 2 buck chuck of my youth. I am a white wine drinker - have been for years- but I'm trying to switch over to a red wine for the healh benefits (one being I don't drink as much red as I do white). Fortunately (or not for me) whites are less expensive and I am always finding new sauvignon blancs from New Zealand, So America, So Africa and California that I love. So I'm looking for a light, spicy red in the under 15 dollar price range .Zin is my favorite red and I will keep trying. I did enjoy a glass of 7 Deadly Zins at a restaurant but when it was available in our wine store it was in the 20 plus range.
                          So I guess I'll read on. Thanks for answering about the Gnarly Head.

                          Ginny

                          1. re: ginnyhw

                            Keep in mind the "old" Gallo Hearty Burgundy was always a blend of (primarily) Zinfandel and Petite Sirah . . .

                            Gallo Sonoma Zin sells in the $10-12 range.

                            1. re: zin1953

                              This little bit of information just floored me - I was a "hearty" drinker of Gallo Hearty Burgundy in college (jug size, please, with the convenient finger hold). When I "grew up" some of the first wines that made me become a more "serious" wine drinker (after my first trip to California wine country) were Sonoma Valley zins and Petite Sirahs from Foppiano and Stag's Leap.

                              I guess I hadn't strayed as far from my college days as I thought!

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Mick Unti told me Gallo Hearty Burgundy was mostly low grade grenache that yielded 9 tons to 12 tons an acre.

              2. While not Northern California or Lake County, Palmina (Santa Barbara County) makes an outstanding California Barbera. I pay $21.89 locally (SOCAL) for price comparison purposes. We have paired it up successfully with traditional Italian fare, but it also works well for summertime grilling.

                1. IMO, all the recommendations are excellent. However, don’t leave out Macchia in Lockeford (Mischievous is my favorite), Jessie’s Grove in Lodi (I like them all) and Fritz in the Dry Creek Valley. Mazzocco next door to Ridge has good zinfandel, also Cline “Ancient Vine” is inexpensive and reliably good.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: BN1

                    Ditto Cline Ancient Vines.... consistently one of the better zinfandels available under $20. In great years it can be a phenomenal wine.

                    1. re: Chicago Mike

                      Put me down for Cline Ancient Vines, Seghesio, and Rosenblum (NV Cuvee)

                      Seven Deadly Zins is pretty good too

                      1. re: sarge

                        Nice list. I used to like Gnarly Head, but the last vintage or two have been mediocre. I like all Rosenblum zins (on those rare accasions that I can afford the vineyard specific ones.

                  2. For Barbera, try Vino Noceto and Boeger.
                    I like Klinker Brick zin, too, and it's usually inexpensive.

                    1. For great Zin I second anything from Four Vines, Seghesio or Cline as being very affordable and just F#in delicious without being overripe. Montevina makes a great Amador County Barbera for about 10 bucks.

                      1. For around $16, Bonny Doon's "Cardinal Zin" is a good way to go. It's a consistently good wine, some years better than others, but overall it's never disappointed me or my wife, and we rarely agree on wines.

                        1. One of the very best Zinfandels I've had is the Gamba (Russian River). They do two bottlings - an estate 'Old Vine' and a single-vineyard 'Moratto'. These two wines drink like Cabernet with some tannins that enhance the ripe fruit flavors. I'm not sure how easy these are to find outside California, but if you see them on the shelf, I'd grab them.

                          An inexpensive Barbera tip would be the Runquist. From Amador County, I believe. Nice subtle coconut flavor alongside a chocolate Zin-like experience.

                          I bought both of these from http://www.porthos.com

                          1. You can buy Ridge Three Valleys Zin for well under $20, and it is a consistently wonderful wine. On the jammier, tangy side is the Rosenblum San Francisco Bay zin, also under $20.
                            On our last trip to Sonoma, we stopped in at Cline, which we never thought much of before, but their Ancient Vines Zin was rich, with a long finish, and great flavor and mouth-feel. Waay under $20.