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Good Red Zin?

I have a friend who really like red zin. There's a special birthday coming up in March that would be the perfect time to give him a really special bottle. I'm willing to spend up to $50. Recommendations?

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  1. The Ridge Vineyards Zin bottling are traditionally very good and highly recommended, though I have to say that one of the best ZIns I've ever had was a Rosenblum Monte Rosso Vineyard. I've also always liked A. Rafanelli ZIns, but they're difficult to find outside the winery.

    1. Just about every Zinfandel produced by RIDGE VINEYARDS -- http://www.ridgewine.com/ -- would be a safe bet, but especially those with the following designations (in alphabetical order): Geyserville, Jimsomare, Lytton Springs (or any "Lytton" variation thereof), Pagani Ranch, York Creek.

      There are, of course, many other excellent Zinfandel producers, but you have to deal with what is available in Pennsylvania. That said, keep an eye out for the following wineries: Chateau Montelena, Dashe, Rafanelli, Robert Biale, Rosenblum Cellars, Saddleback Cellars, Spelletich Cellars, Storrs Winery, Storybrook Mountain, T-Vine Cellars, Turley Wine Cellars, Unti Vineyards, and Venge Vineyards, among others.


      1. I really enjoyed the Lytton Springs and Storybook Mountain as well. Hendry makes some nice zins as well, as does Carol Shelton, though I haven't had a new bottle of any of her zins recently.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Icantread

          Oh, damn! How could I have overlooked Carol????

          Yes, yes, YES! Carol Shelton is doing a GREAT job, as is Hendry. Thanks for catching those omissions.

          1. re: zin1953

            They're few and far between. I'm pretty surprised I was able to add with how thorough this wine group is.

        2. Zins come in different styles. My personal preference probably is for Rafanelli Zins, though those are lighter and more floral than most.

          Other producers I would be on the lookout for:

          Robert Biale
          Carol Shelton
          Ridge (particularly Lytton Springs)
          Rosenblum (particularly the Rockpile and Monte Rosso)

          or, you may be able to order a bottle of Guisseppe and Louisa directly from Martinelli, which could be your best bet if possible.


          Order a bottle or two from Sandler, if possible. Here is the website: http://www.sandlerwine.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: whiner

            I'd be surprised if you're not mailing list that you can just order the Martinelli G&L, aside from which I believe that PA still has not sorted out the whole direct-ship thing.

            In addition to those producers already mentioned (some of which are among my favorites too) I would also throw out there Seghesio, Hartford, Radio Coteau, JC Cellars.

            Some of these (Turley, Martinelli) may be tough to find for under $50 if you can find them at all in PA.

          2. Although you already have plenty of suggestions, what Zinfandel wines do you recall your friend enjoying in particular? As with most varietal wines, there are different styles. With Zinfandel, you'll see a style difference between Turley and Scherre, for example, or even between Biale and Ridge. Certainly between Storybrook Mountain and Martinelli.

            1. In addition to the other recs, Radio Coteau makes a delicious old vine zin from the Von Weidlich vineyard that is well worth seeking out.

              1 Reply
              1. re: vinosnob

                I agree, the R-C Von Weidlich if excellent. But I doubt you could find it as it is sold for the most part only on allocation lists. After all, they make less than 300 cases of it. (Luckly, I'm on the allocation list, so I buy it every year.)

              2. I am a big fan of Robert Biale. Many of his single-vineyard offerings are within that price range. I've had them all and each is unique (who says that one cannot detect terroir in a domestic wine?). You're friend will appreciate any of these.

                Now, there are a ton of other Zins that I love and consume all of the time. I am just a big fan of Biale. Talk to him for a minute, and you'll see the love that he puts into his wines.


                2 Replies
                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Bill - there has been some significant softening of prices for the Biale wines over here in San Diego. Are you seeing the same over there?

                  1. re: ibstatguy

                    Because of their allocation in the PHX market, we do not see many, except in the restaurants. Since I am in all (I think) of their winery "clubs," I do think that they have lowered some of the prices - maybe just not increased them at an earlier rate.

                    I tried to pick up some Black Chicken at retail (as I was about to go through MY stash), and was told that the two cases coming into AZ had already been spoken for by restaurants. I managed to get a 6-pack from a CA retailer, so all was not lost.

                    I don't usually follow the prices, as closely, as I should. In the past, it was buy whatever I really liked. I think I may become a bit more conscious of exactly what the price is, and what it was. Maybe by Summer, I'll have a better handle on that to answer your question.


                  1. I concur with the posters here and second anything by Ridge, I do not have the expertise or experience of Mr. Hunt-----if he suggests it, it's probably very good even accounting for the variabilities (sp) of taste.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: chris in illinois

                      Oh my suggestion was not in oppositon to anything by Ridge. I love everything that I can recall tasting. Pretty much the same for Rosenblum.

                      Matter of fact, I can only recall about 3 Zins (not talking about some of the truely mass-produced wines here), that I did not find something to like and this is full-spectrum on styles. It is a varietal that I enjoy 99% of the time.

                      To be clear, let me add my vote for Ridge and Rosenblum too. How many votes do I get?


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Thank you for your suggestion. I am a big fan of zins as well, though I tend to be in the minority in my circles.

                        1. re: Icantread

                          Sometimes that happens. I am a Franco-phile, and most of my circle just doesn't get it. That usually translates to more Burg's, etc., for me and wife at home. I know what NOT to bring to others' houses.

                          Doing a nice little Bourgone Blanc, as I type! My case will be consumed in house.

                          When I visit, I'll bring big, Cal-Cabs and Chards, and be done with it. BTW, I like those too. Craft it well, and make if from anything from Albariño to Zinfandel, and I'll probably find really good reasons to enjoy it.


                    2. I visited the Ridge Montebello vineyard this Saturday -- a must for any winelover, by the way. The view is gorgeous -- and I was surprised how much more complex most Ridge zins tasted compared to the one Ridge zon from Paso Robles that's pure zinfandel. The other zins have other grapes blended in.
                      I like Storybook Mountan as well.
                      If you're in Pennsylvania, a neighboring state may have a better wine selection.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: SteveTimko

                        Just to avoid confusion, though Ridge is primarily known as a zin producer, and their Santa Cruz tasting room is on Monte Bello Road, their "Monte Bello" bottling is a predominantly cabernet sauvignon blend (w/ other bordeaux varietals, no zin).

                        1. re: Frodnesor

                          That usually needs to be pointed out, and for the reasons that you state.

                          Still a great wine and worth the effort and $'s for most years, but primarily a Cab. It was the #2 wine in our last Meritage vs Bordeaux tasting. IIRC, it was the '85, and just lost out to the Joseph Phelps Insignia '01, but blew away an '85 Ch. Kirwan.

                          Thanks for that comment,


                      2. Here are a few of my choices:

                        Sineann Old Vine Zin
                        Seghesio Sonoma (despite the #10 designation on WS list, it is well worth the $18 an should be easy to find).

                        1. I really like Montevina zinfandels - their Terra d'Oro line is excellent and can sometimes be found in Cost Plus, at least here in California. I think this year their Home Vineyard and SHR blend are the best, although if you can find a 2004 Deaver Vineyard that WOULD be a find.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: DivaSheila

                            Deaver (Amador/Sierra Foothills) is great, but not widely distributed. Provides Renwood with a lot of its grapes now.

                            Same for Picchetti (Santa Cruz).

                            I did not mention these, because of the distribution network.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Still the best recommendation here is the Martinelli, which will be all but impossible to obtain.

                              Ridge's Geyserville (a blend, to be fair) was just ranked again on WS, as was the Mazzocco. For me, the Mazzocco was a bit too 'dry'.

                              I would also throw in the Bella Zins. Opened a 2001 on Saturday, and it was excellent.

                              For the money, Seghesio can't be beat.

                              1. re: aacharya

                                >>> Still the best recommendation here is the Martinelli . . . <<<

                                For YOUR palate, perhaps.

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  Of course. As you might have noticed, this is a site of opinions. No need to state the obvious (IMHO, in my opinion).

                                  And what was your point in responding to me? Do you not agree that the L&G Zin is not the best pick here? I liked your other two posts - this one, not so much.

                                  For MY palate, yes.

                                  1. re: aacharya


                                    My *style* preference actually lies with Rafanelli... but I agree with you -- I think I'm the person who suggested the Martinelli as the first choice if findable. Style aside, to me, Martinelli operates on a different level than any other Zin producer, period.

                                    *However* I really don't think Zin1953 meant any harm. There are various different styles of Zin and, while I don't want to speak for him, I don't think his comment was meat in any derogetory fashion, just to point out that Martinelli is made in a different enough style from sme others that not all -even afficionatos- will agree on who's Zin is best.

                                    1. re: whiner

                                      Thanks for the support! I do like Rafanellis as well!

                                      As I don't post often on this board, I'll defer to your knowledge of zin1953. I do agree we all won't agree on a Zin, I just felt his posting was, well, I'll let it go. :-)

                                    2. re: aacharya

                                      >>> Do you not agree that the L&G Zin is not the best pick here? <<<

                                      Personally? No, I don't, but that's neither here nor there. I wasn't responding to the OP with my OWN favorites, but rather with a selection of high quality wines that he had a reasonable chance of finding in Pennsylvania (and/or New Jersey and Delaware). I even listed some producers that I do not personally enjoy, but are indeed excellent examples of Zinfandel in *that* particular style.

                                      As with ANY wine, there is little agreement that X is "the best." That's why I *try* ( but, being human, don't always succeed) to avoid such absolutes in posts here (and elsewhere), without specifically including some qualifying statements (e.g.: "For me, this is the ultimate. YMMV").

                                      FWIW, Whiner got my comments exactly right. No offense was meant, nor intended.


                                      1. re: aacharya

                                        I've only had Martinelli Giuseppe and Luisa once. It was 16.9 percent alcohol. That's an extreme wine. I think there's a lot of people who aren't going to like it, including me.

                                        1. re: aacharya

                                          If everyone agreed that a certain wine was the "best" would that not be a bit boring ? For a better example of the near impossibility of defining "The Best" , visit one of the threads about "The Best Pizza in NYC".

                                2. The responses to this query are interesting because I believe that all of the wines listed are probably better than any of the wines previously experienced by someone who likes "red" Zinfandels.

                                  I immediately flee any establishment if I am requested to qualify what color of Zinfandel I would like to drink.

                                  Just to toss another bottle into the mix, Quivira makes a nice Zin.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: brave man

                                    And there is the Four Vines line. If I remember correctly, The Heretic is especially tasty.

                                    1. re: brave man

                                      Yes, I think that there was a thread on this, but might have been on the Not About Food board. Someone complained that the server either did, or did not, communicate that a particular Zin was red. Cannot recall the exact set of circumstances. Either way, it does point up the differences, and many wine lists, that cater to "mainstream" diners, will often offer one, or more White Zin. Too often, their wine lists will NOT offer any Rosés, but 2-3 White Zins - go figure.

                                      Don't be too harsh on the establishment. Their guests might well demand such fare. It does not mean that they do not offer great food, and also good wines, a few pages over.


                                      1. re: brave man

                                        Probably should have gone with my other reply, but the server is having problems with Edit, so here it goes.

                                        I thought the same thing too, but with a price range up to US$50, there ARE a lot of great Zins, in many different styles, to choose from.

                                        While I did not notice the OP's location, it does seem that someone mentioned PA. I do not know what is likely to be available there. IIRC, that state has some pretty strict limits on what is, and what is not, available. It would be like trying to recommend a Zin for someone in the UK. There, it would be some form of Woodbridge Zin (could still be OK), at £80 (and THAT would NOT be OK).


                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          I am from PA. However, DE and NJ are easily accessible. I appreciate all the suggestions. There seem to be some that are strictly Western US oriented, which is fine. There are also quite a few that I recall seeing in various stores in my tri-state buying area.

                                          1. re: bucksguy14

                                            So long as you have a broad supply line near-by, you should find some of the Zins listed here.

                                            Even in neighboring AZ, we do not see a broad range of Zins. Maybe it is just not perceived as a marketable varietal - bad move in my book, but I am not a distributor.


                                      2. As a fellow zin fanatic, I heartily advise Ridge, particularly the Lytton Springs. I have been a fan of that old vines vinyard from before Ridge took it over. In those days, the "winery" was a prefab metal barn. The Geyserville and Jimsomare are more elegant, less slam-mouth powerful, and probably unavailable.

                                        However, everyone knows Ridge. If you want to make a very strong impression, get your friend a little-known but really really good zin from Tulocay:


                                        A better source of balanced power and flavor and all around joyous wine does not exist. I.get mine at the winery and by mail order, and they might ship a bottle or three to you in PA, even if there is a law. Call up Bill Cadman and ask. He's the owner, winemaker, bottler, etc-er of this very small winery in Coombsville, Napa.

                                        edit: Holy moly! The Tulocay 2001 syrah is being end binned at $12!! Add it to your order.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: therealdoctorlew

                                          There are plenty of good Zins that cost under $50 (quite a bit under in fact) that should be relatively easy to find. Aside from the Ridge which everyone has already mentioned, I like the Seghesio Zinfandel Alexander Valley Home Ranch. You can also buy the Sonoma Coast bottling, which is also good, for even less. If you can find a bottle of the 2005 Orin Swift The Prisoner it would be an excellent choice for a Zin nut.

                                          1. re: dinwiddie

                                            I haven't had a Seghesio Zin in a long time but I always thought the Sonoma was a good qpr @ $15 (though now I think it is a it more) and I was always a fa of the Old Vines bottling.

                                            1. re: dinwiddie

                                              The Seghesio Sonoma County (not Sonoma Coast, I don't believe) is a very good wine for the price but would likely not be perceived as a "really special bottle".

                                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                                Seghesio Sonoma's price has gone up, but it's still a great value at the current price ( we pay around $18 in NJ) - our house red, as a rule.

                                                We've had some excellent other Seghesio's lately (the Cortina in particular), and some very nice zins from Bella and Mazzocco, as well as T-Vine when we can get it.

                                                Interestingly enough, the Seghesio that knocked us out recently was a bottle of "Venom", a 100% Sangiovese.

                                                1. re: Striver

                                                  Seghesio also makes a nice Barbera, one of the best I've had from California.

                                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                                    I thought I had the Seghesio Barbera, but was actually from Italy

                                                    re: http://winelibrary.com/reviewwine.asp...

                                                    1. re: Icantread

                                                      I like that one too, but they're two different beasts.

                                                      1. re: Frodnesor

                                                        thanks for the clarification. We had a discussion about this some months ago when I bought the Italian Barbera but no one knew if they were the same brand.

                                          2. Dear bucksguy14.....since you have some time to work on this , why don't you call Zena at Woodenhead and tell her what you need........you have received some excellent suggestions in response to your post , but if I needed an extra special bottle of Zin , I would buy Woodenhead....Zena may be able to get you a bottle with some bottle age on it , as opposed to only having the current vintage available......good luck .