Zinfandel (also known as Primitivo) is a variety of black-skinned wine grape. DNA fingerprinting has revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grape Crljenac, as well as to the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Apulia (the "heel" of Italy), where it was introduced in the 18th century. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, where it became known by variations of the name "Zinfandel". The grapes typically produce a robust red wine. The grape's high sugar content can be fermented into levels of alcohol exceeding 15 percent. The taste of the red wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruit flavors like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas and in wines made from the earlier-ripening Primitivo clone.
- Item #: i_200920Bottle Size: 750mlSuch an even and extended maturation period allowed for the outstanding flavor development so apparent in this beautifully balanced and structured wine. The aromas of briary wild blackberry and strawberry continue in the mouth with subtle notes of brown sugar and caramel. Inclusion of Rhône varietals in the blend adds refinement and spicy and earthy notes. Completely dry with just over 14% alcohol and great acidity, it is a Zinfandel for the table. Pair with grilled meats, barbeque pork, charcuterie and aged cheddar cheese.
- Item #: i_200890Bottle Size: 750mlBob Tillman searched for several years for the site where he could plant a truly world-class vineyard. After the family moved to the Central Coast of California and tasted the wines coming out of Paso Robles, they knew they found the right region! In 2003, Bob found this beautiful hilltop property on Adelaida Road that would become Alta Colina. All the grapes on this property are organically farmed, and the fruit is so amazing that other Central Coast producers such as McPrice Myers, Sans Liege, and Paydirt get fruit from Alta Colina.
- Item #: i_200655Bottle Size: 750mlA blend of 65% Zinfandel and 35% Petite Sirah, sourced from Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Livermore. This rich, dark, dense wine presents as dark purple-red in the glass. The bold, jammy, ripeness of the Zinfandel is well balanced with the blue-black notes of the Petite Sirah. On the nose, you are greeted with the essence of blackberry pie, black cherry, graphite and a hint of herbaciousness. On the palate, this wine is inky and thick while maintaining brightness and balance. Notes of marionberry, bramble and a hint of black pepper coat your mouth in an assertive, rich and lingering way.
- Item #: i_201510Bottle Size: 750mlMaple Vineyards contains 27 acres of exceptional head-trained zinfandel, on the high bench land in the heart of Dry Creek Valley. The oldest block was planted in 1910, linking Armida's current wines to the rich history and traditions of the early immigrants of Dry Creek Valley. David Rafanelli continues these traditional, labor intensive farming techniques today, personally managing the farming as did Tom and Tina Maple before him. The sandy-loam riverbed soil has incredible drainage, allowing all nutrients and rains to reach down to the deep roots. The old-vines aren't irrigated, causing a high level of stress on the vines before harvest, creating small grapes with big flavors, and continues the decades long practice of sustainability for Maple Vineyard.
The inky-indigo color suggests the depth of flavors to follow. Wild blackberry, dried cranberry and brown sugar aromas tickle your nose. Hints of cedar and cinnamon tease and meld effortlessly with the vibrant fruit flavors. The wine begins with a lush soft entry bringing fresh tart cherries and raspberry jam into focus, then follows with boisterous red current. The seductive finish isn't cloying and sweet, but rather refined, lush and succulent, and the integrated tannins and great balance of savory and spice will continue to gain in complexity over the next fifteen years.
- Item #: i_200700Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96-99ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 96-99 POINTS - "A barrel sample, the 2017 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard comes from a warmer site in the Russian River (usually picked second after Sugar Shack) planted to Montrachet clone on very rocky, gravelly soils—the vines really struggle here. It has quite a decadent nose of pineapple upside down cake, almond croissant, peach cobbler and apple crumble with hints of marzipan and orange blossoms. The palate is full-bodied, rich, powerful and opulent in the mouth, with a wonderful oiliness to the texture and a seamless backbone of freshness to give it just enough lift, finishing very long and savory. This is a powerhouse that should offer amazing aging potential."
ANTONIO GALLONI 95-98 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard is incredibly expressive. Montrachet clone in this hillside Russian River site yields a Chardonnay of real distinction and nuance. A hint of reduction adds brightness to a core of candied orange, butter, vanillin and tropical notes. Even with all of its intensity, the 2017 is bright, focused and wonderfully lifted. Readers who can find it should not hesitate."
- Item #: i_215520Bottle Size: 750mlStructured and full-bodied with a subtle hint of spice. On the palate, dense, dark fruit characteristics are reminiscent of blueberry pie. Notes of toasted oak and vanilla meld with a plush, lingering mouthfeel.
- Item #: i_204170Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 93It’s easy to say that Morgan Twain-Peterson was born into the wine industry… so let’s start there. Morgan is the son of legendary Ravenswood winemaker and Zinfandel legend Joel Peterson. At the age of 5, Morgan was able to distinguish Merlot from Zinfandel, and being the son of Joel, that made for some early learning of winemaking basics and eventually the essential techniques for fine winemaking. But Joel didn’t stop there. He went onto other wineries and regions to learn other methods, like working in the McLaren Vale region of Australia, and even working as a visiting winemaker at Château Lynch Bages in Bordeaux. Oh yeah…and he passed the Master of Wine exam!
Morgan only works with high quality fruit from high quality sites and ferments them in open top redwood and stainless steel fermenters then ages them in the sexiest French barrels from the coldest forests. The results are tremendous wines that range in style from opulent to elegant, yet taste exceptionally balanced!
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - "Old-school meets new in this Zinfandel, with just enough polish and plumpness to match the briary rusticity. Offers expressive black cherry, smoky anise and white pepper flavors. Drink now through 2024."
- Item #: i_206780Bottle Size: 750mlVinous Media: 95+A blend of 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc.
ANTONIO GALLONI 95+ POINTS - "Blankiet's 2014 Rive Droite Paradise Hills Vineyard is just as impressive from bottle as it was from barrel. Dark, rich and inviting, the 2014 wraps around the palate with pure sensuality and class. Dark stone fruit, smoke, mocha and espresso are all fused together in a deep, beautifully layered wine. The 2014 is at once rich but not at all heavy. In many ways, it captures the very best the vintage has to offer."
- Item #: i_232600Bottle Size: 750MLBranham's 2015 "Jazz" trio continues to bring down the house! Presenting their group from the Napa Valley: 50% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Sitting in for a short solo is the accomplished "Branham Rockpile fruit." Encore after encore, this proprietary blend never fails to satisfy the eye and palate. Refined melodies of black-plum, dark berries and coffee notes are enhanced by a purposeful symmetry of balanced tannins and acidity. Pair with music!
- Item #: i_206620Bottle Size: 750MLIn 1980 when the Brown family stumbled upon their now renowned property in the Chiles Valley sub-appellation of the Napa Valley, it was but a ghost ranch up the hill east of Rutherford. Five years later they planted vineyards and for a decade they farmed and sold wine grapes. In 1995 the second generation, encouraged by growing demand for their fruit, established the Brown Estate label and began making their own wines.
Brown's flagship Napa Valley Zinfandel historically has borne the responsibility of being the ultimate representative of what their property and its unique microclimate have to offer — the cream of the Brown Estate zinfandel crop blended into one stellar wine. Rich magenta hue in the glass. Nose opens with abundant floral notes of hibiscus, dried rose petals, and violet followed by fruit notes of black plum, blackberry, and dried orange peels. Nose finishes with fresh cut wood/sawdust, fir balsam, and a hint of tangy soy/umami. Medium-plus palate layered with bramble fruit up front, leading into dried herbs, exotic spices, and dusty earth. Long finish with well-balanced acid and tannins. Drink now through 2028.
- Item #: i_206480Bottle Size: 750MLWine Enthusiast: 91 PointsWINE ENTHUSIAST 91 POINTS - "This is a great value for a wine of such quality, made with a handful of Petiter a wine of such quality, made with a handful of Petite Sirah that grows in the same field-blended site. Layered and grippy, it shows structured blackberry and mocha flavors around secondary tones of leather and earth. Editors’ Choice."
The grapes are a mix of those off their estate vineyards and grapes from other select Napa Valley low-yielding vineyards. Dry-farmed for over 20 years, their 4.5 acre estate block consists of mature thirty-seven year old vines which typically yield around 2.5 tons/acre of hillside fruit. Interspersed among the head-trained vines are a handful of Petite Sirah vines representing perhaps 5% of the total vines in this block. A traditional field companion to Zinfandel in pre-prohibition California vineyards, Petite Sirah contributes pepper, color, and tannin structure to the wine.
- Item #: i_206100Bottle Size: 750mlBuena Vista joined the Boisset Family Estates collection in May 2011. Today, Jean-Charles Boisset is returning Buena Vista to its original glory with the complete restoration and re-opening of the champagne cellars, which have been unavailable to the public for over 20 years. Jean-Charles is 100% dedicated to doing whatever is needed to showcase the quality of the wines from this property. The wines of Buena Vista are being driven to greater heights under Winemaker Brian Maloney and Consulting Winemaker David Ramey, including the re-introduction of Sonoma wines, in honor of Buena Vista's role in the discovery of Sonoma as one California's great terroirs.
As the name would imply, this wine is in honor of The Count of Buena Vista, a tireless and passionate devotee of Californian wines. From prestigious vineyards across Sonoma, The Count's intriguing varietals intermingle seamlessly to produce an elegant and complex wine. Individual lots of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Merlot were fermented separately and aged for 16 months in American, Hungarian, and French oak barrels before final assemblage. The wine's bouquet opens beautifully with rich aromas of black currant, cherries, grilled meat, pepper, and just a hint of espresso. Smooth on the palate, the wine offers flavors of red fruit compote, plum, raspberries, and blackberry that give way to cardamom on the long, silky finish.
- Item #: i_207370Bottle Size: 750mlWith Carlisle's production down in 2015 and since there is no 2015 DuPratt (due to inclement weather), Carlisle decided to hold on to this wine and release it a year later than normal. So in a sense, they've done some of the aging for you! Medium-dark to dark garnet-ruby, this Zinfandel has a fascinating, complex nose of red cherry, cranberry, pine forest, and orange rind. On the palate, an explosion of red cherry liqueur, briar, and cracked black pepper. Classic DuPratt, this wine finishes very clean and long with plenty of verve and snap. For a Zinfandel, this will have a long life. Drink anytime from 2019 through 2030.
- Item #: i_207350Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 92Vinous Media: 94Winery's Tasting Notes: "Dark to very dark ruby-garnet. Much deeper in color than many other Zinfandels in this vintage. An intense nose of blood orange, raspberry (zinberry!), and licorice allsorts. Very expressive and very striking. Totally seamless and polished on the palate with flavors of orange rind and red berry fruit. This is an incredibly nuanced and texturally alluring Zinfandel that is more expressive and approachable than the 2014 rendition. Drink from release to 2024."
ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - "A gorgeous wine, the 2015 Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard is bright and punchy, with plenty of red cherry, raspberry and floral notes pushed forward. Silky and racy in the glass, this mid-weight Zinfandel is impeccable. The Carlisle is super-finessed in 2015. As usual, the Carlisle is predominantly Zinfandel, with about 12% mixed white and black grapes (a total of 40 varieties), all co-fermented."
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - "Supple and refined, with floral blueberry, mint and clove aromas and layered black raspberry and savory pepper flavors that take on complexity on the finish. Drink now through 2027. 788 cases made."
- Item #: i_207270Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 94Vinous Media: 92Planted in 1934 shortly after the repeal of Prohibition by Celestino Papera, this vineyard is a bit of an anomaly in that it contains much less in the way of mixed blacks than we typically see in vineyards of this era. And interestingly, the majority of the mixed blacks that are present is Carignane. Carignane is a late ripener and high in acidity making it a curious choice for this very cool site. Nevertheless, it seems to work, producing a powerfully elegant Zinfandel. Twenty percent new French oak. Filtered but unfined.
Very dark ruby-garnet, almost opaque. Head-turning aromas of framboise and kirsch are complemented by notes of fresh tobacco leaf, spun sugar, and spearmint leaves. What a sniff! On the palate, fullbodied but my-oh-my, so seamless, so well-balanced. Flavors of red currant, macerated cherries, and a hint of pleasing herbaceousness build through the long, smooth finish. Truly one of our top Papera Zinfandels to date. Enjoy from release through 2024.
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "A compelling wine, with expressive blackberry and briary underbrush aromas and refined yet evocative cherry, smoky mint and pepper aromas that linger toward plump tannins. Best from 2019 through 2027."
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "The 2015 Zinfandel Papera Ranch offers a good initial burst of dark cherry and plum fruit, but then has a bit less persistence follow-through on the mid-palate and finish. Succulent and forward, the 2015 looks like it will drink well upon release. This is not an especially subtle style."
- Item #: i_207380Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 92Under the expert farming of organic specialist Phil Coturri, Rossi Ranch has quickly returned to its former glory. Lots to be excited about here, as the fruit comes from vines planted in 1910! Medium-dark ruby-garnet. With aeration and swirling, aromas of kirsch liqueur and briery spice emerge from the glass. On the palate, tightly coiled but at the same time very poised and polished with no rusticity. Red fruits are echoed in the energetic, mineral-laden finish. Exceptionally well-balanced, this wine will age well and develop further complexity. When to drink? Wait a couple of years and then enjoy from 2020 to 2026.
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - "Features briary notes in spades, plus vibrant black raspberry, cracked pepper and anise flavors. Best from 2019 through 2027."
- Item #: i_207330Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95Wine Spectator: 93Vinous Media: 91-94Carlisle Winery is a boutique producer owned and operated by husband and wife team Mike and Kendall Officer. Their focus is on old vine Zinfandel and Rhone varietals (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre) crafting wines that are truly distinctive from one another showcasing the terroir of the single vineyard sites they produce from. After a few of our staff members tasted through the current line-up with Mike himself, it was unanimous amongst us that this producer has earned the high scores they have been receiving on all their wines!
Mike's sister introduced him to wine at the age of 19 and he was immediately hooked. His passion grew from tasting and collecting wines to teaching a wine appreciation class. From there he began making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen with his wife Kendall. After moving to Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, Mike and Kendall launched the Carlisle Winery and Vineyards in 1998 with the goal of making small lots of distinctive, world class wines from some of California's most exceptional vineyards. To help achieve this goal they brought in his old college friend Jay Maddox who graduated with honors from U.C. Davis in viticulture and enology. Jay brought not only a wealth of knowledge but a keen palate and a desire for perfection.
The Montafi Ranch vineyard was planted in 1926. Located farther up the eastern bench of the Laguna de Santa Rosa flood plain, literally bordering Santa Rosa city limits, this vineyard is mostly Zinfandel but does contain a healthy amount of Alicante Bouschet and Grand Noir de la Calmette. A little Petite Sirah, Peloursin, Syrah, and Petit Bouschet are interspersed as well. Being a higher up the bench, Montafi Ranch tends to be picked earlier, generally around the first week of October.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "From humble beginnings in 1998, Carlisle continues to go from strength to strength, growing from a solid philosophy of sourcing mainly Zinfandel and Rhône varieties from ancient vineyards in Sonoma and further afield. So, most of the vines used by Mike and Kendall Officer were planted from 1888 to 1934. From 2013, they have their own winery in which to create their magic—the old Robert Mueller winery in Russian River Valley."
"A blend of 89% Zinfandel mixed with about eight different other varieties, from vines planted in 1926, the medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch offers up a pronounced creme de cassis and blueberry pie nose with touches of camphor, cardamom and dusty soil. The palate is big, rich, full and fruity with loads of earthy notions and a plush texture, finishing with great freshness. 711 cases produced."
WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Dynamic and appealingly briary, with plush raspberry, bay leaf and orange peel flavors that build richness toward polished tannins. Drink now through 2024. 704 cases made. "
ANTONIO GALLONI 91-94 POINTS - "The Carlisle 2016s are quite possibly the most brilliant wines I have ever tasted from Mike Officer. A move towards picking on the earlier side than in the past along with the natural virtues of the vintage come together to yield a set of thrilling, captivating wines of the very highest level. According to Officer 2016 was shaping up to be similar to 2015, until cool weather arrived in August and slowed down ripening, which, in turn, extended hang time by a few weeks. The only problem with the 2016s is that readers may not be able to buy all the wines given the vast number of compelling bottlings in this range. I would be thrilled to drink any of these wines any day of the week. They are every bit that outstanding. Even better, pricing remains exceedingly fair by any standard or measure. Readers who can find these wines should not hesitate, as they are truly magnificent."
"A dark, powerful wine, the 2016 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch shows the clear influence of the 11% mixed blacks that are planted here. Black cherry, lavender, spice, menthol, licorice and leather notes flesh out in a potent, virile wine endowed with serious character and complexity, not to mention tons of potential once the tannins soften a bit further."
- Item #: i_207390Bottle Size: 750mlBlending is always surprising. You can have two great components for a wine, both worthy of being bottled on their own, but when fully blended together, they do not result in the best wine. As a result, sometimes a portion of a component gets left out. Such was the case when it came to blending Carlisle's "Big 3" – Carlisle, Papera, and Montafi. Fortunately, the "leftovers" of these three wines melded seamlessly together to create an insanely yummy wine showcasing the terroir of this cool growing area of the Russian River Valley. Twenty-six percent new oak and bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Tasting Note: Medium-dark to dark garnet-ruby. Intense aromas of cherry, cactus pear, pomegranate, and a subtle note of baking spice. Full-bodied but so well-balanced. Flavors of red and black fruits linger in the long and powerful finish. Compared to the '16, slightly darker in profile yet this offers more immediate enjoyment. Drink this lip-smackin' Zinfandel from release through 2026.
ANTONIO GALLONI 91-94 POINTS - "The 2017 Zinfandel Piner-Olivet Ranches is absolutely gorgeous. Silky and inviting, with lovely creaminess, the Piner-Olivet Ranches has so much to offer. Juicy dark red berry, blood orange, mint, spice and pomegranate infuse a super-expressive Russian River Zinfandel endowed with tremendous class. The 2017 is a blend of fruit from Carlisle, Papera and Montafi, all top sites in their own right. This is one of the highlights in the range."
- Item #: i_207420Bottle Size: 750mlCarlisle's not-quite-so annual QPR champ is back! Using some wonderful century-old Russian River Valley Zin not far from Limerick Lane and some relatively young, 64-year-old Zinfandel from Alexander Valley as a base, Carlisle stole bits and pieces of our Rossi, DuPratt, and Dry Creek Zins along with a little Petite Sirah from Two Acres to create this delicious over-achiever. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Tasting Note: Medium to medium-dark ruby-garnet. Intense aromas of red cherries, clove, and a pleasing earthy note. Medium-bodied, flavors of cherry and baking spices build to a gently tannic finish. Given its price point, one might conclude that this wine is meant for early consumption. Not necessarily so! While it can certainly be enjoyed now, this wine has plenty of structure to age and develop gracefully. Hence, we’d recommend giving it another year or two in bottle and then enjoying through 2028.
ANTONIO GALLONI 90-93 POINTS - "The 2017 Zinfandel (Sonoma County) is pliant and super-expressive, not to mention incredibly delicious. A beam of bright acids gives the wine energy and a surprising amount of vitality as well. Medium in body and supremely gracious, the Sonoma Zinfandel over-delivers big time. The Sonoma County is built on a core of fruit from the Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley, plus touches of Rossi, Du Pratt and Dry Creek Zinfandels and drops of Two Acres Petite Sirah. More importantly, the 2017 is an absolutely gorgeous wine. It's as simple as that."
- Item #: i_277760Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 91WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "Dark and brooding, with black cherry and bittersweet chocolate aromas and plump flavors of orange zest, black licorice and smoky cracked pepper. Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane and Viognier. Drink now through 2027."
- Item #: i_277784Bottle Size: 750MLThe name Rocky Reserve comes from the deep red, rocky soils of the Florence Vineyard, 1400 feet above Lake Sonoma and Dry Creek Valley. This is a more elegant and restrained Zin, worthy of five or more years of cellaring, though it is packed with fragrant black and blue berry fruits.Nice dark-red in color, big blueberry-blackberry fruit, spicy-chocolatey oak, nicely focused acidity enhances mineral flavors, elegantly structured tannins for aging, super plush long finish!
- Item #: i_244250Bottle Size: 750mlIn the glass, the nose is dominated by cocoa, tobacco, and dried cherry. The woodsy, briary character of old vine Zinfandel is quite prominent but with time unmasks beautiful notes of lavender, cassis, and fresh mint. Fresh cranberry, a hallmark of the Primitivo in the blend, mingles with roasted walnut notes and subtle hints of cinnamon and clove on the palate. The supple tannins are present throughout and amble between earthiness and minerality. The transition to the finish is decidedly old world in style, with dark chocolate, cigar box, and a garrigue character that's rare for American wine. Chefs take note.
- Item #: i_219600Bottle Size: 750mlWinery Notes: "79% Zinfandel, 11% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah, 4% Grenache. Lucky boxcars with this Zinfandel-dominated blend, which tumbles out on the tongue with dark cherries, fresh, ripe strawberries, a double dip of chocolate and vanilla, and the cool grip of moto jacket (aka leather). Paradise awaits. "