Zinfandel Challenge Results
The results are in! At the bottom of this post, you’ll find the final rankings and links to the individual wine reviews.
Across the board, the Ravenswood Zinfandel offerings did really well. They all showed more power, body, and flavor than average. I’d certainly consider any of their bottles as a safe bet. Definitely worth exploring there. I think I’ll go back and pick up their Sonoma bottle to compare to the Napa and Lodi versions we tried this month. The Gnarled Vine and Rancho Zabaco were really nice as well.
In general, Zinfandel performed quite a bit better than Malbec in our $10 challenge. I found the average $10 Malbec to be overly acidic, overly sweet, or just unbalanced. And, although there were a couple of delicious bottles last month, many of them had just very simple generic fruit flavors.
(Click here to see the Malbec results summary.)
Thankfully, only a couple of the $10 Zinfandels fell into this same category. Instead, most of them were well balanced and displayed at least hints of typical Zinfandel flavors.
Of course, even the best of these $10 bottles isn’t quite going to be on the same level as a nice $25 or $50 bottle. (Think Ridge or Carlisle.) Flavor-wise, many of the value bottles do, indeed, provide interesting aromas and flavors. Maybe not quite as complex or strong as a more expensive bottle, but good enough to be interesting and enjoyable. Only the bottom few value bottles lacked interesting flavors or aromas. The real difference between the value Zinfandels and the expensive Zinfandels is in the structure. A more expensive bottle generally gives you more body, concentration, and balance. Just more oomph all around!
But, trust me, even without that $50 structure, the top few $10 bottles this month are more than worth your time. Pick a few of these up and dig in!
Links to individual reviews
#1 – Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi 2014 – $9.99 at Total Wine
Best flavor profile of the month… fruit, vanilla, hot cocoa, black pepper, yum.
#2 – Gnarled Vine Zinfandel 2014 – $9.99 at Total Wine
Great nose and flavors. Lacking a bit of power.
#3 – Ravenswood Zen of Zin 2014 – $8.49 at Total Wine
Nose of candied fruit and buttercream. Needs more oomph.
#4 –Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Napa 2014 – $11.99 at Total Wine
Earthy on the front of the palate and fruity on the back. Nice but doesn’t excite.
#5 – Rancho Zabaco Zinfandel Heritage Vines 2014 – $11.99 at Total Wine
Most complex aromas and flavors of the challenge. Slightly too much alcohol.
#6 – Oak Grove Reserve Zinfandel 2013 – $8.99 at Total Wine
Easy drinking and tastes like Smarties candies (chalk and cherry)!
#7 – Peachy Canyon Incredible Red Zinfandel 2014 – $9.79 at Total Wine
Roasted marshmallows on the nose. A bit too much acidity.
#8 – Bogle Vineyards Zinfandel – $7.97 at Total Wine
Total middle-of-the road crowd pleaser.
#9 – Coppola Red Label Zinfandel 2014 – $9.79 at Total Wine
Some nice baking spices on the nose, but a bit too sweet on the mid-palate.
#10 – McManis Family Vineyards Zinfandel – $9.49 at Total Wine
Basic fruit flavors. Too much acidity and overly dilute.
#11 – Cline Lodi Zinfandel – $9.29 at Total Wine
One dimensional with metallic edge.
(Click here to see the results of all of our other Value Tasting Challenges!)
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