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Rediscovering Zinfandel


Zinfandel is America's grape, but for some time now, big, bold, high-alcohol Zins with jammy fruit have dominated the landscape. I remember a time when that was not the case. Perhaps the folks at Quivera put it best when they wrote this about the variety's potential: "When grown in the right location and handled with care, it is as elegant and nuanced as any noble grape." That more subtle style is making a comeback, as these three wines prove.

2016 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Zinfandel, $21

Founded in 1972, this California Zinfandel pioneer was the first post-prohibition winery in the Dry Creek Valley. It's blended with Petite Sirah (20 percent), and you get a whiff of black pepper coloring the dried cherry and ripe-berry aromas. The palate is a mix of blackberry liqueur and dark chocolate with silky tannins on the finish. It's a classic California Zin.

2015 Edmeades Zinfandel, $16.99

Edmeades has sourced grapes from the coastal range of Mendocino County since the '70s. As with the Dry Creek, petite Sirah plays a significant role in this wine with its spicy, floral aromas of blackberry, cranberry, cherry and currant. Soft tannins add grip to this well-balanced, fruit-forward red, marked by lush berry and plum, with a hint of cola.

2015 Quivira Zinfandel, $21

This other Dry Creek Valley entry offers bright blueberry, dark cherry and plum aromas, with touches of herb and vanilla. You get a bit of spice on the concentrated palate with silky smooth, dark-berry fruit, balanced by just the right hit of acidity on the long finish. It's an elegant charmer that goes down easy—keep it in mind for summer barbecues.