An Ancient Zinfandel Sighting:

Medium ruby headed straight into garnet with amber edges.  A dried-spit ripeness initial blows off quickly revealing an intoxicating floral, gooey stuffed dessert bouquet with no flabbiness, bright and vibrant, with tons of acid and graphite minerality alongside pretty, fresh fruit.

My typical Zinfandel alarm-bells ceased chiming as soon as I stuck my nose into this.  This bargain Grocery Outlet wonder pops to the forefront of quality and value at a mere 13-8.

In the mouth, vapors of leather contribute to a round mouth-feel but that is where everything typical of stupid recent Zinfandel offerings from almost EVERY appellation comes to a crashing halt.  A little thin on fruit, with searing structure but not a teensy bit of obesity.  I hate to spend more time on what a wine is NOT rather than merely voicing its plusses, but unfortunately the current Zin situation in California predicate an almost universal understanding of ridiculous stupid pruney wines with no staying power or verve and the opposite of that is where this one shines.

Hey, if you prefer dumb over-wrought low-IQ 15-8 fatties as your go-to Zinfandel place-point, more power to you.  Who am I to judge.  Oh wait… I WILL judge you, because those–despite what almost every winery in California selling $40 zins with three gold medals at the fair will tell you–are NOT what the variety is capable of or should be known for.  Zinfandel CAN be made clean and lean and acidic–and it all-too-often occurs at the fringes of both label and price-point, something innocent consumers in the tasting room are often bullied into not admitting.  It helps to be over 40 to understand this.

I am not suggesting Zinfandel needs to taste like Claret–something I am often accused of because of my frequent rants against the current style.  But this little thing right here… well, just taste it and let me know how you NOW think about those tourist-bombs.  This is great Zinfandel.  Pure and simple.

2011 ANCIENT OAK CELLARS Zinfandel Russian River Valley Sonoma Co. 13.8


One thought on “An Ancient Zinfandel Sighting:

  1. My early introduction to wine was in the early 90’s working for catering companies in the Bay Area. I loved Ridge and Santa Cruz Mountian Winery zins and never thought of them as syrupy. I would tell people how I liked zinfandel and most only knew white zinfandel. The rise of zin popularity seemed like a good thing until the Smuckers style hijacked it. Now I’m on the lookout for the classic style of the grape. I bought a bottle of this and may not have given it enough time to open up. I may re-buy since reading your review. And if you have any recommendations on balanced, old-school zinfandels please post a comment.

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