Monthly Archives: July 2019

ZINFANDEL RATINGS FOR SUMMER

If you’re looking for that perfect zinfandel to bring to your next cookout, you have enough common sense to know you start with one labeled Dry Creek Valley. But with over 60 wineries crafting incredible expressions of zin, it’s hard to know just which one is right. For when you need to make a quick decision, and you can’t taste through hundreds of bottles (bummer…), we suggest turning to the ratings – professional and personal.

For this all-encompassing blog we’re combining the most recent Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast ratings, regional competitions, and the more casual Vivino Top 25 and local Throwdown marks – all in a variety of price points. Let it be known that ratings aren’t the ultimate decision whether a wine is a winner because many of our smaller wineries choose not to submit wines for ratings, and all of our palates are different so the final (and most important rating) comes from you!


Vivino’s Top 25 Zinfandels in the World Right Now

Ratings change weekly based on the best consumer reviewed wines in the Vivino app.

#8 Talty’s Dry Creek Valley Estate Zinfandel 2014 4.7/5

#23 Wilson Sydney Zinfandel 2016 4.6/5

#25 Bella Vineyards Barrel 32 4.6/5

 

Wine Spectator Ratings

“Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale is an attempt to help our readers understand our judgments of a wine’s quality. A wine rated 80-84, for example, was judged to be good (“a solid, well-made wine”), while one rated 85-89 is very good (“a wine with special qualities”). When assigning a score, the taster judges the wine’s structure, flavors and typicity (how well it reflects its grape variety, region and vintage). In order to eliminate bias, all reviews are done “blind”—that is, the taster does not know the producer or price.” – WineSpectator.com. Ratings from the June, 30, 2018 Report.

Armida Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Maple Vineyards 2015  88pts        $40

Armida Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Tina’s Block Maple Vineyards 2015      87pts        $48

Armida Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Poizin 2016        87pts        $25

Comstock Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2014   89pts        $42

Dry Creek Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Old Vine 2015           89pts        $35

Dry Creek Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Beeson Ranch Single Vineyard Series 2015  88pts        $45

Dry Creek Zinfandel Sonoma County Heritage Vines 2016   90pts        $24

Dry Creek Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley DCV2 Four Clones Vineyard Single Vineyard Series 2015           91pts        $42

Kinsella Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Spencer Vineyard 2014 86pts        $50

Kokomo Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Timber Crest Vineyard Winemaker’s Reserve 2015   91pts           $38

Kokomo Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2016      90pts        $28

Kokomo Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Pauline’s Vineyard 2016           91pts        $36

Mauritson Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2015  93pts        $37

Mazzocco Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Verano 2015  88pts        $32

Mazzocco Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Smith Orchard Reserve 2015            88pts        $52

Mazzocco Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Maple Reserve 2015 90pts        $60

Papapietro Perry Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2015   91pts        $43

Pedroncelli Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Mother Clone 2015 88pts        $20

Pedroncelli Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Bushnell Vineyard 2015      91pts        $25

Quivira Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2015       88pts        $25

Quivira Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Black Boar 2015            89pts        $48

Quivira Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Anderson Ranch 2015   90pts        $42

Ridge Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley East Bench 2015   90pts        $32

Ridge Lytton Springs Dry Creek Valley 2015  92pts        $40

Saini Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Olive Block Old Vine 2014 89pts        $38

Saini Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2016           90pts        $24

Seghesio Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Cortina 2015   94pts        $40

Truett Hurst Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Red Rooster Old Vine 2014           88pts        $37

Wilson Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Ellie’s 2015         88pts        $38

Wilson Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Nolan 2015         88pts        $42

Zo Wines Zinfandel 2017     92pts   $44

 

Wine Enthusiast Ratings

“Our reviewers assign ratings to all wines using the following scale: Classic 98-100: The pinnacle of quality. Superb 94-97: A great achievement. Excellent 90-93: Highly recommended. Very Good 87-89: Often good value; well recommended. Good 83-86: Suitable for everyday consumption; often good value. Acceptable 80-82: Can be employed in casual, less-critical circumstances. Wines receiving a rating below 80 are not reviewed. Although each of our reviewers is free to use their own rubric, we stress the importance of evaluating balance, length, intensity and complexity as the basis for our ratings.” Wine Enthusiast

Bella 2016 Lily Hill Estate Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)        93pts        $48

Bella 2015 Maple Vineyards Annie’s Block Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) 93pts            $55

Bella 2015 Florence Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)                 92pts        $40

Dry Creek Vineyard 2016 Old Vine Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)     90pts        $35

Dry Creek Vineyard 2015 Spencer’s Hill Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)         92pts        $42

Kokomo 2016 Timber Crest Vineyard Winemaker’s Reserve Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)     90pts        $40

Pedroncelli 2016 Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)    88pts        $26

Preston 2016 Estate Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) 91pts        $38

Preston 2016 Estate VZNI Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)     90pts        $42

Quivira 2016 Black Boar Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)      92pts        $48

Quivira 2016 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)             91pts        $25

Quivira 2016 Anderson Ranch Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)         87pts        $48

Sbragia 2016 Nonno’s Reserve Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)                        90pts        $44

Sbragia 2016 La Promessa Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)      87pts        $40

Sbragia 2015 Gino’s Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)     86pts        $34

Seghesio 2016 Bevill/Wolcott Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)         91pts        $50

Seghesio 2016 Cortina Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)                                     93pts        $40

Zo Wines 2017 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) 88pts        $38

 

Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Throwdown (Hosted by Dry Creek Vineyard)

This blind-tasting is comprised of dozens of Dry Creek Valley zinfandel architects, who taste brown-bagged zins and vote for their favorite in this festive evening.

3) Amista Vineyards

2) Talty Vineyards

1) F. Teldeschi Zinfandel

 

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

There are many classes in which wineries can submit their wines to for the SFCWC in a variety of pricing categories. Awards are given for Double Gold, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Best of Class and Varietal Sweepstakes. A public tasting is held for all winners in San Francisco that is open to the public.

Zinfandel: $17.00 – $22.99: 2019 Awards

Pedroncelli      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Mother Clone  19.00   Bronze

 

Zinfandel: $23.00 – $25.99: 2019 Awards

Armida            2017    Dry Creek Valley                     25.00   Silver

Saini Vineyards           2017    Dry Creek Valley                     24.00   Silver

 

Zinfandel: $26.00 – $28.99: 2019 Awards

Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut   2015    Dry Creek Valley                     27.00   Gold

Kokomo Winery          2017    Dry Creek Valley                     28.00   Silver

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley                     26.00   Silver

Pedroncelli      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Bushnell Vineyard       26.00   Bronze

Gustafson Family Vineyards   2016    Dry Creek Valley         Cuvee  28.00   Bronze

 

Zinfandel: $29.00 – $31.99: 2019 Awards

Pedroncelli      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Courage          30.00   Double Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Aguilera          29.00   Silver

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Briar    29.00   Silver

Forchini Vineyards & Winery  2016    Dry Creek Valley         Estate Grown & Bottled          30.00   Silver

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Wilson Winery 29.00   Silver

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Wilson Winery 29.00   Silver

 

Zinfandel: $32.00 – $34.99: 2019 Awards

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Warm Springs Ranch  34.00   Double Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Sullivan            34.00   Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Reserve Sonoma County         34.00   Gold

Amphora         2015    Dry Creek Valley         Gasparini-Beals Vineyard       34.00   Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Beasley            34.00   Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Seaton 34.00   Silver

Dutcher Crossing        2016    Dry Creek Valley         Proprietor’s Reserve   33.00   Silver

Geyser Peak Winery   2016    Dry Creek Valley                     32.00   Silver

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Verano 32.00   Silver

 

Zinfandel: $35.00 – $37.99: 2019 Awards

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Maria  36.00   Gold

Dry Creek Vineyard    2016    Dry Creek Valley                     35.00   Gold

Kokomo Winery          2017    Dry Creek Valley         Pauline’s Vineyard      36.00   Gold

Martorana Family Winery      2015    Dry Creek Valley                     36.00   Silver

 

Zinfandel: $38.00 – $40.99: 2019 Awards

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Nolan   38.00   Double Gold

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Old Vine Ellie’s            38.00   Double Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Reserve Aguilera        40.00   Gold

ZO Wines        2017    Dry Creek Valley                     38.00   Gold

Collier Falls     2014    Dry Creek Valley         Hillside Estate 38.00   Gold

Seghesio Family Vineyards     2016    Dry Creek Valley         Cortina            40.00   Silver

Sbragia Family Vineyards       2016    Dry Creek Valley         La Promessa    40.00   Silver

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         West Dry Creek           38.00   Bronze

Saini Vineyards           2016    Dry Creek Valley         Apple Block     38.00   Bronze

Saini Vineyards           2016    Dry Creek Valley         Olive Block      38.00   Bronze

Saini Vineyards           2016    Dry Creek Valley         Pear Block       38.00   Bronze

 

Zinfandel: $41.00 – $49.99: 2019 Awards

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Pony    42.00   Double Gold

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Carls    42.00   Gold

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Heartland        42.00   Gold

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Molly’s 42.00   Gold

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Forchini           42.00   Gold

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Sawyer 42.00   Gold

Capo Creek     2015    Dry Creek Valley         Eva’s Vineyard 42.00   Silver

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Sydney 42.00   Silver

Dry Creek Vineyard    2015    Dry Creek Valley         Spencer’s Hill Vineyard           42.00   Silver

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Treborce         42.00   Silver

Armida            2016    Dry Creek Valley         Maple Vineyards         42.00   Bronze

 

Zinfandel: $50.00 and Over: 2019 Awards

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Sydney 60.00   Double Gold

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Molly’s Reserve          60.00   Gold

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Tori’s Reserve 60.00   Gold

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Sawyer Reserve          60.00   Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Reserve Pony  60.00   Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Reserve West Dry Creek         56.00   Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Reserve Seaton           52.00   Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Reserve Warm Springs           52.00   Gold

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Reserve Maple            60.00   Silver

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Sullivan            52.00   Silver

Comstock Wines         2015    Dry Creek Valley         Old Vine          55.00   Silver

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Reserve Serracino       56.00   Silver

Mazzocco Sonoma      2016    Dry Creek Valley         Reserve Smith Orchard          52.00   Silver

Wilson of Dry Creek    2016    Dry Creek Valley         Carl’s Reserve 60.00   Silver

 

North Coast Wine Challenge – The Press Democrat

The judging methodology for this local wine competition is based on the wines being designated the ranking of Best of Class by Category, Best of County, and ultimately the Best of the Best as top award.  Panels are comprised of qualified members of wine media, wine buyers, sommeliers, winemakers, and wine educators. Medals awarded will be Double Gold and Gold. Golds will be converted into a point score above 90 and all 90+ point wines will get a marketable positive comment from the judging panel it was judged by. Winners are invited to pour at the North Coast Wine & Food Festival for the public which features not only wineries, but local food vendors and musicians as well!

Gold Medal

Dutcher Crossing 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Zinfandel         93pts

Geyser Peak Winery 2016 Winemaker Select Zinfandel       91pts

Mazzocco Sonoma 2016 Briar Zinfandel        90pts

Mazzocco Sonoma 2016 Seaton Zinfandel     93pts

Mazzocco Sonoma 2016 Beasley Zinfandel   94pts

Pedroncelli 2016 Courage Zinfandel  92pts

Truett Hurst 2016 Estate Zinfandel Reserve 97pts

Truett Hurst 2017 Three Vineyards Zinfandel            95pts

Wilson of Dry Creek 2016 Zinfandel 91pts


You can purchase these wines directly from the winery either at the tasting room or online, by calling your local specialty wine shops or a handful of these wineries are in distribution across the United States! Here are the above mentioned wineries’ websites for quick access –

Amista Vineyards www.amistavineyards.com

Amphora Wines www.amphorawines.com

Armida Winery  www.armida.com

Bella Vineyards & Wine Cave www.bellawinery.com

Capo Creek Winery www.capocreekranch.com

Collier Falls www.collierfalls.com

Comstock Wines www.comstockwines.com

Dry Creek Vineyard www.drycreekvineyard.com

Dutcher Crossing Winery www.dutchercrossingwinery.com

Francis Ford Coppola  www.francisfordcoppolawinery.com

Forchini Vineyards & Winery  www.forchini.com

Geyser Peak Winery   www.geyserpeakwinery.com

Gustafson Family Vineyards www.gfvineyard.com

Kinsella Estates www.kinsellawines.com

Kokomo Winery www.kokomowines.com

Martorana Family Winery www.martoranafamilywinery.com

Mauritson Wines www.mauritsonwines.com

Mazzocco Sonoma www.mazzocco.com

Papapietro Perry www.papapietro-perry.com

Pedroncelli Winery www.pedroncelli.com

Preston Farms & Winery www.prestonfarmandwinery.com

Quivira Vineyards www.quivirawine.com

Ridge Vineyards www.ridgewine.com

Saini Vineyards www.sainivineyards.com

Sbragia Family Vineyards www.sbragia.com

Seghesio Family Vineyards  www.seghesio.com

Talty Winery www.taltyvineyards.com

F. Teldeschi Winery www.teldeschi.com

Truett Hurst Winery www.truetthurst.com

Wilson of Dry Creek www.wilsonwinery.com

Zo Wines www.zowines.com


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Your Cheat Sheet to Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

Besides looking at the bottle and seeing Dry Creek Valley printed right there on the label, we wanted to find out what makes Dry Creek Valley zinfandel is so recognizable and unique. So we asked the experts themselves – our growers and winemakers. Dry Creek Valley zinfandel thrives in our unique AVA thanks to the diverse soil, changes in elevation, climate and 100+ years of experience with growing the variety sure helps too. For full quotes from Nalle Winery, A. Rafanelli Winery, Kokomo Winery, Pedroncelli Winery, Dutcher Crossing Winery, Dry Creek Vineyard and Comstock Wines, continue reading past the infographic. 


What Makes Dry Creek Valley Zinfande Uniquel Infographic

 


Thanks to our vintners for sharing your invaluable insight on Dry Creek Valley zinfandel. We asked them a simple (not so simple) question to help provide details for the above infographic. That question was,  “what do you think makes Dry Creek Valley zinfandel so distinctive?” And here’s there full responses…

Doug Nalle, Nalle Winery

“The Dry Creek appellation has four quadrants that give Zinfandel different characteristics from port-like jammy, to full-throttle black fruit, to raspberry-strawberry to peppery-cherry Koolaid. Overlay this with multiple soil variations that are predominantly well-drained, and many aspect orientations, and you have a very complex ‘climat’. “

I’d also like to add that Dry Creek has a significant amount of historical old-vine Zin vineyards which are recorded in the Historical Vineyard Society: https://historicvineyardsociety.org/. Our Estate Old-Vine Zin vineyard is included: https://historicvineyardsociety.org/vineyard/henderlong-ranch. The HVS defines anything older than 50 years as an old-vine site (ours is 92 years old).  In some cases old vines carry a greater sense of place and tend to be more balanced in terms of production, yielding more concentration and depth in the final wine.

Shelly Rafanelli, A. Rafanelli Winery

Growing…. A temperamental grape that reflects the growing season and Mother Natures’s influences.  This makes every year unique and each vintage different, then the winemaker can personalize it with their own style of wine making.  Zinfandel likes to grow wings or shoulders which we cut off and then we like to separate canes and open up the fruit zone so that we can get as much even ripening as we can, something Zinfandel does not like to do naturally.  We also thin down the amount of fruit clusters after verasion.  This entails going through the vineyard multiple times during the growing season.  As growers we become very close to each and every vine.

Zinfandel has a great history and there are many old vines that are dry farmed, and also still managed in the head pruned style.  I do not know too many other varietals that are grown like this and still producing at 100 years old.  If only they could talk!

When I finally decide to pick our Zin grapes, they are usually one of the first reds to come in.  We do hand sorting and open top fermentation.  Their sugar/alcohol can be hard to predict because they like to soak up overnight in the tank, and they are known for their stickiness (stuck fermentation).  This can make for a lot of sleepless nights, but once they are finished they are a very rewarding wine.  The jammy fruit, balance and food friendliness is what makes Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel so wonderful.  You can drink them alone, with a meal, on the young side, or choose to age them.  They are a true reflection of their terroir and the people who have planted and farmed them in the valley for generations.

DCV Zinfandels can never be called generic or boring and I feel this is the best valley to grow them in:)

I also have been tasting and showcasing some of our older Zins,  1988, 1987, 1999.  They were great, and a true testament that Zin can age well!Erik Miller (Kokomo Wines) at Passport Vineyard Tour

Erik Miller, Kokomo Winery

We are the Goldilocks Valley! Not too warm (Alexander Valley) and not too cool (Russian River Valley) bit just right!

We also have a lot of diversity in our Zinfandel from the East side to the West side and the benches and hillsides to the valley floors.

Montse Reece, Pedroncelli Winery

Valleys in general, offer the most complex soils to grow grapes and Dry Creek Valley is not an exception. Zinfandel  grown in the Dry Creek Valley shines for its uniqueness and complexity. Our Zinfandels  show higher aromatics like spices and bold rich flavors. Making Zinfandel in Dry Creek Valley is not an easy task, you need to be familiar with the weather dualities, cool nights and  hot days  and monitor closely the maturation of the grape. Once in the cellar, Zinfandel benefits of slow fermentations to showcase all its potential. In bottle, Dry Creek Zinfandel is a fest for the flavor seekers, baking spices and berries dominate Dry Creek Zins.

Nick Briggs, Dutcher Crossing Winery

The soils play a role. Dry Creek displays its own unique soil types/makeups. The weather and micro climates also play a big role. We see lots of morning fog that burns off and can end in days well over 100 degrees F. Normally we also get afternoon breezes that help to cool everything down and then nighttime temperatures can drop all the way back down to the 60’s or even 50’s. These big temperature swings and fog help create some of the ripeness Dry Creek is known for while allowing the fruit to mature at a slow enough pace as well as helping to retain some of that natural acidity. We are also lucky enough to have growers who are willing to go the extra mile and dry farm there vines. This leads to lower yields of more intensely flavored bunches.

Tim Bell, Dry Creek Vineyard

I’ve worked with Zin from Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, and I really do think Dry Creek Valley Zin is the best.  What makes it distinctive?  Hard to say exactly, but I think the fact that we are at a nice balance of warm days and cool nights (Region II/Region III, I believe) gives us that special character in our Zinfandel.  We get beautiful red fruit flavors that don’t turn pruney with more spice and bramble/briar patch/sage character than any other Zinfandel region I’ve worked with.  I feel like we also get more even ripening on this notoriously uneven ripening variety.

Chris Russi, Comstock Wines

I believe Dry Creek Valley is one of the premier places in the world to grow Zinfandel.  Zinfandel needs this heat, during the growing season, for the fruit to reach full potential, which is the ripe, red fruit characteristics paired with the savory, black pepper attributes we find in the wine.  The fertile, alluvial soils help maintain the vigor even in the oldest vines in the valley, which can be well over 100 yrs old, and still producing fruit with incredible concentration.

 

 

 


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