Recently I attended the Zinfandel Experience (ZinEx) in San Francisco. The event has some of the best wine makers in California pouring their zinfandel. It is truly a zin lovers fantasy come true as there are hundreds of wine samples to try (we just recommend you don’t try all of them). It is definitely one of my favorite wine events to attend every year.
“This is a one-of-a-kind celebration of all things Zinfandel. For one weekend each year, wine enthusiasts are able to taste hundreds of Zinfandel styles from all of California’s growing regions. There’s simply nothing else like it.” -Chris Leamy, ZAP President
This year I brought one of my girlfriends to join me at ZinEx. She is not a huge zinfandel fan but decided to live in a “why not” moment. The one thing I love about zinfandel is that not all are created equal, meaning some are that big bold and spicy zin we all know and love, and some are very light, fruity and remind me of a more “pinot noir” blend. My girlfriend quickly learned this and ended up enjoying more than half of the zins we were poured.
After drinking our fair share of wine, I narrowed down our favorite Zinfandels from the event. It was a hard decision, but these are definitely some wines you need to try and get your hands on ASAP.
This was, hands down, my favorite zinfandel I had during the event.
A fine and elegant wine, boasting brambly huckleberry, raspberry jam, and toasted cedar box with a long, smooth finish of bourbon vanilla and baking spice.
These two vintage zinfandels were very different and were a toss up for being a favorite so I decided to include them both. Now I don’t have a lot of information on both the wines as they are not available online, but I am sure if you headed over to their winery for a visit and mention you saw this article to the owner, Duane, he would be happy to tell you more about it and possibly have some to pour you.
This 90 point, Gold Medal zinfandel is just perfection! It’s a rich, medium-bodied “Old Vines” Zinfandel that reveals abundant aromas of dark red berries, cherry compote and warm spice. Lingering, bright flavors follow, with notes of boysenberry pie, fresh cranberry and a touch of white pepper. The finish is long, smooth and a little spicy.
The grapes in our Sonoma County “Old Vines” Zinfandel come from vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, and Alexander Valley. These head-pruned and dry-farmed vines range in age from 55 to more than 100 years old, producing low yields of fruit with highly concentrated, intense flavors.
Aromas of ripe raspberry, root spices, and fresh cream lead into flavors of espresso bean and bright, juicy red fruits, with a long fruit-filled finish.
The 2012 Hartford Russian River Valley Zinfandel is a wine with beautiful depth of flavor and intensity. The aromas of fresh raspberry and boysenberry are balanced with notes of cracked pepper and spice. Blackberry, nutmeg and mocha flavors lead into an elegant and silky finish.
This 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel derives from 101 year old vines and is clearly proud to be a Zinfandel as it leaps from the glass with heady aromas of wild raspberries, black plum, cherry cola, baking spices, cloves, and cracked pepper. Medium bodied with bright acidity and dusty tannins this shows wonderful aging potential as this Zinfandel blossoms with ample time in the glass – gathering palate weight and rounging out seamlessly. The wine finishes long and lifted, and begs for a second sip… and before you know it, the bottle is gone. Enjoy now with at least a 30-minute decant, or lay it down and enjoy over the next decade.
If you live in Northern California or are planning a trip to visit, I highly recommend you make it a plan to visit the Zinfandel Experience next year. You can purchase bottles straight from the event and many even offer an event discount. Some wines are no longer available to purchase from their websites, so it’s the best way to make sure you are getting your hands on your favorite zinfandels. Plus, it’s a great way to meet the wine maker and truly learn about the wines you are being poured and what went into it.
The event is well worth your money with the amount and quality of wine available for you to try. They even bring in some talented chefs and restaurants for you to nibble your way around the room and you can pair some of those tasty snacks with zinfandel.
To stay up-to-date with the Zinfandel Experience, please visit: www.zinfandelexperience.com.
Disclosure: I received tickets to attend, all opinions are my own.