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The Zin-sational Experience: 15 Best Zinfandels to Drink in 2023

Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by Lydia Martin

a bottle of zinfadel and a glass of wine for the best to drink in 2023

As a wine enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for the best bottles to add to my collection and share with my friends. Zinfandel, a grape variety that is often associated with California but also grown in other parts of the world, has been gaining popularity in recent years thanks to its rich, fruity flavors and versatility. 

Whether you prefer a bold and spicy Zin or a more elegant and complex one, there’s a Zinfandel out there that can satisfy your taste buds. In this list, I’ve curated 15 of the best Zinfandels to drink in 2023 based on their quality, reputation, and value. So, get ready to discover some new favorites and indulge in the ultimate Zin experience!

An Overview

Get ready to savor the bold and fruity flavors of the 15 best Zinfandels to drink in 2023! This list combines some of the most exceptional Zinfandels from renowned vineyards and wineries in California, each with unique characteristics and aging potential.

Whether you’re a expert wine enthusiast or a newbie looking to explore the world of Zinfandels, this list has something to offer everyone. So, grab a glass, sit back, and get ready to indulge in the rich aromas and bold flavors of these top-notch Zinfandel wines.

What is Zinfandel?

Zinfandel is a type of red wine grape primarily grown in California[1]. It is known for producing a wide range of wine styles, from light and fruity to full-bodied and bold. It is also believed to have originated from Croatia and is known as Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski in that region.

What is Zinfandel Vine?

two grapes that make a zinfadel wine for the best wine to drink

Zinfandel vine is a type of grapevine that is primarily used to produce red and white Zinfandel wine. It is a robust vine that requires a warm and sunny climate to grow and produce high-quality grapes.

Zinfandel vines produce large clusters of small, thin-skinned grapes known for their high sugar content, contributing to the wine’s full body and high alcohol content. The vine is grown primarily in California but it can also be found in other parts of the world[2].

The Best Zinfandels

Turley Wine Cellars “Hayne Vineyard” Zinfandel

ABV: 15.5% | REGION: Napa Valley, California | PRICE: $80 USD to $100 USD

Turley Wine Cellars “Hayne Vineyard” Zinfandel is known for its exceptional quality and unique characteristics. Located in the Napa Valley AVA, the Hayne Vineyard is known for its mountain fruit, which produces intense, concentrated flavors. The vineyard has a long history, dating back to the 19th century, and is planted with heritage Zinfandel clones. 

Winemaking at Turley is focused on preserving the purity and expression of the fruit, with minimal intervention and the use of traditional winemaking techniques. This red zinfandel wine is aged in oak barrels, which adds complexity to the flavors. The style is full-bodied, with rich fruit flavors and firm tannins, and has the potential to age for many years. 

Ridge Vineyards “Lytton Springs” Zinfandel

ABV: 14.5% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $40 USD to $60 USD

Ridge Vineyards’ “Lytton Springs” Zinfandel is deemed among the top Zinfandels to savor this year owing to its remarkable excellence and distinctive attributes. The vineyard is located in the Dry Creek Valley AVA in Sonoma County and is known for producing mountain fruit with intense, concentrated flavors. The vines are a mix of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and other varieties, some of which are over 100 years old, adding to the wine’s heritage. 

Winemaking at Ridge is focused on minimal intervention, with native yeast fermentations and aging in American oak barrels, which add complexity to the wine’s rich fruit flavors. The style is full-bodied, with dark fruit flavors, firm tannins, and a long, spicy finish. The wine has excellent aging potential and is known to improve with time in the bottle, making it a great choice to enjoy in 2023 and beyond.

Bedrock Wine Co. “Old Vine” Zinfandel

ABV: 14.5% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $25 USD to $40 USD

Bedrock Wine Co.’s “Old Vine” Zinfandel is a top choice to enjoy this year because of its unique features and exceptional quality. The grapes are sourced from various old-vine vineyards in AVAs like the Russian River, Dry Creek, and Sonoma Valleys, producing intense flavors of mountain fruit. Some of the vines are over a century old, adding to the wine’s heritage. 

The winemaking process involves minimal intervention, with native yeast fermentations and aging in a combination of new and used oak barrels. The wine is full-bodied, boasting ripe fruit flavors, spice, and a long, smooth finish. The wine has excellent aging potential, with some vintages aging up to 20 years.

Carlisle Winery “Montafi Ranch” Zinfandel

ABV: 15.5% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $50 USD to $60 USD

Carlisle Winery’s “Montafi Ranch” Zinfandel is exceptionally crafted in a vineyard located in the Russian River Valley AVA, where the steep hillside location produces mountain fruit with concentrated flavors. The Montafi Ranch has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in the region, some of which are over 90 years old, contributing to the wine’s heritage. 

The wine is made using natural fermentations and aged in French oak barrels, providing depth and complexity to the wine’s profile. It is a full-bodied wine with dark fruit flavors, spice, and a long, velvety finish, with excellent aging potential, with some vintages aging up to 20 years.

Seghesio Family Vineyards “Home Ranch” Zinfandel

ABV: 14.8% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $40 USD to $50 USD

Seghesio Family Vineyards’ “Home Ranch” Zinfandel has gained recognition for its exceptional quality and unique characteristics that make it stand out among other Zinfandels. The Home Ranch vineyard is located in the Alexander Valley AVA, which is known for producing some of the best Zinfandels in the region. 

The vineyard’s mountain fruit, its heritage Zinfandel clones, and the winemaking expertise of Seghesio result in a rich, complex, and age-worthy wine. The wine is aged in oak barrels, adding a subtle vanilla and baking spice flavor while maintaining the bold and fruit-forward style that Zinfandel is known for. 

The wine has a bold and full-bodied style, with notes of blackberry, black cherry, and spice. With an aging potential of up to 10 years, the Home Ranch Zinfandel is a wine that will continue to improve over time.

Bedrock Wine Co. “Evangelho Vineyard” Zinfandel

ABV: 14.5% | REGION: Contra Costa County, California | PRICE: $40 USD to $50 USD

Bedrock Wine Co.’s “Evangelho Vineyard” Zinfandel is a standout wine due to its unique blend of old-vine heritage and modern winemaking techniques. The grapes for this wine are obtained from the historic Evangelho Vineyard, located in the Contra Costa AVA, where the vines are over 100 years old and produce low yields of concentrated fruit. 

The wine is aged in a mix of French and American oak barrels, which adds complexity and depth to the flavor profile. Its style is fruit-forward, with notes of blackberry, raspberry, and spices, and it has excellent aging potential, allowing it to continue to improve in the bottle for years to come.

Ravenswood Winery “Barricia Vineyard” Zinfandel

ABV: 14.5% to 15.5% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $40 USD to $60 USD

Ravenswood Winery’s “Barricia Vineyard” Zinfandel is a top-notch Zinfandel that deserves attention in 2023 due to its impressive quality and distinct attributes. The Barricia Vineyard is located in the Sonoma Valley AVA, which is known for its high-quality grapes, and the vineyard has an elevation of 800-1,000 feet, providing a cooler climate that produces grapes with a unique flavor profile. 

The heritage vines, planted in 1900, also contribute to the wine’s exceptional quality. The winemaking process involves natural yeast fermentation, aging in French oak barrels, and minimal intervention, allowing the wine to express its terroir. The resulting wine is full-bodied, with intense fruit flavors, balanced acidity, and a long finish, and has an aging potential of at least a decade.

Hartford Family Winery “Highwire Vineyard” Zinfandel

ABV: 15.5% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $65 USD to $75 USD

Hartford Family Winery’s “Highwire Vineyard” Zinfandel is a standout wine because of the vineyard’s location in the Russian River Valley AVA, and its mountain fruit provides ideal growing conditions for the grape varietal. The winery’s focus on small-batch, artisanal winemaking techniques results in a high-quality, full-bodied wine with a distinctive taste profile. 

Aged in French oak barrels, the wine exhibits a complex flavor profile with notes of dark fruit, spice, and black pepper. With its excellent structure and tannins, this wine has excellent aging potential and is a perfect choice for wine enthusiasts seeking a bold, sophisticated wine.

Seghesio Family Vineyards “Cortina” Zinfandel

ABV: 15.5% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $35 USD to $50 USD

Seghesio Family Vineyards’ “Cortina” Zinfandel is an outstanding wine to enjoy in 2023, sourced from the Cortina Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. The vineyard’s location on the eastern side of the valley, along with its well-drained soils, provides ideal growing conditions for Zinfandel. The wine is made using traditional winemaking techniques, focusing on showcasing the vineyard’s unique character. 

The grapes are fermented using native yeasts, and the wine is stored for 14 months in French and American oak barrels. The result is a full-bodied Zinfandel with bold flavors of black cherry, blackberry, spice, firm tannins, and a long finish. The wine has excellent aging potential and is a testament to Seghesio Family Vineyards’ dedication to producing exceptional Zinfandels.

Martinelli Winery “Jackass Hill” Zinfandel

ABV: 14.5% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $150 USD to $500 USD

Martinelli Winery’s “Jackass Hill” Zinfandel is considered one of the best Zinfandels to drink in 2023 due to its unique and historic vineyard location, situated on a steep, rocky hillside in the Russian River Valley AVA. The mountain fruit produced in this location creates a rich and complex wine with concentrated flavors of dark fruit, spice, and a distinct minerality. 

The heritage of the Martinelli family and their commitment to sustainable winemaking practices further enhance the wine’s quality, while the oak barrels used for aging impart subtle notes of vanilla and toast. Its bold, full-bodied style and potential for long-term aging make it a highly sought-after wine for Zinfandel enthusiasts.

Outpost Wines “Howell Mountain” Zinfandel

ABV: 15.8% | REGION: Napa Valley, California | PRICE: $50 USD to $70 USD

Outpost Wines “Howell Mountain” Zinfandel is made with grapes sourced from Howell Mountain, one of the most prestigious AVAs in Napa Valley known for its high altitude, volcanic soils, and cooler climate, producing grapes with intense flavors and complexity. The mountain fruit is carefully harvested and fermented with natural yeasts, then aged in French oak barrels for 18 months to develop its rich and layered character. 

The wine boasts a bold and concentrated style, with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, and pepper, supported by firm tannins and a long finish. With its excellent structure and aging potential, this Zinfandel will only get better with time, making it a must-try for any wine enthusiast.

Carlisle Winery “Papera Ranch” Zinfandel

ABV: 15.9% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $50 USD to $70 USD

Carlisle Winery’s “Papera Ranch” Zinfandel is considered one of the best zinfandels to drink in 2023 due to its location in the Russian River Valley AVA, which is known for producing exceptional zinfandel grapes. The mountain fruit used in this wine also adds to its complexity and depth. 

The winery has a heritage of producing high-quality zinfandels using traditional winemaking techniques and minimal intervention. The wine is aged in French oak barrels, adding subtle oak flavors and enhancing its structure. It has a balanced style with rich fruit flavors, a full body, and a long finish, making it an excellent choice for aging.

Turley Wine Cellars “Dogtown” Zinfandel

ABV: 15.5% | REGION: Lodi, California | PRICE: $45 USD to $60 USD

Turley Wine Cellars’ “Dogtown” Zinfandel is produced by the Lodi AVA, which is known for producing some of the best Zinfandels in California. The vineyards where the grapes are sourced are located on the slopes of the Sierra Foothills, where the mountain fruit produces intense and concentrated flavors. The vines are also older, some up to 100 years, adding to the wine’s heritage and complexity. 

The winemaking process is meticulous, with fermentation occurring in open-top fermenters and the wine aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels. The resulting wine is full-bodied, with bold fruit flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, and plum and a hint of spice. Its structure is firm and supported by tannins, making it an ideal wine for aging. Its style is reminiscent of classic Zinfandels from the region but with a modern touch that sets it apart.

Klinker Brick Winery “Old Ghost” Zinfandel

ABV: 15.8% | REGION: Lodi, California | PRICE: $40 USD to $45 USD

Klinker Brick Winery’s “Old Ghost” Zinfandel is carefully crafted in a winery in Lodi, California, known for its high-quality Zinfandel grapes. The “Old Ghost” is sourced from old vine zinfandels on the estate’s 90-year-old vineyard, giving the wine a rich heritage and concentrated fruit flavors. The winemaking process includes aging the wine in French oak barrels, which adds complexity and depth to the wine’s structure. 

The wine has a bold, full-bodied style with dark fruit flavors and a spicy finish. Thus, it displays a rich and bold style, with notes of blackberry, cherry, and vanilla. It also has an excellent aging potential, allowing it to develop even more complexity and smoothness over time, making it a great choice for cellaring.

Seghesio Family Vineyards “Pagani Heritage” Zinfandel

ABV: 15.5% | REGION: Sonoma County, California | PRICE: $50 USD to $60 USD

Seghesio Family Vineyards’ “Pagani Heritage” Zinfandel is one of the best Zinfandels to drink in 2023 due to its location in the Sonoma Valley AVA and its high-quality mountain fruit from the historic Pagani Ranch. The Seghesio family has been making wine in the region for over 100 years, and their winemaking expertise is evident in the exceptional quality of this wine. 

The wine is aged in oak barrels, adding depth and complexity to its flavor profile, which features rich dark fruit flavors and hints of spice. Its style is balanced and elegant, with a long finish that showcases its aging potential, allowing the wine to develop even more complexity over time. The resulting wine has a complex, layered flavor profile with notes of blackberry, spice, and vanilla. 

FAQs

How do you pick a good Zinfandel?

In picking a good Zinfandel, look for wines from established AVAs with a reputation for producing high-quality Zinfandel, such as Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Lodi. Check the alcohol level, which should be around 14-15%, to ensure balance and complexity.

Look for wines that have been aged in oak barrels, which can enhance flavors and add complexity. Lastly, consider the winemaker’s reputation and the vineyard’s history and heritage, as they can indicate quality.

What is the difference between Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon?

Zinfandels and Cabernet Sauvignons are two different types of red wine with distinct characteristics. Zinfandel is known for its jammy and fruity flavors, while Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its bold and tannic structure. Zinfandel is usually lighter-bodied than Cabernet Sauvignon and is often consumed young.

At the same time, Cabernet Sauvignon is typically aged for several years before drinking. Cabernet Sauvignon is often mixed with other grape varieties, while Zinfandel is generally made from the Zinfandel grape alone.

Is Zinfandel and Pinot Noir the same?

No, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir are not the same. They are two different grape varieties with distinct characteristics and flavors. Zinfandel is known for its bold and jammy flavors, while Pinot Noir is typically more delicate, with notes of red fruit and earthiness.

References

  1. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/a-guide-to-red-zinfandel-white-zinfandel-and-how-to-pair-zinfandel-wines
  2. https://zinfandel.org/learn/history/

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