My First Zinfandel


California Sonoma County Three Valleys Zinfandel

Current price: about $21

Okay, it's not my first Zinfandel. But it's the first one I've really liked. It's meaty, earthy, smoky, and woodsy; not fruity, spicy, hot, and bothered, like most of its brethren. It tastes wholesome and grounded; restrained, like it's keeping something in reserve for later, like it has a secret it will tell you, in due time.

It's 76% Zinfandel, 8% Petite Sirah, 7% Syrah, 6% Grenache, and 3% Carignan, so there's a little bit of Rhône in the middle of this Zin. Bright garnet and nearly opaque, it has a serious nose, one that sets the tone, saying, "this is not what you think. This is not a game." It smells fresh and herbal, like lavender, thyme, and rosemary. On the tongue it's smooth and integrated, with a dark little catch that's maybe tannins or maybe the Petite Sirah or maybe both, together. It has a long, languorous finish.

Who knew Zin could be this good?



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  • Ah! Great review! I truly believe that Zinfandel is capable of reaching really amazing, even complex, heights. They can carry so much earth if not flushed out by massive fruit. Ridge has been doing it right for so long.

  • Thanks, Rob, for your nice comment. I’ve had other Ridge Zins, but this one really grabbed me. I’ll be looking for more. Too bad more Zins aren’t like this, but I’m hoping that over time American palates will wake up and start demanding more nuance from this ubiquitous wine.

  • Zinfandel is such an amazing grape that has been underrated in Europe for a long time, it seems to be changing right now, with people buying more Zin – Hopefully this means a more widespread appreciation! 🙂

  • Great blog! I came across Maker’s Table via Palate Press, which is also great.
    The Three Valleys is excellent. I remember being blown away the first time I tried it, and it’s reasonably priced.
    Ridge has such great Zinfandels. I hosted a Ridge Zinfandel tasting a week or two ago and was very, very impressed. For a straight Zin, I would recommend the ’05 Paso Robles (juicy, port-like dried fruit). For Zin blends, I would recommend the ’05 Pagani Ranch (full, rich black cherry) and the ’07 Geyserville (lean and peppery).

  • Thanks, Joon, for your kind comments. I’m so glad you like both Maker’s Table and Palate Press; I’m deeply invested in both. I’ll look for a few other Ridge Zins to try. I appreciate the recommendations.

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