Varietal: 100% Zinfandel
Region: Lodi, California – USA
Cost: $12 (SRP)
Winemaker’s Notes: Our Lodi Zinandel is a challenging and rewarding wine to produce. Strict selection criteria and master blending show in the final product, which showcases dark berry flavors including black cherry and strawberry. Spice notes, a lasting finish of vanilla from oak aging, and firm, supple tannins add complexity. With it smooth structure and rich, berry flavors, the California Zinfandel pairs best with bold-flavored foods such as penne putanesca, grilled steak, or chili con carne.
My Review: Well, I’m back from my vacation and back to sharing thoughts on wine. It’s a hard life. While I received a handful of samples right before I left town, there was one that caught my eye because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it – the 2012 Cline Cellars Zinfandel from Lodi. The wine had steak written all over it, and while it had been rainy leading up to the 4th of July weekend here in Virginia, it finally stopped and I had the opportunity to throw a ribeye on the grill and open this bottle of wine.
The wine showed dark berry notes and spice, but it took a bit of time to get there. I opened the bottle a good 15 to 20 minutes before starting to drink, and on looking back I should have decanted it to speed up the process of letting the wine open up, since the first sip of the wine I got was overwhelmingly just the aromas and flavors of alcohol. That being said, as the wine opened up the true aromas of the wine came to the surface.
In the mouth the wine was surprisingly smooth, with a medium feel and soft tannins on the finish. Paired with steak the wine did a good job of holding up, and thanks to the smooth finish, it was actually quite enj0yable to drink after the food was gone, especially as the wine continued to open up.
I’ll be the first to admit that I can be hit of miss on Zinfandel. There was a trend for a few years of very high alcohol Zinfandel coming out of California, and while this one isn’t overly high (14%), it definitely needs to be allowed to breathe for a while, or better yet be decanted, to get the most out of it. The wine isn’t trying to do anything overly complex, but it definitely works, and the price makes it appealing as an alternative to the usual cabernets and merlots for grilling out with friends and family this summer.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call this my favorite wine, but I’ve paid more for Zinfandel that was less impressive, so it’s certainly a good value wine and one worth looking into if you want that cabernet or merlot alternative for your grilled meats this summer.
Editor’s Note: I received this wine as a free sample.