Guide to Zinfandel Wines


Bruce loves to grow his Zinfandel grapes, even if he doesn’t particularly enjoy drinking it. His wines boast a lighter to medium body flavor, with very subtle fruit flavors and a hint of spice. Typical Zinfandels on the Central Coast produce more a jammy, fruit forward flavor, which are equally as yummy just different. More of the inland valley, near Livermoore, wineries tend to produce Zinfandels that have more spice than fruit flavor. Again, equally as delicious, just different than ours. Hansen Zinfandel has the best of both worlds with the perfect amount of fruit and spice. You will find that the Estate Zin has a much lighter, softer taste than the Marquis. This is due to the soil changes where the two blocks of grapes are grown on the property. Even though they are the exact same vines grafted onto the same root stock, the Estate block grows in a soil that has more shale and limestone. Therefore it produces a lighter, smoother wine because there are less nutrients in the soil. The Marquis block grows in a soil that has a much darker, intense nutrient base along with the addition of the shale and limestone which produces a very bright, clear, more intense wine that has quite a bit of spice.

Zinfandel Grapes

Uniquely American, this exuberant red wine is capable of producing top quality red wines that can rivalCabernet Sauvignon. It offers an array of flavors including black and red fruit, spice, pepper, tar, licorice and wood. Zinfandel [ZIN-fan-dell] is produced in three distinct styles. The first is the fresh and fruity, easy-drinking style that offers charm and balance with light tannins, followed by the medium-bodied, fuller flavored Zinfandels with noticeable spiciness and ripe tannins. This is followed by the big, concentrated and powerful style with intense fruit and unbelievable richness. Zinfandel is exclusively grown in California and is the most widely planted red grape variety.




Fruit – Blackcurrant, Cherry, Blackberry, Plum, Raisin
Oak – Oak, Cedar, Smoke, Vanilla, Spice, Pepper
Complex – Chocolate, Coffee, Tobacco, Earth, Herb


Fruit – Blackcurrant, Cherry, Blackberry, Plum, Raisin
Oak – Oak, Cedar, Smoke, Vanilla, Spice, Pepper
Complex – Chocolate, Coffee, Tobacco, Earth, Herb


Fresh Fruit/Easy Drinking – Filled with bright, fresh fruit and easy drinking
Intense Fruit/Ripe Tannins – Great fruit flavors and medium bodied with detectable tannins
Highly Concentrated Fruit/Firm Tannins – Full-bodied and dense with loads of fruit flavors and ample tannins


Fresh Fruit/Easy Drinking – Aperitifs, Light Cheese
Intense Fruit/Ripe Tannins – Lamb, Venison
Highly Concentrated Fruit/Firm Tannins – Red Meat


California – Napa Valley, Alexander Valley and Amador County



 Depending on the climate and vineyard location, as well as the producers, California winemakers generally produce three styles of red Zinfandel: light bodied and easy drinking, medium bodied with ripe tannins and full bodied with intense fruit and firm tannins. Zinfandel offers red fruit flavors.




These are by far the most abundant and the most popular. They are light, young, fresh Zinfandels in a Beaujolais style with fresh-forward berry flavors. These are wines of easy charm and balance that are drinkable upon release. They go well with food and can be enjoyed on a daily basis without denting your budget. Examples of this style include Ravenswood and Monthaven.



These upon release have more fruit flavors than the light-bodied styles and the tannins are more detectable. The spicy character becomes more apparent and the finish is longer. These are great selections to complement meat dishes. Wonderful examples of these are Sobon Estate and Alterra.



These are richer, deeply hued Zinfandels with a capacity for aging. They are concentrated and powerful with an underlying spiciness overlaid with flavors of raspberries and blackberries. Some are produced from vineyards planted with very old vines. Sobon Estate, Ridge and Rosenblum m.ake outstanding examples of this style.


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