Zinfandel's rollercoaster popularity ride

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Adam Frisch
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Zinfandel's rollercoaster popularity ride

#1 Post by Adam Frisch » February 9th, 2020, 4:53 am

It's funny, after just finishing Zinfandel: A History of a Grape it made me reflect on its rollercoaster ride. It seems to be squarely out of fashion and popularity right now (perhaps edging back slightly - I see hints). But this is nothing new; it has tossed and turned like this many times through history. From memory (two weeks after reading book), it was in vogue in mid- to later parts of 70's and 80's, then fell out again, only to come back big and jammy in the 90's and now to be out again. And before that it also showed hints of going in and out. Initially mostly out - a table grape not well respected for winemaking - but rising in reputation after prohibition.

From a personal perspective, I bought Turning Leaf and Fetzer back in the days in Sweden with a nascent wine interest, as they were kind of the only Zins one could get. For us at the time, they seemed like high end, but I think that might have been the novelty perspective of American wine. ;)

I've always enjoyed Zin, and consider it a true American classic. But there was a period where I didn't pursue it much, so I have a huge gap in my relationship with it.

So, to my question:

I know grapes go through these popularity cycles, but it seems like Zin goes through them more frequently and with higher frequency. Why is that? Is it simply because it's been here the longest and the cycles of PN, Cab etc haven't shown yet? Is it because it is a Californian OG and we treat our own kids harsher than the neighbors? Has Cab ever been through a lower demand cycle? And if so, why not - why Zin and not Cab?
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#2 Post by J a y H a c k » February 9th, 2020, 6:19 am

Consider that there are still a lot of people whose response to "How about zinfandel" is "The red kind or the white kind?" There is too little appreciation of the better quality zins. I suspect that the fluctuation is the result of periodic fascination with another grape (e.g., Malbec) that causes people who were drinking cheap factory zin to go out and try something else.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#3 Post by John Glas » February 9th, 2020, 6:40 am

Consider that there are still a lot of people whose response to "How about zinfandel" is "The red kind or the white kind?" There is too little appreciation of the better quality zins. I suspect that the fluctuation is the result of periodic fascination with another grape (e.g., Malbec) that causes people who were drinking cheap factory zin to go out and try something else.
There just is not a lot of consumers willing to pay $30 plus for a Zin. I think Seghesio's base bottle is one of the better transitions for people to see that Zin can be good.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#4 Post by Marc Hauser » February 9th, 2020, 6:59 am

Other examples of boom/bust: There was a steep drop in Merlot sales pre- and post-“Sideways”. Carneros was the center of Pinot until it wasn’t. Australian Shiraz.

I’d agree with Jay that 99% (don’t trust that number) of zin sold isn’t of the style loved by WB (myself included).
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#5 Post by Brian Tuite » February 9th, 2020, 7:10 am

John Glas wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 6:40 am
Consider that there are still a lot of people whose response to "How about zinfandel" is "The red kind or the white kind?" There is too little appreciation of the better quality zins. I suspect that the fluctuation is the result of periodic itfascination with another grape (e.g., Malbec) that causes people who were drinking cheap factory zin to go out and try something else.
There just is not a lot of consumers willing to pay $30 plus for a Zin. I think Seghesio's base bottle is one of the better transitions for people to see that Zin can be good.
And as mentioned there are too many people making “Factory Zins”. Good call on Seghesio, their Sonoma County Zin was a regular on our table for years. The $15 price point was sweet. Thus the price point is the sticking point as it is with the public with most wines. $25+ is luxury wine to the averge consumer where in my cellar it’s a starting point. My rule of thumb, and of course there are exceptions, is good wine isn’t cheap and cheap wine isn’t good. The majority of Zinfandel at the market is over-ripe, flabby and indistinguishable from one winery to the next. It takes that $25-$45 price point to find producers that create something with character and structure and even then you find over-ripe flabby wines. It’s tough.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#6 Post by Peter Petersen » February 9th, 2020, 8:30 am

I really enjoyed reading that book as well. One of its takes was that Zinfandel has always been far more popular here in CA, than elsewhere. And that it has generally never been considered a serious grape.

Personally, I've always enjoyed the occasional bottle, but these days the emphasis is going to be occasional. Bought way too much Zin over the last 10 years that I'm now unloading on a friend who still enjoys it on a more regular basis. Seghesio is a good example of the style I never enjoyed, way too thick and overdone. Martinelli is another that I never enjoyed at the other end of the price spectrum.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#7 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » February 9th, 2020, 9:15 am

Stylistic shifts often lead to shifts in consumer acceptance/enthusiasm. Zin has been a bit of a shapeshifter over the years, with the white zin boom, the rise of the goopy high alcohol monsters, and now a more varied field with some wonderfully balanced wines. That shifting can cause confusion, and affect sales.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#8 Post by dsimmons » February 9th, 2020, 10:41 am

It seams to me that grape/wine style popularity is mostly driven by "who yells the loudest". I have always liked fruit forward wines like zin but appreciate the fact that there are many who do not. And that is okay.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#9 Post by GregT » February 9th, 2020, 12:08 pm

I think that's largely true. And keep in mind, that any measure of the popularity of this or that grape in the USA has been done within the context of a market that was growing larger each year. It's not like there was a static market in which the popularity of certain grapes would ebb and flow. At one time there was a lot of Chenin Blanc and Barbera planted. Italian Swiss Colony and others would blend lots of grapes together. But then the market became a little larger and a little more sophisticated and people wanted to drink Chardonnay. And then the market became larger yet and other types of Chardonnay became popular. But KJ is still selling a lot of its original style.

Same with Zin. White Zin became popular in the 1970s along with Gallo's wine coolers. Then the Paris tasting came along and people gradually became more interested in wine in general, and that expanded the universe of grapes used. So I'm not sure that there really was so much of a rollercoaster.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#10 Post by Brady Daniels » February 9th, 2020, 12:23 pm

I love Zinfandel and mixed blacks, and I’m grateful that only a few of us think of fine examples as grand cru quality. There may be a lot of old-vine vineyards, but not nearly enough to accommodate the wine drinking world if zin became particularly trendy. For anybody who has dabbled in Burgundy, $50 grand crus are a ridiculous bargain.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#11 Post by Philip N. Jones » February 9th, 2020, 1:33 pm

Is the popularity of zin really cyclical? Seems pretty steady to me. The prices of quality zin never seem to dip. Or is it the low end of zin that cycles up and down? Does the number of acres planted to zin go up and down. It would be interesting to see some kind of actual statistics on sales, prices, or acres.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#12 Post by Joe G a l e w s k i » February 9th, 2020, 3:33 pm

I think of zinfandel as kind of a one-trick pony. The best of them manage to be balanced (Carlisle, Scherrer), but they lack the sophistication of other grapes, and end up still being heavy. Zinfandel seems to excel when it is blended with other grapes - Ridge Geyserville and Lytton Springs are great examples. Those can be very interesting with age.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#13 Post by Nate Simon » February 9th, 2020, 3:37 pm

No roller coaster chez nous. So much great stuff out there. Never a shortage of deliciousness.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#14 Post by Michael Martin » February 9th, 2020, 4:29 pm

Zin has only gotten better. Bedrock, Once and Future, Carlisle... I don’t care if it’s popular. I love Syrah and hardly anyone likes that.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#15 Post by Philip N. Jones » February 9th, 2020, 4:37 pm

Ditto Nate and Michael. At my house, my 600-bottle cellar is roughly 90% Zinfandel (mainly Bedrock and Carlisle). About 9% is Petit Sirah, and 1% is other stuff. Zinfandel does not go out of style at my house.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#16 Post by Adam Frisch » February 9th, 2020, 6:50 pm

Oh, it's definitely a bit out of favor. Hipster somm's won't touch it and the farmers can't sell their Zin fruit.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#17 Post by M. Dildine » February 9th, 2020, 7:34 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 6:50 pm
Oh, it's definitely a bit out of favor. Hipster somm's won't touch it and the farmers can't sell their Zin fruit.
Thanks for the hipster perspectives Adam! [wink.gif]
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#18 Post by Joe B » February 9th, 2020, 7:45 pm

John Glas wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 6:40 am
Consider that there are still a lot of people whose response to "How about zinfandel" is "The red kind or the white kind?" There is too little appreciation of the better quality zins. I suspect that the fluctuation is the result of periodic fascination with another grape (e.g., Malbec) that causes people who were drinking cheap factory zin to go out and try something else.
There just is not a lot of consumers willing to pay $30 plus for a Zin. I think Seghesio's base bottle is one of the better transitions for people to see that Zin can be good.
I’m not willing to pay less than $30. [stirthepothal.gif]
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#19 Post by Evan Pontoriero » February 9th, 2020, 7:47 pm

Linne Calodo seem to do quite well with hipsters...
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#20 Post by Evan Pontoriero » February 9th, 2020, 7:52 pm

hmmm.
Hip? Single Thread?


ZINFANDEL
Ridge 'Buchignani Ranch' 2008 Ridge 'Buchignani Ranch' 2009 Ridge 'Buchignani Ranch' 2010 Ridge 'Carmichael' 2005 Ridge 'Carmichael' 2006 Ridge 'Carmichael' 2007 Ridge 'Carmichael' 2008 Ridge 'Carmichael' 2011
Ridge 'Geyserville' 1993 Ridge 'Geyserville' 1995 Ridge 'Geyserville' 1997 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2001 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2002 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2003 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2004 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2005 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2007 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2008 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2009 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2010 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2012 Ridge 'Geyserville' 2013

alexander valley
Ridge 'Geyserville' 2015 140 Ridge 'Llewelyn' 2000 140 Ridge 'Mazzoni Home Ranch' 2003 145 Ridge 'Mazzoni Home Ranch' 2004 145 Ridge 'Mazzoni Home Ranch' 2005 150 Ridge 'Mazzoni Home Ranch' 2006 140 Ridge 'Mazzoni Home Ranch' 2007 130 Ridge 'Mazzoni Home Ranch' 2008 130 Ridge Late Picked, 'Nervo' 2000 195 Ridge 'Nervo' 2003 150 Ridge 'Nervo' 2004 140 Ridge 'Nervo' 2005 150 Ridge 'Nervo' 2006 130 Ridge 'Old School' 2005 180 Ridge 'Old School' 2007 125 Ridge 'Oltrani' 2005 140 Ridge 'Stone Ranch' 2004 140 San Lorenzo 'Rock Garden' 2016 110 San Lorenzo 'The Pearl' 2014 165 San Lorenzo 'The Pearl' 2016 150
A. Rafanelli 2015 160 Collier Falls 'Hillside Estate' 2013 115 Day 'Grist' 2016 100 Dehlinger 'Guadagni Brothers' 2009 215 Papapietro Perry 2013
Ridge 'Del Carlo' 2001 Ridge 'Del Carlo' 2003 Ridge 'East Bench' 2008 Ridge 'Lytton Estate' 2009 Ridge 'Lytton Estate' 2010 Ridge 'Lytton Springs' 1999 Ridge 'Lytton Springs' 2004 Ridge 'Lytton Springs' 2006
dry creek
ZINFANDEL
48
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Buena Vista Haraszthy Cellars 1965 515 Hacienda Wine Cellars 1979 195 Ridge Late Picked, 'Pagani Ranch' 2002 215 Ridge 'Pagani Ranch' 1995 210 Ridge 'Pagani Ranch' 1997 205 Ridge 'Pagani Ranch' 2011 145 Roudon-Smith 'Old Hill Ranch' 1978 260
Beekeeper 'Black Sears', Howell Mountain 2012 200 Frog's Leap 1993 265 Frog's Leap 2006 145 Frog's Leap 2015 80 Grgich Hills 2009 140 Ridge 'York Creek', Spring Mountain District 2004 170 Ridge 'York Creek', Spring Mountain District 2005 165 Ridge 'York Creek', Spring Mountain District 2006 160 Ridge 'York Creek', Spring Mountain District 2008 150 Ridge 'York Creek', Spring Mountain District 2011 150 Storybook Mountain Estate Reserve 1987 895 Storybook Mountain Estate Reserve 1988 895 Storybook Mountain Estate Reserve 1990 295 Storybook Mountain Estate Reserve 2008 280 Storybook Mountain Estate Reserve 2009 280 Storybook Mountain Estate Reserve 2014 160 Storybook Mountain 1990 245 Storybook Mountain 1993 215 Storybook Mountain 'Eastern Exposures' 2013 135
ZINFANDEL
49

santa cruz mountains
central valley & amador
paso robles
Ridge 'Jimsomare' 2000 Ridge 'Jimsomare' 2001 Ridge 'Jimsomare' 2003 Ridge 'Jimsomare' 2007 Ridge 'Jimsomare' 2008
Alquimista Cellars 'Jessie's Grove', Lodi 2015 AlquimistaCellars'Jessie'sGrove',Lodi2016 Martha Stoumen 'King Andrews', Suisun Valley 2017 Monteviña, Amador 1975
Stirm, Cienega Valley 2016 Sutter Home, Amador 1970
Ridge Late Picked, 'Dusi Ranch' 2003 Ridge Late Picked, 'Dusi Ranch' 2007 Ridge Late Picked 1997
Ridge 2003
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#21 Post by Evan Pontoriero » February 9th, 2020, 8:11 pm

I also remember selling a ton of Zin to Baker and Banker in SF before they had kids and still sell a lot to Terrapin Creek on the coast. I haven't seen much decrease in popularity. I think what you may be seeing is that the more trendy restaurants these days are often non-european or non-cali cuisine. Just look at the Eater SF Hottest list. Zin doesn't pair as well with sushi or ramen. Maybe better with Moroccan but by all means enjoy that Czech Chardonnay if you feel the need. I'd find it hard to believe that hipsters don't like Bedrock too.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#22 Post by etomasi » February 9th, 2020, 8:23 pm

I get it. We only drink a couple zins a year. I find them very difficult to pair with the food we make. We don't eat alot of grilled red meat and the red meat we do have goes best with medium bodied or aged reds. I'll have to poll my coworkers who like wine. I would think that most "normies" who drink supermarket cabs would like Zins, so no idea why its not popular with them.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#23 Post by JDavisRoby » February 9th, 2020, 8:30 pm

It wasn’t that long ago that Constellation paid $285mm for The Prisoner portfolio which the lead wine was a Cali field blend dominated by Zinfandel. The hipsters may hate The Prisoner (as do I generally) but Constellation must’ve thought a whole lot of other people loved it!

Edit: $285mm not $265mm. Off by $20mm!!!
Last edited by JDavisRoby on February 9th, 2020, 8:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#24 Post by S. Rash » February 9th, 2020, 8:30 pm

Michael Martin wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 4:29 pm
Zin has only gotten better. Bedrock, Once and Future, Carlisle... I don’t care if it’s popular. I love Syrah and hardly anyone likes that.
Agree
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#25 Post by Philip N. Jones » February 9th, 2020, 9:12 pm

No one on this thread has offered any hard statistics to support the notion that Zinfandel has lost popularity. Or has become cyclical.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#26 Post by Brian Tuite » February 10th, 2020, 5:21 am

I had some hipster Zinfandel the other day too. It was different but I liked it.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#27 Post by JDavisRoby » February 10th, 2020, 6:41 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 5:21 am
I had some hipster Zinfandel the other day too. It was different but I liked it.
Pet Nat Zin?
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#28 Post by Evan Pontoriero » February 10th, 2020, 7:42 am

Hipster central:
From All Day Baby's (Silverlake) website:

BROC CELLARS ‘VINE STARR’
Zinfandel • Sonoma County, CA 2018

M. Georgina DTLA:
2018 Bedrock Esola 98
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#29 Post by Jeff_M. » February 10th, 2020, 7:54 am

I buy a lot of zin annually and open more bottles of zin than any other varietal each year. There may be excess grapes on the market due to good growing years and increased competition between wineries.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#30 Post by Brian Tuite » February 10th, 2020, 8:31 am

JDavisRoby wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 6:41 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 5:21 am
I had some hipster Zinfandel the other day too. It was different but I liked it.
Pet Nat Zin?
Nope, still wine with searing acidity.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#31 Post by Evan Pontoriero » February 10th, 2020, 9:05 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 8:31 am
JDavisRoby wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 6:41 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 5:21 am
I had some hipster Zinfandel the other day too. It was different but I liked it.
Pet Nat Zin?
Nope, still wine with searing acidity.
Interesting. Guessing natural wine that didn't go through ML cause it was high malic/very low pH and high ABV?
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#32 Post by Corey N. » February 10th, 2020, 9:10 am

Adam Frisch wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 6:50 pm
Oh, it's definitely a bit out of favor. Hipster somm's won't touch it and the farmers can't sell their Zin fruit.
I went to Alinea (a 3 Michelin star restaurant in Chicago) last year and the very young somm (probaby an assistant) poured a Turley Zin as part of a wine pairing. The pairing was awful and I asked if he has ever heard of Broc Cellars, which produces a very hipster-style Zin that is light bodied and lower alcohol. He said that the dish was originally pairred with the Broc Zin...and then they ran out and switched to a vanilla bomb which did not pair well at all.

I like Zin when it's made in a style (like Broc or Briceland) that is lower alcohol. But I have relatively little tolerance for any wine that might be described as "jammy".
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#33 Post by Gabe Berk » February 10th, 2020, 9:15 am

Was at a dinner party on Saturday and brought a 2017 Turley Dupratt Zin. None were really into wine much but I knew it'd pair well with grilled tri-tip. I poured some for everyone and their eyes lit up in enjoyment. A couple of them picked up the bottle to read the label and said "oh, red zinfandel. This stuff is amazing?!!!" This was in Northern California mind you in the heart of wine and Zin Country.

The wine was very delicious and well worth the $38. Wish I had bought more on allocation!!!

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#34 Post by Mel Knox » February 10th, 2020, 9:41 am

It seems to me that Zins from certain producers are really hot. I am thinking of Ridge, Nalle, Turley, Bedrock, Carlisle, Scherrer and a few others. But there doesn't seem to be much of a market for the less famous. You don't see much of it on wine lists.

Zin is hard to make well because the grapes ripen unevenly and often at high sugars. Primitivo, a sibling of Zin, ripens at lower sugars and more evenly.

Another issue is this: a grower in Napa/Sonoma can plant cab etc and get 3X for the grapes or plant Zin and get 1.5X...hmm....Ehren Jordan told me he planted zin in Napa because he doesn't think there will be any for sale. All the people with zin will make their own.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#35 Post by Fred Scherrer » February 10th, 2020, 10:09 am

Mel Knox wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 9:41 am
It seems to me that Zins from certain producers are really hot. I am thinking of Ridge, Nalle, Turley, Bedrock, Carlisle, Scherrer and a few others. But there doesn't seem to be much of a market for the less famous. You don't see much of it on wine lists.

Zin is hard to make well because the grapes ripen unevenly and often at high sugars. Primitivo, a sibling of Zin, ripens at lower sugars and more evenly.

Another issue is this: a grower in Napa/Sonoma can plant cab etc and get 3X for the grapes or plant Zin and get 1.5X...hmm....Ehren Jordan told me he planted zin in Napa because he doesn't think there will be any for sale. All the people with zin will make their own.
I agree Zinfandel is difficult to get a bead on with respect to when to harvest. If it is harvested too early there is little reward in the marketplace and none with critics.


The stylistic divergence (ripeness level and blending with other varieties) is a great source of confusion regarding the utility of the variety as well as aging/development potential.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#36 Post by Adam Frisch » February 10th, 2020, 10:14 am

Well, I know at least two winemakers who think that picking Zin early just doesn't suit the fruit. It doesn't develop until really ripe, they claim.
M. Dildine wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 7:34 pm
Thanks for the hipster perspectives Adam! [wink.gif]
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#37 Post by Gary Ahearn » February 10th, 2020, 10:41 am

Recently bought a case of 2016 Hartford Highwire Zinfandel, based on stellar reviews (Vinous, WA, Cellartracker). Just about every time I've had a zinfandel, I ask myself--how come I don't have more of this stuff.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#38 Post by Bryan Carr » February 10th, 2020, 12:36 pm

I've been trying to find a Zin that I like ever since I started drinking wine. I try it with some regularity and outside of a few things that fall into the category of "would never put this record on, but if it came on the radio I wouldn't change the station" like the Ridge blends I just find Zin to be too "turned up to 11" for me, even Turley, Carlisle and Bedrock, and most people my age that I drink with feel similarly. I think if it really does have swings in popularity it is down to the fact that it doesn't really ever talk in an inside voice even when made by the lightest producers out there (disclaimer: i haven't had Broc or the VdC carbonic Zin yet so i may be in for a surprise). I think it might just be one of the few grapes I just don't like no matter where it's made or by whom (Gewurztraminer is another).
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#39 Post by Fred Scherrer » February 10th, 2020, 12:43 pm

Bryan Carr wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 12:36 pm
I've been trying to find a Zin that I like ever since I started drinking wine. I try it with some regularity and outside of a few things that fall into the category of "would never put this record on, but if it came on the radio I wouldn't change the station" like the Ridge blends I just find Zin to be too "turned up to 11" for me, even Turley, Carlisle and Bedrock, and most people my age that I drink with feel similarly. I think if it really does have swings in popularity it is down to the fact that it doesn't really ever talk in an inside voice even when made by the lightest producers out there (disclaimer: i haven't had Broc or the VdC carbonic Zin yet so i may be in for a surprise). I think it might just be one of the few grapes I just don't like no matter where it's made or by whom (Gewurztraminer is another).
I'd suggest giving Nalle a try for an inside voice zin.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#40 Post by Bryan Carr » February 10th, 2020, 12:47 pm

Fred Scherrer wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 12:43 pm
Bryan Carr wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 12:36 pm
I've been trying to find a Zin that I like ever since I started drinking wine. I try it with some regularity and outside of a few things that fall into the category of "would never put this record on, but if it came on the radio I wouldn't change the station" like the Ridge blends I just find Zin to be too "turned up to 11" for me, even Turley, Carlisle and Bedrock, and most people my age that I drink with feel similarly. I think if it really does have swings in popularity it is down to the fact that it doesn't really ever talk in an inside voice even when made by the lightest producers out there (disclaimer: i haven't had Broc or the VdC carbonic Zin yet so i may be in for a surprise). I think it might just be one of the few grapes I just don't like no matter where it's made or by whom (Gewurztraminer is another).
I'd suggest giving Nalle a try for an inside voice zin.
Cool, I'll keep an eye out!
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#41 Post by Brady Daniels » February 10th, 2020, 1:54 pm

JDavisRoby wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 8:30 pm
It wasn’t that long ago that Constellation paid $285mm for The Prisoner portfolio which the lead wine was a Cali field blend dominated by Zinfandel. The hipsters may hate The Prisoner (as do I generally) but Constellation must’ve thought a whole lot of other people loved it!

Edit: $285mm not $265mm. Off by $20mm!!!
Constellation bought a brand, not Zinfandel. They are aiming for non-wine geeks who want a consistent, big, non-Cabernet. Does the bottle even say it contains Zin? Is there a bit of residual sugar too? That would make sense. They did the same thing with Meiomi Pinot. Seems to be working well for them.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#42 Post by Steve L Gellman » February 10th, 2020, 2:08 pm

I probably buy/drink more zin then any other varietal. It's my go to wine on most nights. In the last month I bought 2 cases of Carlisle, 2 cases of Turley and 6 bottles of Limrick Lane. Probably buy between 10 to 15 cases a year of Zin

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#43 Post by Al Osterheld » February 10th, 2020, 2:25 pm

Sky is another producer making interesting, more restrained Zinfandels.

-Al

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#44 Post by Evan Pontoriero » February 10th, 2020, 3:18 pm

Fred Scherrer wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 10:09 am
Mel Knox wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 9:41 am
It seems to me that Zins from certain producers are really hot. I am thinking of Ridge, Nalle, Turley, Bedrock, Carlisle, Scherrer and a few others. But there doesn't seem to be much of a market for the less famous. You don't see much of it on wine lists.

Zin is hard to make well because the grapes ripen unevenly and often at high sugars. Primitivo, a sibling of Zin, ripens at lower sugars and more evenly.

Another issue is this: a grower in Napa/Sonoma can plant cab etc and get 3X for the grapes or plant Zin and get 1.5X...hmm....Ehren Jordan told me he planted zin in Napa because he doesn't think there will be any for sale. All the people with zin will make their own.
I agree Zinfandel is difficult to get a bead on with respect to when to harvest. If it is harvested too early there is little reward in the marketplace and none with critics.


The stylistic divergence (ripeness level and blending with other varieties) is a great source of confusion regarding the utility of the variety as well as aging/development potential.
Edited: Sorry wrong quote

Fred,

Doug Nalle's wine was an eye opener for me in the mid 90's at that little(was it 5 tables?) Ravenous restaurant next to the Raven. Strawberry.
Last edited by Evan Pontoriero on February 10th, 2020, 5:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#45 Post by JDavisRoby » February 10th, 2020, 3:57 pm

Brady Daniels wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 1:54 pm
JDavisRoby wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 8:30 pm
It wasn’t that long ago that Constellation paid $285mm for The Prisoner portfolio which the lead wine was a Cali field blend dominated by Zinfandel. The hipsters may hate The Prisoner (as do I generally) but Constellation must’ve thought a whole lot of other people loved it!

Edit: $285mm not $265mm. Off by $20mm!!!
Constellation bought a brand, not Zinfandel. They are aiming for non-wine geeks who want a consistent, big, non-Cabernet. Does the bottle even say it contains Zin? Is there a bit of residual sugar too? That would make sense. They did the same thing with Meiomi Pinot. Seems to be working well for them.
The Prisoner is labeled as a red wine. The Saldo bottling is labeled Zinfandel.

Sure they bought a label but at some point people liked (and I assume continue to like) what’s in the bottle or they wouldn’t keep drinking it and if they aren’t drinking it Constellation doesn’t buy it.

Doesn’t the fact it’s labeled a red wine (but is openly stated Zinfandel led Cali field blend on their website and other materials) further prove the premise that the masses will drink Zinfandel?
Joshu@

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#46 Post by Wes Barton » February 10th, 2020, 4:49 pm

Bryan Carr wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 12:36 pm
I've been trying to find a Zin that I like ever since I started drinking wine. I try it with some regularity and outside of a few things that fall into the category of "would never put this record on, but if it came on the radio I wouldn't change the station" like the Ridge blends I just find Zin to be too "turned up to 11" for me, even Turley, Carlisle and Bedrock, and most people my age that I drink with feel similarly. I think if it really does have swings in popularity it is down to the fact that it doesn't really ever talk in an inside voice even when made by the lightest producers out there (disclaimer: i haven't had Broc or the VdC carbonic Zin yet so i may be in for a surprise). I think it might just be one of the few grapes I just don't like no matter where it's made or by whom (Gewurztraminer is another).
The Ridge Zins are build to age, and reward it. Try one with 20-40 years on it.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#47 Post by Rich Brown » February 11th, 2020, 4:34 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 6:50 pm
Oh, it's definitely a bit out of favor. Hipster somm's won't touch it and the farmers can't sell their Zin fruit.
As with most peeps on this board, I could give a sh*t what hipster Somms are pimping (for your sake i hope it's Mission. Sorry....couldn't help it)....but would be very curious to hear your inside scoop on which farmers are having a hard time selling their fruit, and more importantly, which vineyards they're farming, as I feel like that is critical to the conversation.

As many have mentioned, it feels like there are more quality zinfandel producers than ever before and the attention/conversation around the uniqueness and value of old Vine vineyards has never been stronger. Would be super interesting to hear where your statement is stemming from (since this is at least the 2nd or 3rd time I've seen you try and evoke responses around zin not being popular anymore).

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#48 Post by Wes Barton » February 11th, 2020, 8:56 pm

Rich Brown wrote:
February 11th, 2020, 4:34 pm
Adam Frisch wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 6:50 pm
Oh, it's definitely a bit out of favor. Hipster somm's won't touch it and the farmers can't sell their Zin fruit.
As with most peeps on this board, I could give a sh*t what hipster Somms are pimping (for your sake i hope it's Mission. Sorry....couldn't help it)....but would be very curious to hear your inside scoop on which farmers are having a hard time selling their fruit, and more importantly, which vineyards they're farming, as I feel like that is critical to the conversation.

As many have mentioned, it feels like there are more quality zinfandel producers than ever before and the attention/conversation around the uniqueness and value of old Vine vineyards has never been stronger. Would be super interesting to hear where your statement is stemming from (since this is at least the 2nd or 3rd time I've seen you try and evoke responses around zin not being popular anymore).
I'd bet that's based on what's available. I doubt no one in Dry Creek is having trouble. Other regions, sites that don't have cache or a track record on the other hand... There's been some OV Zin in the Santa Clara Valley available that I've nudged a few people about. (David Bruce sourced it for a few vintages in the '70s.) No nibbles.

Funny thing is, I've been to tasting rooms where they had a Zin that was late picked due to uneven ripeness, notable RS due to a stuck fermentation. Somewhat embarrassed amateurish winemaker. But, it was the top seller. What people might buy off a retail shelf and what they'd choose to buy after tasting are often not the same thing.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#49 Post by Philip N. Jones » February 11th, 2020, 10:21 pm

On this thread, I have twice asked for evidence of declining popularity of zin, or evidence that its popularity is cyclical. All I received in response has been silence.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#50 Post by Michael Martin » February 12th, 2020, 5:12 am

Philip N. Jones wrote:
February 11th, 2020, 10:21 pm
On this thread, I have twice asked for evidence of declining popularity of zin, or evidence that its popularity is cyclical. All I received in response has been silence.
When I was in sales, I was told you have to ask for something five times before you get it.

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