Zinfandel's rollercoaster popularity ride

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Rich Brown
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#51 Post by Rich Brown » February 12th, 2020, 7:01 am

Wes Barton wrote:
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.
That would be my guess as well Wes. I'm sure theres some zin in areas/vineyards that are lesser known for the varietal that are having a hard time selling, but just cant imagine that being the case otherwise. Hopefully the OP will chime back in and let us know what exactly he's referring to, as saying zin is 'out of favor' is a pretty broad statement, especially for someone on this board and ITB to boot.

And I can absolutely see that happening with the late harvest zin in a tasting room. Cant say I've done that with a LHZ....but there's definitely been a time or two where I opened a bottle at home that I bought during a tasting and wondered WTH i was thinking at the time.

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Marc Hauser
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#52 Post by Marc Hauser » February 12th, 2020, 7:05 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.
This is a fair question. Someone ITB with access to Nielsen should be able to pull sales info.
ITB-ish (unfrozen caveman cannabis lawyer and erstwhile wine lawyer)

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#53 Post by Michael Martin » February 12th, 2020, 5:15 pm

For research on this thread I bought a Saldo on sale at Costco. If this wine is representative of mass market Zin, I can see why it may be declining. Sweet, oaky syrup.

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Rich Brown
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#54 Post by Rich Brown » February 12th, 2020, 5:40 pm

Yeah, Saldo is definitely not great....although I'd probably take it over the prisoner (havent tried Saldo in a few years..... or Prisoner for that matter)

Still hoping to hear back from Adam though.....

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#55 Post by Wes Barton » February 12th, 2020, 5:53 pm

Another point is there's a general wine glut. That doesn't make the best fruit from the best sites available, it makes lesser stuff more difficult to sell.

We can name some of the best Zin producers who have been expanding their production, actively seeking out great old vines. That can involve both taking over prestiged vineyards as well as recognizing the potential in others and implementing improvements, making better decisions, and using better winemaking practices.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#56 Post by Adam Frisch » February 12th, 2020, 6:31 pm

Quite a few bigger Lodi growers had to leave a lot of Zin hanging this year. Old vines. Of course, this was a especially challenging year for growers with a lot of excess fruit across the board, so take from that what you wish.

I would argue that most recent restaurants with some fine dining ambition, have a pretty limited Zin selection. Let's sample some wine lists. Here's A.O.C. here in LA:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/w4lsc746fjeu0 ... %20target=

Domestic:

2 Cabernet Franc
13 Cabernet Sauvignon
5 Grenache
1 Mencia
8 Red Blends
17 PN
8 Syrah
1 Zin

Let's look at one of Robert Dentice's favorites, Majordomo here in LA:

https://www.majordomo.la/drink#wine


Domestic:

5 Trousseau
20 Cabernets
2 Syrah
7 Pinot Noirs
2 Zins

Thomas Keller's Per Se in NYC has an extensive wine list. They stock 13 domestic Syrah's, vs 4 Zinfandels. Does Syrah sell 3x more in retail than Zin? https://hub.binwise.com/print/PerSeWine ... ationId=87

Sommelier John Lancaster (Boulevard Restaurant) quoted in this article https://www.lodiwine.com/blog/What-do-t ... del-today-:

Zinfandel sales have definitely softened for sure; but as always, it's hard to pin down exactly why.

I think there are many good examples of Zinfandel, and it is important as a California heritage varietal. But the lack of enthusiasm of many sommeliers for the varietal and its softening sales are probably intricately tied together. When there is a category that is stagnant, I think it's natural to just slowly move away from it into other areas that seem more dynamic. It isn't necessarily a planned move — like, "I am dropping all my Zinfandels" — but over time, a slow move away. I'm not sure if the recent drop in sales is a hangover from the big alcohol fruit bomb era of the past because it seems to me that style has been gone for some time now. All I can say is that the category has lost a little bit of its relevance tableside, for whatever which reason.


I think the struggle is real for Zin. But according to same article, it also says that DtC shipments of Zin have increased, so maybe its just sommelier snobbism keeping them off wine lists that has little relation to real world sales. Are people shipping Zin home and drinking it on the sly and DL, but not ordering it in restaurants? [wink.gif]
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoaster popularity ride

#57 Post by Christian Obermanns » February 12th, 2020, 7:02 pm

Just visited Joseph Swan over the weekend; their Zin was the last in the tasting and seemed to be overshadowed by their pinot offerings, but damned if it wasn't the best / most interesting Zin i'd had in a while.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoaster popularity ride

#58 Post by Pat K » February 12th, 2020, 7:07 pm

I just checked the wine list at Passionfish in Pacific Grove, CA. This place has a reputation as a wine lover's destination due to wide selection and reasonable markups. We were in the area last fall and had dinner there. Out of an 11-page wine list of full bottles, there were 3 Zinfandels listed. Granted, there are more obscure unique wines with a single choice. And 10+ choices each for Cab Sauv, Syrah, Cab Franc. An entire page for PN.

It seems if Zin was more popular, Passionfish would have more choices. BTW the dinner was a splurge, but I'd return for a special occasion.

https://www.passionfish.net/wine

After reading posts to date, I am encouraged by the mentions of Carlisle. Recently purchased some of their 2018 Sonoma County Zinfandel; seemed a good value. And despite a fall trip to Paso Robles, our cellar is low on Zin. Used to look to Paso as an area for value in Zin and Cab Sauv. But now the area offers so many varietals that a single bottle of Turley was the only Zinfandel purchased. And no Cabernet!

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#59 Post by AD Northup » February 12th, 2020, 7:29 pm

Al Osterheld wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 2:25 pm
Sky is another producer making interesting, more restrained Zinfandels.

-Al
Wasn’t the vineyard unfortunately lost in 2017? Had a 2013 about a year ago which was wonderful, especially at the roughly $30 price point I think I paid.
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#60 Post by Al Osterheld » February 12th, 2020, 7:52 pm

AD Northup wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 7:29 pm
Al Osterheld wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 2:25 pm
Sky is another producer making interesting, more restrained Zinfandels.

-Al
Wasn’t the vineyard unfortunately lost in 2017? Had a 2013 about a year ago which was wonderful, especially at the roughly $30 price point I think I paid.
I haven't heard a current update, but they supposedly lost between 20% and 50% of the vines (which is closer to correct would obviously make a huge difference). I think the 2013 was the last release, not sure where the later vintages were stored. The winery survived, a building that had some library wines was burned. So, not really sure how they are doing. I also thought the 2013 was wonderful, and have a little more.

-Al

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoasters popularity ride

#61 Post by AD Northup » February 12th, 2020, 7:53 pm

Al Osterheld wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 7:52 pm
AD Northup wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 7:29 pm
Al Osterheld wrote:
February 10th, 2020, 2:25 pm
Sky is another producer making interesting, more restrained Zinfandels.

-Al
Wasn’t the vineyard unfortunately lost in 2017? Had a 2013 about a year ago which was wonderful, especially at the roughly $30 price point I think I paid.
I haven't heard a current update, but they supposedly lost between 20% and 50% of the vines (which is closer to correct would obviously make a huge difference). I think the 2013 was the last release, not sure where the later vintages were stored. The winery survived, a building that had some library wines was burned. So, not really sure how they are doing. I also thought the 2013 was wonderful, and have a little more.

-Al
Great info, thanks!
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Rich Brown
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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoaster popularity ride

#62 Post by Rich Brown » February 12th, 2020, 7:56 pm

Appreciate the restaurant wine list links Adam and the article from a Somm, but to me, that doesnt prove that Zinfandel is out of favor with wine enthusiasts (or apparently the general wine drinking public - https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2019/ ... in-the-us/ ) , as sadly zinfandel has never seemed to be widely represented in restaurants (at least as long as I've been into wine).

But it looks like you're spot on about hipster Somms not wanting to touch it......which is certainly something that I won't be losing any sleep over.

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Re: Zinfandel's rollercoaster popularity ride

#63 Post by Thomas DeBiase » February 14th, 2020, 1:58 pm

There are brands that get more buzz (Bedrock), there are brands that have the legacy cred (Ridge), but there is one zinfandel that consistently stands above all others in my opinion, and that producer is Frog's Leap. Ribbet!
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