You've missed a lot if you haven't followed Zinfandel the past few years. A quiet revolution has been going on in California, as a group of Zinfandel firebrands are raising the bar on quality. It's something I've written about as far back as 2009, but it's finally seeing fruition.
I explore the trend more thoroughly in "Zinfandel's Renaissance," part of the cover package for the June 30 issue of Wine Spectator. The cult favorite and distinctly Californian wine just may be poised for a long-deserved mainstream revival.
"It seems like Zinfandel is no longer considered a second-class citizen," said Mike Officer of Carlisle Winery, who along with Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock and Tegan Passalacqua of Turley Wine Cellars is among the trendsetters.
The greatest strides in the past decade have come in the vineyard, not the winery. Since producers were lucky to get $20 a bottle in the past, most growers couldn't afford to give their Zinfandel vineyards the royal treatment. Now that top Zins routinely fetch $40 or $50 a bottle, that's changing. "We're farming them as carefully and lovingly as the finest Pinot or Cabernet vineyard," Officer said. "They're getting the full-tilt boogie."
You'll get all the details in the current issue. I also tell you which 15 California wineries currently have the best track record for Zinfandel, plus I offer my take on the 2010 vintage in my annual report.
Finally, there's a profile of Larry Turley, one of the wine industry's great characters, and a man whose passion and drive made Turley Wine Cellars' powerful yet balanced Zins the stylistic role model for California.
So if you haven't tried Zinfandel in a while, now's the time to give it another chance. You'll be surprised.