Does Zinfandel get better with age? That’s one of the great debates in California wine. Some do but most don’t, in my experience. Bold and youthful fruit are what Zins are all about. In some vintages, like the tightly wound 2005s, it pays to give them a year or so to unfurl. A handful of vineyards have enough muscle to back ageworthy Zins—“Old Hill” in Sonoma Valley comes to mind—and certain winemakers like to build them that way. Carol Shelton is one.
Her Wild Thing 2006 is a great case in point. As the name suggests, the wine can be untamed when first released, and the 2006 was no exception. It was a briary monster with considerable tannins, but it showed bold fruit and good structure—a Shelton hallmark. I revisited the 2006 recently, and it was coming into its own, smoothing out and starting to reveal finesse and a more supple texture. I rated it 91 points, non-blind. You can still find it around if you look hard, and it sells for a reasonable $28.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Carol Shelton Zinfandel Mendocino County Wild Thing Old Vine Cox Vineyard 2006 (90, $28).
• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among California Zinfandel.