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Buy These Value Zins While You Can

Few bargains as the 2010 and 2011 vintages come on the market
Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: May 30, 2012 10:00am ET

Zinfandel has gotten more expensive in recent years, there's no arguing that. Zin vines will crank out buckets of wishy-washy juice if you let them, but it takes effort and time and money to make great Zin.

That's particularly true with the 2010 and 2011 vintages, in which Zin makers faced every plague but locust. Good Zins from those vintages selling for less than $15 or $20 a bottle will be few and far. In my annual report, "Zinfandel Elegance" in the June 30 issue of Wine Spectator, I was so concerned about the challenges and quality of those vintages that I didn't give readers enough good advice on value.

Consider this the makeup test.

Consumers are lucky because there are still plenty of tasty 2009 bargains on the shelves and a few 2010 values are arriving. Only providence knows what the next year will bring with the 2011s.

Here are 10 of my favorite values from the past year. I'm sure I missed a few. Any suggestions? I selected wines that had good availability and cost less than $20. Wine Spectator members can read the full reviews by clicking on the links.

Ancient Peaks Zinfandel Paso Robles 2009 (88 points, $17)

Artezin Zinfandel Mendocino County 2010 (90, $18)

Cline Zinfandel California Ancient Vines 2010 (87, $16)

De Loach Zinfandel Russian River Valley 2010 (88, $18)

Easton Zinfandel Amador County 2010 (90, $18)

Edmeades Zinfandel Mendocino County 2009 (88, $20)

Kenwood Zinfandel Sonoma County 2009 (87, $14)

Kunde Estate Zinfandel Sonoma Valley 2009 (90, $18)

Sausal Zinfandel Alexander Valley Family 50 Year Old Vines 2009 (88, $19)

Trentadue Zinfandel Alexander Valley Geyserville Estate 2009 (88, $15)

Mark O Goodson
Baton Rouge, LA —  May 30, 2012 3:10pm ET
I would throw the 2010 Novy Russian River Valley Zin in there as well. Thanks for the recommendations!
Dave Reuther
Deerfield, Illinois —  May 30, 2012 3:47pm ET
I am currently enjoying a case of the 2010 Artezin Zin. Also I was able to buy the 2009 Seghesio Sonoma County for under $20 as well as the 2009 Quivira Dry Creek Valley and 2009 Buehler Napa Valley. All of them enjoyable Zins.
Denny Kleber
Charlotte NC —  May 30, 2012 5:22pm ET
Costco has the 2010 Seghesio Sonoma Zin (90 points) for $17.99 where I live. Great bargain. Also, try The Predator. I love it for $15.
Tim Fish
Santa Rosa, CA —  May 30, 2012 5:50pm ET
Good recommendations. Thanks for contributing.
Ted Keyser
Dripping Springs, Tx —  May 30, 2012 8:37pm ET
Absolutely agree re '09 Quivira ~ a steal for under $20. '09 Bogle for under $10 as well. '09 Klinker Brick very well balanced and 'Best in Class under $20' SF Chronicle Wine Competition. But fav right now has to be '09 Ridge Paso Robles - it JAMS (pun intended) and I found it for less than $25 :-) Thanks for the heads up on that Tim !!!
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  May 31, 2012 10:39am ET
I love me some Tobin James Zins! I've been drinking them for the past 10 years and have rarely been disappointed. They're only a good value if you belong to their wine club (coming in around $20/bottle), but it's not an expensive club to join and the wines are consistently good enough to serve at most parties.
Ryan Sherman
Lodi, CA USA —  May 31, 2012 4:58pm ET
Tim - just curious, not a single Lodi AVA wine made the lineup? Your readership should know about some of the great wines coming out of the Lodi Region, from some of the great newer artisinal producers..the wines consistently over deliver and under charge.
Richard Lee
Napa —  May 31, 2012 6:27pm ET
On a side note, perhaps the powers to be at WS should allow you review Zinfandels good friend Petite Sirah. It is such a shame that there have been only 19 reviews of PS for all of the 2009 and 2010 vintages. I have easily teated over 50 PS in the last year. Spectator promised back in December when JL reviewed Relic that it would amp up the reviews. 6 months later and nothing has changed.
Rick Shumard
Placitas, NM USA —  May 31, 2012 10:17pm ET
Just received a half case of 2008 Ravenswood Teldeschi Zinfandel based on a recommendation from a trade critic I respect. I'm trying a bottle this weekend, but would like to know of others' experiences with this one.
Earline Leppert Ahonima
San Francisco, CA —  June 1, 2012 2:27pm ET
Thanks, Tim. I always enjoy your suggestions and your wisdom. In the realm of Zinfandel, I've become a fan of Carol Shelton Zins almost to the point of exclusivity. (The fact that I'm member of her wine club and awash in the stuff helps.) She has several in the $19-21 range for non-members; member discount is 20%, I believe. Her Monga and Wild Thing Zins are my current favorite everyday Zins (cute names notwithstanding).
Larry Silva
Danville, CA —  June 5, 2012 11:02am ET
I would add Opolo Zins to the list. They are from Paso Robles.

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