Zinfandel, with its berry jam, pepper and baking spice flavors, run the gamut from light and fruity to potent and concentrated. Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, home to many old vineyards, veteran Zinfandel farmers and family-owned wineries, produces some all-time favorites.
DASHE 2010 ZINFANDEL DRY CREEK VALLEY ($22)
This ever-reliable Zin is sophisticated and balanced with lithe blackberry and raspberry fruit, plus hints of licorice and vanilla.
Enjoy it: Curled up with a good book.
FREI BROTHERS 2011 RESERVE ZINFANDEL DRY CREEK VALLEY ($20)
This well-distributed Gallo label showcases some of the large company’s top vineyards. It’s a lovely Zin, with aromas of coriander and zippy baked cherry and raspberry flavors.
Perfect for: Back-to-back episodes of “The Walking Dead.”
XYZIN 2011 OLD VINE ZINFANDEL ($14)
Geyser Peak winemaker Ondine Chattan crafts this Zin from sources in Sonoma County and Lodi. It’s keenly focused, with bright red fruit and hints of black pepper and chocolate.
Enjoy it: Tailgating before a game.
BRADFORD MOUNTAIN 2011 ZINFANDEL GRIST VINEYARD DRY CREEK VALLEY ($24)
This smaller-production Zin made from hillside fruit has nimble blueberry, dried herb and cinnamon aromas and mineral-y red fruit flavors.
Serve it with: Homemade lasagna.
RENWOOD 2011 ZINFANDEL California ($15)
Star winemakers Kent Rosenblum and Jeff Cohn were brought in to revive this venerable brand, and they’re off to a good start. Their entry-level offering has juicy berry, spice and herb notes with great overall balance.
Perfect for: A nightcap.