March 2005                              


Wines of the month - Paul DeRose

Zinfandel - An American Classic

Zinfandel is a relative newcomer to the world of wine, only being found in abundance in California since the 1850s and producing nothing worth bragging about until the 1970s. “Zin”, as coined by its fans, has always been known to not be a California native, but it has taken DNA testing to trace its origins to southern Italy and Croatia, where it makes simple red table wines and is known as Primitivo and Crljenak, respectively. In spite of this, Zin is considered by many to be an American classic, since it has made its name here in rags-to-riches fashion, producing red wines that are deeply colored, spicy and bursting with “Zin”berry fruit. Unfortunately, even now it often does not get the credit it deserves due to a combination of its humble pedigree, that is, wine snobs turn their noses up at its non-French origins, and its kinship with “White Zinfandel”, the popular, but less than stellar sweet rosé made from the same grape. The good news behind all of this is that many a delicious Zin can be purchased in the 10-15 dollar range and world-class examples are easily found for about $30.

Listed below are some of my favorites in order of preference. Feel free to direct any questions or comments to me at

• Ridge Lytton Springs ($30)
• Ravenswood Teldeschi ($30)
• Ridge Geyserville ($30)*
• Rosenblum Rockpile Road, Dry Creek Valley ($28)
• Ravenswood Dickerson Vineyard ($30)
• Rosenblum Continente Vineyard, San Francisco Bay ($22)
• Ridge Three Valleys ($20)
• St. Francis Old Vines ($17) *
• Ravenswood Lodi ($14) *
• Ravenswood Sonoma County ($14) *
• Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend ($10) *
• Rancho Zabaco Heritage Vines ($12)*
• Francis Coppola Rosso ($10) *
• Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red ($10)*

* indicates available in Montgomery County