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Prized Pickings: Zinfandel

Discover Zinfandel’s dark and brooding charm.

From California to Puglia, Zinfandel (or Primitivo) has made a name for itself as an intense, powerful wine that is a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats.

TAVROS, PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA 2016
Puglia, Italy

Tavros, Primitivo Di Manduria 2016

Primitivo, the Italian twin of Zinfandel, hails from Puglia’s Manduria region, where it thrives in the warm climate. This offering from Tavros is unabashedly big and bold, bursting with notes of dark fruit, liquorice, roast meat, and capsicum. The soft tannins round off the fleshy mid-palate, making this a very luscious, delicious sip. Drink this now or cellar it for a few more years.
$75, from 1855 The Bottle Shop. Tel: 6251 1855

TORREVENTO, GHENOS, PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA 2017 Puglia, Italy

Torrevento, Ghenos Primitivo Di Manduria 2017

Torrevento’s Primitivo was one of the memorable sips we had at the Gambero Rosso Italian Wines event in May. Aged for six months in barriques, the wine flaunts a dark purple hue, with intense aromas of cherries, pepper, and plums. On the palate, the full-bodied structure unfurls rich notes of coffee, vanilla, and dark fruit. Pair this brooding quaff with a steak or lamb.
$57, from winelistasia.com

SILVERADO VINEYARDS, SODA CREEK RANCH, ZINFANDEL 2013
Napa Valley, California

Silverado Vineyards, Soda Creek Ranch, Zinfandel 2013

The Soda Creek Ranch vineyard was purchased by Ron and Diane Miller, co-founders of Silverado Vineyards, in 1990, after a visit to Tuscany inspired them to look for a parcel back home to grow Sangiovese. Today, the rocky vineyard is home to Sangiovese, Kerner, and Zinfandel. Because of the vineyard’s location midway up a canyon, the area sits under some canyon shade, giving it a cool meso-climate.

Thus, this isn’t a full-bodied Zinfandel built like a tank. Aged for slightly more than a year in French and American oak, the wine delivers the characteristic notes of dark fruit, liquorice, and smoked meat you’d expect from this grape variety, but the structure is well-balanced, leaning a little towards the mellow side. The long finish is accompanied by soft tannins. Pair this wine with lamb chops.
$83, from 1855 The Bottle Shop. Tel: 6251 1855

LOUIS M. MARTINI, MONTE ROSSO, GNARLY VINE ZINFANDEL 2014
Sonoma Valley, California

Louis M. Martini, Monte Rosso, Gnarly Vine Zinfandel 2014

Wine tasting events can pan out like a singles matchmaking party: we attended a Louis M. Martini luncheon, expecting to swoon over the Cabernet Sauvignon wines, but in the end, we fell in love with the Zinfandel, which wasn’t poured for us but, metaphorically, left at the bar, alone; the seemingly odd but precocious one. Don’t get us wrong. The Cabernets were delicious but something about this Zinfandel kept drawing us back for more.

The Zinfandel comes from the Monte Rosso vineyard, a high-altitude plot located 1,300 feet in the Mayacamas Mountains. Sitting above the cool fog line, the vineyard is ideal for growing rich reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The 2014 vintage was reportedly a good season: steady, warm temperatures from spring to summer encouraged a long harvest, which gave the Zinfandel a very concentrated profile. The mid-palate offers layers of blackberries, mint, dark chocolate, and pepper—all backed up by a long, lush finish.
$176, from maltwineasia.com 

LOUIS M. MARTINI, MONTE ROSSO, GNARLY VINE ZINFANDEL 2014
Sonoma Valley, California

De Loach, Heritage Reserve, Zinfandel 2017

An old-timer in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, De Loach is known for its Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay. For this price range, the Heritage Reserve Zinfandel—which combines fruit from the winery’s Russian River vineyards and other regions in California—punches above its weight. The medium- to full-bodied wine offers ripe cherry and raspberry aromas, along with a sensuous mid-palate of dark fruit, cinnamon, and coffee. Acidity is quite bright and lends a playful touch to the finish. You can bank on this to be a crowd-pleaser at your party.
$52, from wineconcierge.biz

This article was first published in the Sep/Oct 2019 Celebrating Singapore’s Top Restaurants issue of Wine & Dine.

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