If you like zinfandel, you have to consider Renwood Winery.
Renwood is located in the heart of California, about an hour east of Sacramento in the Sierra foothills of Amador County. If you're familiar with Amador, you know that part of California has earned a reputation for producing zinfandels that are among the best in the country.
Many of Renwood's wines are produced from over 400 acres of estate vineyards in the county, and although the winery produces a number of other wines in small quantities, such as barbera, viognier and pinot grigio, the focus lately has been on what I think the winery does best: zinfandel.
As the result of its recent acquisition by an Argentinian concern that specializes in the ownership of vineyards, wineries and olive oil plantations, Renwood now utilizes the expertise of winemakers from Argentina, Italy and Napa Valley. With a background that diverse, it's no wonder the winery now produces a complete line of zinfandels that are almost certain to please every taste preference and budget.
I've done some power-tasting of Renwood zins as of late, and although it's difficult to choose a favorite, I've narrowed it down to my "top five" based on character, flavor profile, and value for the dollar. My choices:
Red Label 2011 California Zinfandel (about $15) - This tasty "everyday" zin opens with fragrant aromatics of raspberry and vanilla. Juicy strawberry and blackberry flavors hit the palate with a big, round finish of blackberry framed by a hint of tartness.
Black Label 2010 Premier Old Vine Zinfandel (about $20) - There's a base of red cherry and plum for starters, with a plumper, underlying layer of rum raisin with hints of spice beneath. Decadent and delicious.
White Label 2010 Fiddletown Zinfandel (about $23) - Beautiful flavors of Ligurian cherry and black plum melt into a silky finish with a touch of chocolate. Overachieving, gorgeous and well worth the price.
Black Label 2010 Reserve Dry Creek Zinfandel (about $25) - This zin has sweet alfalfa and wild berries on the nose, plenty of bright red fruits on the palate, and a nicely structured finish that displays a bit of brambly berry and a dusting of tannins.
White Label 2010 Timberline Zinfandel (about $40) - Compact layers of chocolate cherry with nuances of black licorice and dried herbs highlight this outstanding zin. It's the perfect juxtaposition between yummy and elegant.
You'll find Renwood wines at area Haggen stores. If not in stock, they can be special ordered.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at www.danthewineguy.com.
Reach DEAN KAHN at email@example.com or call 715-2291.