(“Up to the Challenge,” June 30, 2020). More than half of the 2018s received outstanding scores of 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale, a fine showing that earns the vintage an overall rating of 94 points in Sonoma and 92 in Napa. Early indications point to another excellent vintage in 2019, for which I give a preliminary score of 93-96 points for both regions.
There’s more good news. Both the 2018 and 2019 harvests yielded large crops, which means value hunters will have a larger selection of Zins to choose from. More than 65% of the wines priced at $25 or less in this report rated 87 points or higher. That’s a lot of bang for the buck. Since many of us are watching our pennies these days, Lee’s focus on the best buys first.
Winemaker Michael Dashe produced a bevy of good wines chis year, but the Dashe Zinfandel California Vineyard Select 2018 (91 points, $24) stands out for its burst of blackberry fruit and excellent structure. The Carol Shelton Zinfandel Mendocino County Wild Thing Old Vine is one of my favorite Zin values year after year and the 2018 bottling (91, $19) is a fruit bomb with a backbone. Achieving great things at St. Francis is winemaker Katie Madigan, whose bold Zinfandel Sonoma County Old Vines 2018 (91, $22) is easygoing yet substantial.
Zinfandel thrives throughout California, yielding great values from multiple regions. Look for Terra d’Oro’s Zinfandel Amador County 2018 (89, $18), loaded with fresh cherry and sage; Three Wine Company’s zesty and briary Zinfandel Contra Costa County 2018 (90, $16); Lava Cap’s Zinfandel El Dorado Reserve 2018 (89, $28), brimming with jammy raspberry accents; and Mettler’s sleek and snappy Zinfandel Lodi Epicenter Old Vine 2018 (89, $25).Learn More