The 2012 VINTJS Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is a $7.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. Dry Creek Valley is one of Sonoma’s sub–AVA’s and they have been growing Zinfandel here since the 1880s and many of these old Zinfandel vineyards are still in operation, often still owned by the original families. Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel tend to sell for $20 and up, though there are a few wineries with offerings in the $12 range. This wine was cellared and bottled (that means they aged the wine and bottled it, but that is probably all they did) by Our Cellars, not an actual winery, but a front for whoever is putting this Zinfandel deal together for TJ’s. They have a pretty good track record for delivering bang for the buck Trader Joe’s wines. TJ’s isn’t telling who grew the grapes or who produced the wine. The alcohol content is 13.9%.
The color is a dark, barely see-thru plum red, with a pink halo. The nose is juicy red berries, toasted bread, Black Twizzlers, and cold coffee. This Zinfandel has rich, but not jammy fruit flavors, it seems a little thin in the middle, but has nice over-all balance with a hit of pepper on the mid palate and finish. It tastes of blackberries, licorice, sweet strawberry, a soft hit of Altoid’s spice and black pepper. The tannins are in control and the acidity is balanced. The finish is fairly strong and while it fades quickly, it does linger for a good length of time.
The 2012 VINTJS Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is a very solid, balanced, tasty wine. Zinfandel in this price range is usually a riot of jammy fruit and spice, but not the VINTJS. While the flavors will be familiar to value priced Zinfandel lovers, the VINTJS is toned down and slightly elegant (which is a weird word to describe Zinfandel). The Dry Creek Zinfandel is definitely worth trying, you might want to also pick up a bottle of your favorite Lodi Zinfandel and do a taste-off, it would be a fairly inexpensive way to learn a thing or two about Zinfandel wines.