The Rancho Zabaco Sonoma Heritage Vines Dry Creek Zinfandel 2014 is 94% Zinfandel and 6% Petite Sirah sourced from vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley AVA inside the Sonoma County AVA of Northern California. Many of you may remember Rancho Zabaco for their Dancing Bull line of wines (mainly Zinfandel), E & J Gallo split Rancho Zabaco and Dancing Bull to 2 separate brands. Dancing Bull usually shows California as place of origin and is value priced, while Rancho Zabaco wines showcase Sonoma County and especially Dry Creek and Rancho Zabaco is now a Premium wine (anything over 12 bucks is considered premium). Gallo (have had holdings in Dry Creek since 1990) owns a good portion of the vineyards in Dry Creek and farm some top-notch vineyards in the valley. Dry Creek Valley has grown Zinfandel since 1870 and most of the vineyards survived during prohibition by supplying home winemakers, so this is seriously good location to grow Zinfandel grapes. Dry Creek is a tributary of the Russian River and while the Russian River AVA is a cool climate growing area known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Dry Creek has warmer day time temperatures, but has the cool nights and mornings grapes need to thrive. This Zin was aged in both new and used French and American oak barrels. French and American oak each impart different flavors into the wine and a new barrel releases more oak influence than a used barrel. Getting just the right structure and flavor into the wine is something of a complex math problem for the winemaker, used American oak for this amount of time, new French oak for this long and so on. Getting this perfected is one of the reasons value priced wines taste so good, proper oak influence was once the domain of only expensive wines. The alcohol content is a ripe 14.8%.
The color is an opaque, extracted black cherry red. The nose is ripe berries, chocolate, licorice, smoke and spice. This is a dry Zinfandel with loads of flavor, it is not shy, this is a California wine. It tastes of cherry, blackberry, a solid dash of sweet blueberry, pepper, herbs, and spice. The mid-palate brings dusty chocolate powder, slightly sour cherry, a little vanilla, and cigar tabacco. The tannins do not get in the way and there is enough acidity to allow the flavors to unfold, and there is a lot of flavor. The acidity brightens up the finish and allows it to hold on and on.
The Rancho Zabaco Sonoma Heritage Vines Dry Creek Zinfandel 2014 is a very tasty Zinfandel, it does a good job of combining the elegance found in Sonoma Zinfandel with the more rough and ready Zins often associated with Lodi. I found the Rancho Zabaco on sale for $11.99, lists for around $15 and it is a very solid, highly drinkable Zinfandel. I got into Zinfandel through the Zins of Lodi and I used to think that Sonoma Zins were a little too straight-laced, a little bit reserved, something Lodi Zinfandel never is. The Rancho Zabaco is the best of both worlds, elegance, plus it’s a party in your glass.