Good White Zinfandel?

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Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Sam Platt » Sat May 26, 2007 10:53 am

We went to dinner last night with two other couples who enjoy wine. Over the course of the evening, and several very tasty wines, the subject of white zin came up. Everyone started poo-pooing the stuff, but, when questioned, no one had actually tasted any in the last six years. Our data base and ability to speak with any authority was very limited. So, have any forum members sampled a white zinfandel that they would admit to and recommend? I can guess the answer, but thought it was worth asking.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Carl Eppig » Sat May 26, 2007 11:21 am

Buehler, Napa Valley is about the best IMHO. Also tolerate the oft recommended Berringer.

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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Howie Hart » Sat May 26, 2007 12:14 pm

A few years ago at a party, I poured a glass of wine for non-geek lady who likes White Zin. "Wow! Howie, this is the best White Zin I've ever tasted. Did you make this?" It was my home made Steuben. :?
Chico - Hey! This Bottle is empty!
Groucho - That's because it's dry Champagne.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Robin Garr » Sat May 26, 2007 12:25 pm

Sam Platt wrote:have any forum members sampled a white zinfandel that they would admit to and recommend? I can guess the answer, but thought it was worth asking.


I'll try to answer without being a snob: Most White Zin is technically soundly made, and there's no disputing the fact that there's a huge market for the stuff. But I don't think most "wine geeks" would go for any of it, not because it's flawed but because it's like other products made for mass-market tastes: Unchallenging and even insipid. It's like industrial American beer brands in that it doesn't matter which label you choose, they're all pretty much the same.
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Yup....

Postby TomHill » Sat May 26, 2007 12:28 pm

So, Sat night I sat down w/ three strangers:
~ HendryVnyds HendryRanch NapaVlly Rose Wine (13%; 100% Primitivo) 2005: $15.50
~ SutterHomeFamilyVnyds Calif White Merlot (11.5%) 2006: $4.00
~ GalloFamilyVnyds TwinVlly White Zinfandel Calif (9%) 2006: $4.00

I had never in my life knowingly tried a White Merlot. I hadn't had a SutterHome White Zin in probably 4-5 yrs. I'm usually pretty good in finding at least something good in most any wine. I'm also using blush wine and rose wine interchangeably here. So...two blushes and a rose. There was no obvious differences in the colors that would distinguish one from the other.
The two wine shops I stopped in SantaFe at had no Gallo, SutterHome, nor Beringer blush wines. I had to stop at an Albertson's grocery store to pick up those gems; hoping I could do so annomously and nobody would see TomHill buying a WhiteMerlot.

So, I poured a healthy glass of each of the three, labeled the bottom of each glass, closed my eyes & shuffled them around till I no longer knew which was which, a semi-blind tasting. And then I tasted them:
___________
Wine #1: Pale bright red color; rather grapey/simple/bit spicy very ruhbarb slight chile powder/cotton candy very slight pickle juice (VA?) nose; soft/underacid fairly sweet slight herbal/weedy/chile powder very ruhbarby simple/grapey flavor; very short/vapid slight herbal/weedy finish; pretty boring stuff.
___________
Wine#2: Pale red color; very grapey/candied/confected very strong strawberry/Nehi strawberry soda pop slight floral/muscat nose; soft/underacid/watery pretty sweet strong strawberry/strawberry soda pop/confected simple/vapid flavor; very short strong strawberry/confected/vapid finish.
___________
Wine#3: Pale salmon/onion skin/red color; bit deeper/earthy/dusty slight spicy low key/grapey nose; soft slightly off-dry candied lightly grapey/fruity slightly earthy/dusty flavor; short cotton candy/grapey/confected slight earthy/dusty finish.
____________________________________________

I thought the Hendry would stick out like a sore thumb. It did not. I was expecting a lot from it and it failed to deliver. I should have gone with the Beiler Provence Rose (mostly Syrah).
I did correctly identify the wines as:

#1: SutterHome WhiteMerlot: the slight weedy character was the tipoff.

#2: Gallo White Zinfandel: the suggestion of strawberries on the back label was the tipoff. This wine can only come from addition of artificial strawberry flavoring.

#3: Hendry Rose: the slightly lower r.s. level was the tipoff; plus the lower candied/confected character.

All three of these wines suffer from the same criticism I level at the 2$Chuck wines. They simply have no character of interest other than grapey. They are utterly boring and vapid wines. I cannot conceive of any circumstances that I would be able to drink these wines with any degree of pleasure. Later, I retried the wines w/ Pan-Seared/Orange Glazed Sea Scallops. The dish, slightly sweet as it was, did nothing for the wines other than make them seem even more vapid.

So...bottom line...I see no reason to waste my alcohol consumption on the genre of blush wines. It's simply not a category of wine that appeals to my (snobbish?) palate. But, you say, you didn't try the Beringer White Zin. True, and maybe, just maybe, it IS a wine I would enjoy drinking. But I find the probability of that being true unlikely.

I certainly don't dismiss rose wines as a category at all. I've had a number in the last month that I thoroughly enjoyed. So, as I walk down the supermarket aisle, and bypass the Franzia box of White Cabernet (even though I've never tried it) in favor of the EdmundsStJohn Bone Jolly Rose, or skip over the SutterHome WhiteZin-Chard (even though I've never tried it) in favor of the Ojai Rose, or ignore the Woodbridge White Dornfelder (even though I've never tried it) to grab the Einkidu Grenache Rose; does that make me a wine snob??? I really could not care less. Life IS too short to be drinking bad wine. And from what I've seen Sat night, and on a few other occasions; blush wines offer me nothing of interest. Rose wines?? Yeah, I will continue to try them and, no doubt, find some I can drink w/ pleasure. But I don't think it'll say Gallo on the label and sell for $4/btl.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Shaji M » Sat May 26, 2007 5:53 pm

Is white Zinfandel a Rose made from Zinfandel? or is it something else? In any case, I have had white Zinfandels which were tolerable, but none that I liked.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby David M. Bueker » Sat May 26, 2007 6:47 pm

Yes, it is a rose made from Zin.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby wnissen » Sun May 27, 2007 12:15 am

For my money, the junky Sutter Home and Franzia white zins do have serious flaws, while Beringer is confected but at least drinkable. DeLoach makes a white zin that could be classified as real wine.

However, the best white zin is... Bugey. Don't tell Kermit I said that, OK?

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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Sam Platt » Sun May 27, 2007 11:00 am

Wow! Thanks for all the input. It sounds like White Zin is still the "Bud Light" of wines. Frankly, I didn't like White Zin very much even when I had no real basis for comparison. I might keep an eye out for the Delaoch, Bugey, etc., but I'm currently on a NZ SB and white Burg. kick as far as whites go.

Tom - Why did you subject yourself to that pain? Was it in the interest of science?
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby TomHill » Sun May 27, 2007 11:44 am

Sam Platt wrote:Tom - Why did you subject yourself to that pain? Was it in the interest of science?


One of the judges on the SFChron wine judging panel who happened to judge the blush wine competition (in which a SutterHome White Merlot took a gold I recall) labeled folks who criticed/dismissed blush wines as "snobs" because we hadn't actually tried the wines. So I decided to put my $$ where my mouth was and actually try a couple. My snobbish preconceptions were, in this case, correct.
I had wanted to try the Hendry Rose because it's 100% Primitivo saignee and I'd recently had the red Primitivo and liked it quate a lot. Pretty disappointing.
It WAS a painful experience. But I do even crazier things for scinece.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby David M. Bueker » Sun May 27, 2007 1:28 pm

Sam - be careful, the Bugey is not White Zin. It is however a very refreshing, strawberry laced sparkler that has low alcohol and drinks like gourmet Kool Ade on a hot summer day. Vin de Bugey from either of the major producers (the names of both escape me for the moment) is a great QPR quaff.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby David M. Bueker » Sun May 27, 2007 1:28 pm

Ah - one of them is Renardat-Fache (imported by Dressner).
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Doug Surplus » Mon May 28, 2007 2:05 am

Based on the definition of White Zin as a Rose made from Zinfandel, there is one that I enjoy. Page Springs Cellars here in Arizona makes a Sainge from Zinfandel that is well above the White Zins in aroma and taste. It is a true, dry Rose that is very refreshing and far from vapid.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon May 28, 2007 2:22 pm

Doug Surplus wrote:Based on the definition of White Zin as a Rose made from Zinfandel


Not to play the pedant, Doug (well, not much), but I would be very surprised to see a producer who consciously makes Zinfandel in a classic Provencal rosé style bill it as "White Zin," simply because that term has become so identified with sweetish "blush" that neither the vendor nor the consumer would be well served by this labeling. People who want a crisp dry rosé would turn away, and people who <i>want</i> a blush style would be horrified.

If such a thing exists at all, I'd expect to find "Zinfandel Rosé" or maybe "Rosé of Zinfandel" on the label.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Shaji M » Mon May 28, 2007 9:24 pm

Robin,
If white Zin ain't always a Rose, what is it usually?
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon May 28, 2007 9:32 pm

Shaji M wrote:Robin,
If white Zin ain't always a Rose, what is it usually?


It's a rosé. Robin just means that if a less "industrial" producer were to make one they might not call it "White Zin" due to cultural connotations.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Doug Surplus » Mon May 28, 2007 11:13 pm

To be clear Robin, Page Springs doesn't call it's Sainge a White Zin. If they had 1) I would have been very surprised and 2) I wouldn't buy it.


And admit it, you love being a pedant.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Shaji M » Tue May 29, 2007 12:37 am

David M. Bueker wrote:It's a rosé. Robin just means that if a less "industrial" producer were to make one they might not call it "White Zin" due to cultural connotations.


Thanks David. I love my Zins mind you, but it is no Tavel!
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby David Cohen » Tue May 29, 2007 12:59 am

Good wine poll

Have you ever tasted White Zinfindal?

I need not answer later as I have not.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Bob Ross » Tue May 29, 2007 1:26 am

Robin, I thought it might be fun to do a White Zinfandel tasting. I went to Wine Searcher Pro, and was shocked to see how many different examples were on offer. I started at the cheapest, and worked my way through the first 18 pages, listing only unique examples, then I gave up. Wine Searcher Pro gave up after 36 pages.

Boy, this wine is really popular. And retailers use it as a loss leader, based on what I saw just glancing through. A real education, and I'm not sure I'd like to do a taste off. :)

Regards, Bob

Glen Ellen Winery White Zinfandel (split) $1.09
Sutter Home Winery White Zinfandel (split) $1.19
Ernest & Julio Gallo White Zinfandel (split) $1.29
Beringer (187ML), White Zinfandel, Napa, California, USA $1.29
VENDANGE Single WHITE ZIN $1.29
Coastal Ridge White Zinfandel 2004 187 ml, 2004 $1.40.
Hacienda White Zinfandel California, "Clair de Lune" 2005 187 ml, 2005 $1.42
Estate Cellars White Zinfandel 187 ml $1.43
ARBOR MIST WHITE ZINFANDEL, STRAWBERRY $1.43
ARBOR MIST WHITE ZINFANDEL, EXOTIC FRUITS $1.43
TWIN VALLEY WHITE ZINFANDEL $1.50
Woodbridge White Zinfandel 187ml 2003, $1.85
Fetzer Vineyards White Zinfandel $1.86
Robert Mondavi White Zinfandel Woodbridge 2005 $1.99
Ernest & Julio Gallo Twin Valley Vineyards $1.99
Blossom Hill White Zinfandel 2005 $2.00
Gallo of Sonoma White Zinfandel Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley $2.45
DONA SOL WHITE ZINFANDEL $2.49
Wild Vines Strawberry White Zinfandel Wine - 750 Ml $2.99
FOXHORN WHITE ZINFANDEL $2.99
Pacific Peak White Zinfandel $2.99
Lyrica - Passion Berry - White Zinfandel $2.99
Walnut Crest White Zinfandel Central Valley Magnum $2.99
Inglenook White Zinfandel $2.99
Tisdale White Zinfandel $2.99
Ch St Nicholas White Zinfandel $3.00
Arbor Mist Melon White Zinfandel $3.00
CORBETT CANYON WHITE ZINFANDEL $3.49
Ariel 'De-alcoholized' White Zinfandel $3.60
ST NICHOLAS WHITE ZINFADEL $3.78
SUMMERFIELD WHITE ZINFANDEL 2005 USA, 2005 $3.80
NATHANSON CREEK WHITE ZINFANDEL $3.89
Canyon Oaks White Zinfandel $3.99

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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Sam Platt » Tue May 29, 2007 9:58 pm

You're right Bob. White Zin is cheaper than sport drink. I am going to pick a couple up for weekend sampling. We will be with a mix of wine lovers and wine not-lovers. I bet the not-lovers will like it. Wish I could serve it blind to see how the geeks react to it.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby John Fiola » Tue May 29, 2007 10:36 pm

What I would do if I could is sort the list by price and start at the most expensive.

Then I would work my way down from there.... or is it go down hill from there... :wink:

I would be interested as I'll be teaching a class shortly on rose's and if (and that's a BIG IF), I can find a "good white zin" I would use it. Wouldn't be heart-broken if I didn't as there are lots of wonderful dry rose's out there.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed May 30, 2007 7:42 am

John,

If you're teaching a class on rosé then I would use something like Beringer White Zin. Give folks the chance to compare and contrast the insipid plonk versus the real thing.
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Re: Good White Zinfandel?

Postby Robin Garr » Wed May 30, 2007 7:51 am

David M. Bueker wrote:If you're teaching a class on rosé then I would use something like Beringer White Zin. Give folks the chance to compare and contrast the insipid plonk versus the real thing.


I agree, and for the sake of science might be tempted to avoid "guiding" the class by setting the scene with, "As you will see, this stuff is insipid plonk."
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