Every wine consumer seems to have a “line in the sand” price for certain varietals. For Napa Cabernet, many draw the line at $100. Top flight Pinot Noir and Syrah from California draw wide support up to the $50 price point. For Zinfandel the threshold seems much lower. That point for Zinfandel seems to be right around $40.
Why is it that Zinfandel can’t command the same premium as other California varietals?
I have a few theories:
- For the most part Zinfandel is best enjoyed in the first few years after bottling. I think many consumers feel if they are going to pay a premium for a bottle of wine that it needs to be age-worthy.
- Lets face it, Zinfandel is not a grape that people take as seriously as Cabernet or Pinot Noir. Would you ever open a bottle of expensive Cabernet with a pepperoni pizza? Probably not. Zinfandel and pizza is a match made in heaven.
- People don’t understand the uniqueness of the wine. Many of the Zins I’m willing to pay a premium for are from historic vineyards, representing the heritage of winemaking in California. Yields from these vineyards, many of which are over 100 years old, are miniscule. I’m talking about treasured vineyards such as Hayne, Papera, Old Hill, Dickerson and Ueberroth. To expect $20 wines from sites like these is simply unrealistic.
If you have a hard time paying more than $40 for Zinfandel, you are missing out on some exceptional wines:
- Black Sears– $42
- Brown Napa Valley – $40
- Carlisle Montafi, Martinelli and Carlisle Vineyard – $45
- Outpost Howell Mtn. – $52
- Turley Ueberroth – $45
- Rafanelli – $42
- Williams Selyem Papera – $48
Do you have a line in the sand price for Zinfandel? What Zins will you pay more for?