Seghesio 2012 Sonoma County Zinfandel


I’ve written about the Seghesio Old Vines Zin before but today we look at the entry level Sonoma County Zin. In the States, this retails at $US24, here in Australia you’re looking at the mid-$40 mark.

For me, Seghesio is a reliable Zinfandel producer. Having drunk (sorry, tasted) the a few of the wines on several occasions now they are always cracking, exemplary examples of both grape and style. If anyone ever said to me “I want to try an American Zinfandel” I’d recommend Seghesio without batting an eyelid.

Zinfandel is a Croatian grape variety (very handy piece of wine trivia that one!) and in the incomparable Wine Grapes it is listed under its snappy Croatian name … Tribidrag.  It has a few synonyms but the ones you’re most likely to encounter are Zinfandel (California) and Primitivo (Puglia, Italy).  There’s quite a twisty turny grape DNA story about how Tribidag, Primitivo and Zinfandel came to be identified as one and the same and for the purposes of today’s didactic content – let’s just content ourselves with the end conclusion.

Today, we find the grape growing in Croatia and some of the other countries of the former Yugoslavia, along with the US (principally California), Israel, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and even France. It’s becoming increasingly widespread in Australia too – once upon a time it was WA’s Cape Mentelle all the way if you wanted an Australian Zin but there are now producers seemingly everywhere (Kangarilla Rd pops to mind without even thinking too hard!).

In the glass the wine is an intense and deep purple – this is obviously a young wine! The nose is reasonably pronounced, showing lots of black berry fruits, black cherry, some warm spice and vanilla and even some fruitcake.

On the palate, there is all that black fruit again – most particularly the black cherries. There’s also the vanilla and good acidity which helps balance out all the fruit bomb sweetness. The palate is more complex than the nose – with licorice and milk chocolate showing too. The tannins are fine and soft. The length isn’t bad although the complexity drops off reasonably quickly and it becomes all about the black cherry fruit.

This wine is just a touch hot – the alcohol is definitely noticeable and given the wine’s rather linear finish it does rather stick out. These two factors (alcohol and finish) push me towards good rather than very good.

If you’re looking for an introduction to American Zinfandel this is a great start (even with the alcohol – that’s a big part of US Zins!) – especially if you can’t track down or afford the Old Vines.

Edinburgh Cellars.
14.8% abv.

Seghesio 2006 Old Vine Zinfandel


I love this wine. And I probably love it for all the wrong reasons.

When I lived in Leeds I picked up a bottle from Latitude Wine. If I recall correctly, I believe it cost around £17 and, as my wine buying budget was always around the £15 mark, warranted a little bit of discussion. Wine was duly opened, tasted, with notes made and then drunk.

A few months later I was down in London to take the WSET‘s educator course. Because I was only taking the course to teach levels 1 and 2 I wasn’t expecting to have to do the guided tasting part of the assessment, so it was a surprise when I, too, had to pull a wine from a hat. My wine? The Seghesio Old Vine Zin. Even more miraculously, I actually had my tasting notes with me so I was able to refresh my memory in preparation. I suspect had I not passed the tasting exam I’d hate this wine, but I did so I have lots of happy memories associated with it.

I picked up two bottles at auction for just under $40 a bottle. The current release is the 2009 which the Seghesio website lists at $US38 so I think I got a pretty good deal here.

Zinfandel isn’t a wine that I personally associate with great ageing potential so I figured that I best crack open a bottle and see how it’s travelling.

In the glass the wine is very intense and sits somewhere between ruby and garnet.

Initially this wine was a little warm (remedied by 10 minutes in the fridge) and the whopping 15.5% alcohol was evident everywhere. However, once I’d cooled the wine down a touch, the nose was all about black fruit. Black currant, blackberry, black plum, black fruit jam, but all mixed in with a lot of spice and cedar.

On the palate, that black fruit was all there again, with some black pepper, fruit cake, chocolate and a licorice like finish with a hint of tar or tobacco. The tannins were very very soft and well integrated and there was just a touch of acidity (much needed to cut through all that rich fruit).

In educator mode, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that all that luxurious ripe fruit (and the high alcohol) should be suggesting to you that this is a wine from a warm to hot climate. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking the wine is sweet – it does have a silly amount of ripe fruit and those flavours can trick you into finding sugar that’s just not there. This is a 100% dry wine.

The truckloads of fruit here suggest to me that I don’t need to rush out to drink the other bottle but, given the low levels of acidity and very soft tannins, I won’t be putting it away for another 6 years either. I drank this bottle on Christmas Eve and I’d envisage drinking the next one within the next year.

Wines like this make me very happy. It’s so disappointing that they’re tricky to come across in Australia.

This wine was purchased at auction from Wickmans, for $35 + 11% buyer’s premium.
Closure: cork.