Some wine people can be snobbish about red zinfandel, in part because it's an iconic American wine, a bold survivor since the 1849 Gold Rush that wears deep California fruit and spice with the easy welcome of a backyard barbecue.
As a result, good red zin remains one of the best bargains around - especially nice in tailgating season.
The Biker from Four Vines, on sale at WineWorks in Marlton, is a perfect example of what zin can do for $15 – a full-throttle Paso Robles burst of raspberry, anise, pepper, and smoke. A bigger splurge on Robert Biale's Black Chicken brings a historic hook: "Black chicken" was code in the 1940s for a jug of illegal wine at the Biale's Napa poultry farm.
The 2011 Biale also shows the depth and polish zin can achieve, with mint and exotic spice tracing black fruit that is both as hedonistic as berry pie (15.8% alcohol!) and full of the kind of finesse only a great wine can achieve.
- Craig LaBan
Four Vines 2010 Biker zinfandel, $14.98 (sale price), Robert Biale 2011 Black Chicken, $36.98 (sale price), both at WineWorks, 319 W. Route 70, Marlton, 856-596-3330.