I started to understand and appreciate zinfandel during a tasting at Ridge in Sonoma Valley last month. Very few of the Ridge zins are 100% zinfandel grape. The winery tends to blend the zinfandel grape with other varietals including petit sirah, carignane, grenache, and syrah. I think the blending makes Ridge zins well-balanced and less over-the-top jammy or spicy.
The 2008 Three Valleys starts with lots of fruit, blackberry and cherry (I think), with a touch of vanilla spice and layers of toasted oak. Well-balanced and silky in the mouth. Medium-bodied, long finish. $25 a bottle. Look forward to drinking this again!
Image from K&L Wines