Paso Robles Zinfandel

We tasted two bargain Zinfandel wines side-by-side, Paso Robles Peachy Canyon Zin VS Trader Joe’s Paso Robles Reserve Zin. I think both of these wines are good examples of the style of Zinfandel coming from the Paso Robles area.

Comparing two Paso Robles Zinfandel wines

Paso Robles Zinfandel

Paso Robles Zinfandel

Peachy Canyon Westside 2011 – $12.99 Costco, $19.99 BevMo

Previously, Vintage Wine Taster Bruce recommended this Peachy Canyon Zinfandel and we thought it would be fun to try it and also compare it with a Trader Joe’s Zinfandel from the same area. The Peachy Canyon Zin has nice fruity and jammy aromas that pop from the wine glass. The taste is vibrant fruit but not too fruit forward. The Peachy Canyon is quite big in the mouth, perhaps due to the 15% alcohol. Peachy Canyon winery has been one of the stalwarts in the Paso Robles wine country with an emphasis on Zinfandel, making several different ones. It is a fun winery to visit when you are in the Paso Robles wine country. I really liked this wine very much with the first glass, but after that I began to be less enthusiastic about the wine (read below). My rating is 88 Points.

Trader Joe’s Reserve Paso Robles Zinfandel Lot 84 2012 – $9.99

The aroma is not as abundant as the Peachy Canyon, perhaps half as much. Plum and vanilla mark the aroma characteristics and in the mouth a bit more fruit forward, but definitely somewhat harsh going down. That’s surprising considering the alcohol is 14.5% compared to the Peachy Canyon’s 15%. The wine overall is tasty but a little big for my palate. To get more information on this wine I found this blurb on the TJ Website: “The wine comes to us directly from the growers, who also happen to be the winemakers. The Zinfandel grapes are estate grown, taken from premium blocks on the property. It’s everything you expect from a quality California Zin – bold and fruit driven, with juicy raspberry, boysenberry and black cherry notes; it lingers on your palate with firm tannins and that much-anticipated peppery finish.” 87 Points is our rating.

After opening both wines and sampling, Janelle and I agreed that the Peachy Canyon Westside was a step above the Trader Joe’s Paso Robles Zinfandel. We decided to continue drinking the Peachy Canyon with our dinner, a rotisserie chicken we’d purchased at our local supermarket. The next night we had the T.J. Zinfandel with, you guessed it, leftover rotisserie chicken. The Zins are both on the big side and we experienced the same scenario with the wines on both evenings. After drinking the wines for a while, the wines were not so enjoyable. Soon enough the wine dominates and everything on your dinner plate becomes secondary. Perhaps it’s the style of Zinfandel that comes from Paso or perhaps just a coincidence that these two wines were out of balance for us in terms of intensity. There are many wine drinkers who love this style of Zinfandel, big and extracted fruit. If you like that style of Zinfandel, you will more than likely find both of these wines to be very good.

Any comments on Zinfandel wines from Paso Robles or Zinfandel wines in general?


  1. Hi Joe! I already reached out and said hello via Twitter, but thought I might comment here as well.

    First of all, thanks for giving our Westside Zin a taste! It’s one of our fan favorites and is, as you say, a bigger, bolder “classic Paso Robles” style of Zinfandel. However, not all Zins are made alike, and we actually make nine (yes, NINE) different Paso Robles Zins.

    One of the things that makes Zinfandel so fun to work with is that it is truly a terroir grape; it reflects where it’s from arguably more than the ‘average’ fruit. At our winery we make our Incredible Red and Westside Zins — which we consider our flagship, entry level Zins — and then we have a series of small lot, premium, and vineyard designate Zinfandel wines as well. These we normally produce less than 400 cases of each per year. They’re great fun to taste in a lineup because you can really get a sense of the different vineyards and styles.

    All this to say that Zinfandel has an incredible range, and while comparing two Paso Zins is great — again, we’re so happy to have been included! — it’s really just the tip of the Zin iceberg.

    • Thank you for a very thorough report on the various styles of Zinfandel made by Peachy Canyon and other in the Paso Robles wine region.

Speak Your Mind