Can’t Afford an $80 Zin? Try This one for less than $15

Sobon Estate in Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley

Zinfandel Showdown

The Vintage Wine Tasters did a tasting of six Zinfandel wines. Vintage Wine Taster Bruce was the host and treated us to a scrumptious wine tasting and luncheon. The wines were all in brown bags, and our results were surprising. Bruce mixed the Zins with three expensive wines and three wines under $20. Here is what we found.

We blind tasted these six wines

The top score was the 2017 A. Rafanelli Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. If you are not familiar with A. Rafanelli, it is a fourth-generation family winery. Their motto is “Quality wines, not quantity.” One must be on their A. List to have an opportunity to purchase their wines. A. Rafanelli wines are not in any wine shops. Bruce kindly shared this $80 Zinfandel with us. The A. Rafanelli scored very high; but, hold on, not too far back scoring second is a delicious Zin at the price of $14.95. It is the 2018 Sobon Rocky Top Zinfandel

2018 Sobon Estate “Rocky Top” Amador County Zinfandel

We had two wines in the second spot. Besides the 2018 Sobon Rocky Top Zinfandel, we chose the 2018 Turley Zinfandel from the Dusi Vineyard in Paso Robles ($59.99). Turley Wine Cellars specializes in Zinfandel-producing wines from several high-end vineyards in California. For the Rocky Top to be mentioned with Turley speaks volumes about this value wine.

Over our eleven-year history of blind tastings, we have frequently scored the Rocky Top as one of the top Zinfandel wines. Why does the Rocky Top rate so well, vintage after vintage? I believe it is, as winemakers say, “Good wine starts in the vineyards.” The Rocky Top Zinfandel comes from a pre-prohibition ridge-top vineyard on the Estate that is dry farmed and sustainably managed. The Sobon Family Estate is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Amador County. The climate and elevation are perfect for Zinfandel grapes. Add the winemaking of Paul Sobon, and we have a winning combination. Paul has 40 years of experience making wine and is one of the great winemakers in California.

Sierra Foothills
The sustainable vineyards of Sobon Estate

You can buy the Rocky Top Zinfandel at KL Wines for $14.95, Total Wine for $19.99, and Mollie Stone’s for $14.39 (price for 6, mix-or-match). The price at the winery is $18. Total Wines touts this wine as one of their Winery Direct Wines, which means excellent prices and offers. Yet, the price for the Rocky Top is the highest among the wine shops. When is a deal not a deal?

Tasting Notes 2018 Sobon Rocky Top Zinfandel

When tasting the Rocky Top Zin, you will find nuances of many flavors, including white pepper, cedar, and herbal notes. There is 5% Petite Sirah in the wine, yielding a darker color and boldness. The Wine Enthusiast rates it at 92 Points. We go with 90 Points. I love this wine with anything that has basil pesto. Try this pizza with the Rocky Top.

2019 is at Mollie Stone’s for the six-pack price of $14.39

Additional Zinfandel Wine Resources


  1. Mike Beltran says

    A top flight tasting of high quality Zinfandel. The top three were worthy of their ranking. Also tasted a Saxum Zinfandel $$ that was an extra post tasting wine and it was superb. Fun and informative tasting.🍷🍷

Speak Your Mind