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Award-winning Zinfandel & Primitivo: 20 to try

To celebrate National Zinfandel Day, we highlight a selection of top-scoring Zinfandel and Primitivo wines from the Decanter World Wine Awards to discover...

From rich and robust Californian Zinfandel to cherry-scented, spicy Puglian Primitivo, results from the Decanter World Wine Awards 2021 highlight the wide range of styles produced from this often underrated grape variety.

Believed to be the same grape variety, Zinfandel is closely associated and a near-native grape variety of California, and Primitivo with Puglia, but award-winning examples from the 2021 competition can also be found from winegrowing regions in Australia and Croatia to Turkey and Bulgaria.


Scroll down to see tasting notes for the top-scoring Zinfandel & Primitivo wines from DWWA 2021


Though elegant, fruity and powerful styles exist, quality-focused examples of Zinfandel and Primitivo tend to include brambly red and black berry flavours alongside spice, sometimes with vanilla or chocolatey notes from oak.

‘Sweet, warm, perfumed, and enticing… with gentle cinnamon, vanilla, and clove oak spice with refreshing acidity’ is how the expert DWWA judges described Platinum medal winner Ken & Derek’s Crowdpleazin Zinfandel 2019 from Dry Creek Valley – the highest scoring Zinfandel or Primitivo wine at DWWA 2021.

Ken & Derek, Crowdpleazin Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2019

Ken & Derek, Crowdpleazin Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2019 (Platinum, 97 points)

To celebrate National Zinfandel Day this 17 November, we highlight 20 medal winners below, all 90+ points and worth a try.

What will you be toasting with? Share with us on social @Decanter and @DecanterAwards

Award-winning Zinfandel & Primitivo: 20 to try

Zinfandel

California, USA

Ken & Derek, Crowdpleazin Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2019

Platinum, 97 points
Sweet, warm, perfumed, and enticing: very attractive. Dimpled plum scents. A lovely perfumed plum and violet palate with gentle cinnamon, vanilla, and clove oak spice with refreshing acidity. A super wine.

Gallo, Signature Series Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2018

Silver, 92 points
Lots of raisins, blueberry and dried plum with a big overlay of sweet oak. A very rich wine with a savoury-mentholly finish.

Michael and Anne Dashe, M.A.D. Dashe Reserve Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2018

Silver, 92 points
Graceful fig, plum, and bramble. Supple fruits supported by a little catch of baseline tannin and some pungent fresh acidity.

Frei Brothers, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2018

Silver, 90 points
A very oaky, intensely ripe, dark black-fruited wine with Pu-erh tea and leathery, savoury oak complexities. A chocolatey sweet finish.

Wente Vineyards, Beyer Ranch Zinfandel 2018

Silver, 90 points
Soft, plush, smooth, and open: a big highway of gentle blackberry. Some evident oak, leafiness, and baking spice on the finish.

Australia

Cape Mentelle, Zinfandel, Margaret River, Western Australia 2018

Silver, 94 points
Toasty, cherry, plum and herbal nose. On the palate it’s very rich and dense with black fruits, some creaminess and a grainy texture. Long fresh finish.

Croatia

Maslina I Vino, Crljenak, Primorska Hrvatska, Coastal 2018

Silver, 91 points
Zippy blackberry and sweet cherry nose with some raisin and plums. Sweet spices and lip-smacking acidity. Delicate oak and a rustic touch.

Primitivo

Puglia, Italy

Tinazzi, Feudo Croce Imperio LXXIV, Primitivo di Manduria 2019

Gold, 95 points
Lovely nose of bramble, raspberry coulis, blackberry and subtle chocolate notes. Velvety texture on the palate, rich and concentrated yet elegant. Classic style with a long finish.

Conti Zecca, Rifugio, Primitivo Salento 2018

Silver, 92 points
Concentrated dark berried fruit, red blossom and leather. Structured, rich and smooth with integrated sweet spiced oak. Fresh herbaceous finish.

Cantine San Giorgio, Diodoro, Primitivo di Manduria 2019

Silver, 91 points
Bold plush red fruits with a floral note. Fresh with clean, well defined fruit. Lovely velvet texture with uplifting acidity.

Tenute Chiaromonte, Contrada Scappagrano 2018

Silver, 91 points
Bold plum, cassis and chocolate aromas. Well judged oak with ripe tannins. Some obvious sweetness, in character with the style.

Coppi, Senatore, Gioia del Colle 2017

Silver, 90 points
Ripe red fruit aromas. Full bodied with excellent concentration and age worthy acidity. Juicy wine with a long, leafy finish.

Il Papavero 2020

Silver, 90 points
Olive, chocolate and plum aromas. Nice sweetness and a good degree of ripeness. Elegant and polished, with structure and length.

Morrisons, The Best 2020

Silver, 90 points
Jammy black fruit, dark spice, coffee and chocolate aromas. Smooth tannins and nice length with a fresh, spicy finish.

Paololeo, Passo del Cardinale, Primitivo di Manduria 2019

Silver, 90 points
Sweet strawberry nose with violets and roses. Plum richness and velvet texture. Firm, sweet tannins with a long peppery finish.

San Marzano, Talò, Primitivo di Manduria 2019

Silver, 90 points
Fresh herbal and cherry nose. Supple and juicy plum fruit on the palate, with balanced sweetness and subtle oak. Thoroughly drinkable.

Schenk Italia, Uone, Primitivo di Manduria 2020

Silver, 90 points
Deep rich nose, showing mature prunes, nuts and roasted meat. Fresh and youthful, with supple juicy tannins and sweet oak.

Terre di Sava, Pazzia, Primitivo di Manduria 2019

Silver, 90 points
Lifted nose with a touch of confection and earthy minerality. Pleasantly juicy, drinkable style. Full bodied yet fresh and approachable.


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