California Wine

A Gnarly Halloween Wine Recommendation

What could be scarier than a twisted old vine from Lodi?

2012 Gnarly Head Zinfandel (Old Vine Zin), Lodi

wine reviews
VERDICT: "Go for it"
Zinfandel (Old Vine Zin), 14% alc.
Gnarly Head Wine Review, Lodi

Happy Halloween from your friends at Stark Insider.

Twisted old vines. That’s immediately what comes to mind anytime I see a mention of that under appreciated AVA (1986) east of San Francisco called Lodi.

It seems only fitting that this year’s Halloween recommendation is a bit gnarly. I also like that this one is under $15 which is the sweet spot these days for many consumers. We can’t all be drinking Harlan, Etude and Scarecrow all the time. Wine is a pleasure, yes, but the 401K does come in handy for things like, oh I don’t know… retirement perhaps?

According to the producer (DFV) this one is made from 35-80 year old (quite a range) head trained vines. As is the case with old vines, expect intense, concentrated flavor. A lot of it. As always, such a bold wine would make a great pairing with some BBQ. Maybe candy corn? Not sure about that one.

Flavor profile is virtually a Lodi lock: crazy levels of blackberry, and black jams of all kinds. Spicy. A hint of cocoa on the finish. In other words a party crashing worthy Halloween wine.

Recommended: Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel Wine

You might want to do what I did, and run this 2012 through a Vinturi. I don’t normally believe in voodoo, but surprisingly, especially on lower cost, young wines, I’ve had moderate success aerating wines with the handy little gadget (I tried it once on a then two-buck Chuck to no avail). Decanting is another option – but the heck does that with Zin anyways?!

We also received their ’12 Chardonnay. Between the two, though, I’d easily go for the Zin every time.

For $11.99 don’t expect miracles. But do expect value. Especially given this is an old vine Zin. Though Zinfandel is a bit of a bargain grape, it’s not uncommon to pay 4-6x the price for this kind of bottling.

With 180,000 cases produced probably safe to say, just like the sure to be ubiquitous Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus costumes, you shouldn’t have any trouble spotting it on store shelves.

Long live the New World! Long live the New Flesh!

2012 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel

Under $15 Value Pick


88% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah

14% alc.

180,000 cases produced

$11.99 / 88 points

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Clinton Stark
Clint is based in San Francisco and has produced videos for Stark Insider since 2006. Film projects recently completed include short MORADO shot in the Baja, doc THE ART OF HALL WINES in Napa, and music video WRONG'S WHAT I DO BEST at the San Francisco Art Institute. He regularly writes about Canon DSLR and filmmaking. His Broadway features have garnered praise, including SHREK UNMASKED which is the most viewed BTS video for the musical on YouTube. In addition he's worked with DreamWorks, Disney on Ice, and Cirque du Soleil, among others. Interview highlights include James Franco, Gia Coppola, Colbie Caillat, Vincent Kartheiser, Dana Carvey, and Dany Boyle. Clint is a member of ATCA and covers the SF theater scene. He also writes about Napa and wine, and Silicon Valley news and trends. More: Clint's story...