Wine Buzz: Easton zinfandel from Amador lands on Wine Spectator’s ‘100 Outstanding Values’

Last week’s Wine Buzz offered a rundown of Black Friday events in Amador County, including a tasting of the Easton 2011 Zinfandel Amador County at Terre Rouge/Easton (10801 Dickson Road, Plymouth).

That particular bottle of zinfandel would now make an especially choice gift for the wine lover on your holiday shopping list.

Wine Spectator magazine included the $18 bottle of Easton 2011 Zinfandel Amador County in its year-end list of “100 Outstanding Values.” Only two wines in California made this list, with the other being Enotria 2009 Dolcetto Mendocino ($18).

This marks the second straight year an Easton Zinfandel Amador County wine has scored a spot on Wine Spectator’s “100 Outstanding Values.” The 2012 version also included a trio of $10 wines from Bogle (merlot, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc).

Bill Easton bottles four to five zinfandels annually, including a Shenandoah Valley Estate and Fiddletown Eschen-Rinaldi, in which the grapes are sourced from vines that date back to 1865. Easton’s Zinfandel Amador County ranks as the winery’s largest production run, with just under 10,000 cases for the 2011 vintage.

Easton also produces some of the foothills’ best Rhone-style wines under his Terre Rouge label.

The Shenandoah Valley Estate zinfandel has received accolades on its own. A bottle from the 2010 vintage was among three wines on the cover of Wine Enthusiast’s September issue, with the headline, “California zinfandel makes a comeback.”

No matter which brand of zinfandel he’s bottling, Easton aims for a more moderate and food-friendly expression of a grape that’s too often connoted with high-alcohol cocktail- style wines. The 2011 Zinfandel Amador County is noted for its blackberry and dark fruit flavors, smooth tannins and spicy overtones.

“Zinfandel’s become really weird in the last 15 years, but the pendulum’s swinging back to our style,” Easton said. “It’s a more classic style without excessive alcohol, no residual sugar and the oak doesn’t clobber you over the head.”

If you want to score some of that zin, tasting-room hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Mondays.

For more information: (209) 245-4277,