2009 Hillgate Zinfandel

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2009 Hillgate ZinfandelPer the bottle “Just beyond these gates are the majestic hillside vineyards that reach into untouched and untamed wilderness of a region known for its beauty and clear air, where the wines have become notable for their fruit forward syle and awards are more and more abundant. Welcome to Hillgate, Gate to the Hills Lake County, California.” <- Wow that is helpful, isn't it!

What I Think:

My friends at the TTB tell me this label is tied to the Laird Family Estate in Napa. As my initial search turned up no connection between the estate and Lake County the origins of this one will remain a mystery. I’ve reached out to the winery to see if they would be willing to share any information and will certainly let you know if I hear back. But for now onto the main event…

(14.9%) To cut to the chase the most impressive Trader Joe’s wine find I’ve had in some time. Big nose of dark, peppery fruit. Smooth, rich and bold on the palate. Certainly fruit forward but without turning jammy (as many at this price point do). Soft tannins with a nice vanilla (barrel driven) creaminess on a pleasant, lasting peppery finish. A perfect match for summer barbeque. I plan on grabbing at least six more. Give it a try and let me know what you think…

Rating: Buy It

And while you’re out and about you might want to grab the Rousanne under the same label to see if it hits the mark. Mine is chilling in the refrigerator now…

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23 thoughts on “2009 Hillgate Zinfandel

  1. The info sheet available to each store mentioned something about a connection to Shannon Ridge. This was some good wine, one of the better hustle buys to come through in a while.

    • Thanks for the tip Beau! I did see that Shannon Ridge has trademarked Hillgate. Now if I could just find the connection between Shannon Ridge and Laird Family Estate…

  2. By far one of good wines we have had in awhile. I still like the Houge Meritage for $7.99 or the Beringer Alluvium Red for $9.99.

  3. I just bought 2 bottles, popped one and for $6.99, it’s a great deal. Wines this good often cost $12-15. I’m thinking about going back and getting a case.

  4. One more thing – an interesting tidbit of info I sleuthed via Google just now. I found a Napa valley winemaker online, Andy Pestoni with a 2009 vintage Zin from Nova Vineyard in Kelseyville, which is in Lake County. Not too many other Zins popped up for ’09 with grapes harvested in Lake County, made by a Napa winemaker…

    Could “Hillgate” be Nova Vineyard? :http://store.winetrain.com/products/jelly-jar-zinfandel-nova-vineyard-lake-county-2008

  5. A good zin under $10 is so hard to find, I found an amply stocked, special display of the 09 Hillgate zin at my Trader Joe’s last week and, with guarded expectations of a potentially good thing, grabbed a bottle. Unfortunately, all I could taste from this one was a one note wonder of cocoa powder. No fruit.No depth. Just cocoa powder. Tried this one 3 times over the course of several days and it just didn’t seem to improve. Oh well. Regretably, I ended up tossing 2/3 of this bottle’s contents down the drain.

  6. Just cocoa? Hmm…oh well. I’m grabbin a case tomorrow and telling my friends to do the same.

    As an alternative for under $10, the Cline ’09 Zin at TJ’s, for $7.99 is great. At least imho it is.

  7. @JB I’ve enjoyed both of those as well. Was surprised to see the Hogue again the other day.

    @Alejandro Looks like this is from the same ilk as the Shannon Ridge Zin. Glad you liked it!

    @Thomas The Rousanne was interesting. Made me think that this is similar to how the Honeymoon relates to Viognier.

    @Danny Never said it was Ridge;) Had any favorites under $10 recently?

    @Karina The vanilla wasn’t very sweet but was of the barrel driven variety. As far as was it subtle? It was there…

    • Jason, In reply to your question, I’m almost embarrassed to say my family has recently really been enjoying the 1.5 L Foxhorn Vineyards Chardonnay and also the 1.5 L Merlot (both Non-Vintage) @ 5.99 each. Sourced from the small town of Griffith in New South Wales in South Eastern Australia with grapes tended by winemaker Steve Roden..Imported by Foxhorn Vineyards, Ripon, CA. And available in most Calif grocery stores PS: Skip the Foxhorn Cabernet Sauvignon which they also make; it is horrible….FYI, in a blind test, my wife preferred the Foxhorn merlot over a Wine Advocate rated 91 Artazuri 2009 Garnacha Navarra from Spain. The garnacha was priced at $8.99.

      • @Danny Interesting! I’ll be sure to track down the Merlot and perhaps the Chard for my Mrs. Just looked up Griffith on the map; must be smoking hot that far inland…

  8. Thanks for letting me know. I’m not much of a fan for wines that are too sweet. May I ask what is meant by the barrel driven variety? Thanks!

    • @Karina There are some typical flavors/attributes imparted by oak, either as a barrel or wood chips, I find it to be vanilla, creamy and just a hint sweet. That said as it goes deeper. For example American oak is usually more intense (imparts more flavor) than French oak and the older the oak the less the flavors are imparted…

  9. Thanks for the detailed explanation! It’s interesting to know that there’s such a significant difference.. Can you tell it’s barrel driven due to the taste? I’m just wondering how I can tell with the wines that I am drinking and currently want to purchase. Thanks again!

  10. Howdy folks!
    If you’re fan of this wine, better stock up because what’s on the shelf is all there is left.

  11. Just got a new wine in called Green Barn. We carry it in a red blend and a Chardonnay. I tried the red and I have to say that it’s a nice well balanced blend. We haven’t had a good wine like this since the Hillgate Zin came out. Both Green Barns are $6.99. Also if you can find it (I didn’t get it at my store), the Bearboat Syrah for $3.99 scored 91 points. I have a tone of people ask for it. If you see it I would pick some up.

  12. The 2010 Hillgate is now available at TJ’s (at least it is in San Rafael). Sadly, I don’t have any ’09 left over to compare it with. But I did have it last night with some pasta and homemade puttanesca, it was a good combo. For $6.99/bottle, I’d go back and buy some more, for sure.

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