Wine Review of Cardinal Zin 2008



100% Zinfandel



You might have seen the Cardinal Zin before with a different label. Cardinal Zin used to be a Bonny Doon project, but was acquired by Underdog Wine Merchants back in 2006.


In their own words; “Underdog Wine Merchants is the champion of the more interesting, albeit sometimes misunderstood or under-appreciated wines and wine styles. In a word…the “underdogs” of the wine world.” Underdog isn’t just a wine importer, they also partner-up with winemakers from all over the globe, crafting wines from Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, as well as the west coast of the U.S


The original Cardinal Zin label was banned in Ohio in 2001 due to Ohio’s law on wine labeling. This forbids “advertisement or representation portraying pictures of children or religious subjects.” Due to the label depicting a Cardinal, it was pulled.

Zinfandel is the #2 most widely planted red grape in California (right behind Cabernet). It’s considered California’s grape, even though it originated in Croatia.

Zinfandel has a relatively high sugar content, and therefore is the main reason it is used in the production of White Zinfandel. When it comes to sugar-content in grapes, wine makers have the option to make either a sweeter wine, or just use all that sugar in the fermentation process to produce a wine of a higher alcohol content. For this reason, Zinfandel normally has a higher alcohol than other red Californian wines.



California Wine Map

Grapes for the Cardinal Zin are sourced from old vines (or in the words of Underdog Wine Merchants) “Beastly Old Vines” all over California, some of which are up to 100 years old!

Here are a few California wine facts for you:

According to, winegrapes are grown in 46 of California’s 58 counties, covering 522,000 acres in 2005.

California produces approximately 90% of all wine made in the United States and two-thirds of all wine sold in the country.

California is the No. 4 wine producer in the world, after the countries of France, Italy and Spain.

Wineries and vineyards are the second most popular tourist destination in California after Disneyland!

In 2009, there were 2,843 bonded wineries and 4,600 wine grape growers in California.

The number of commercial wineries in the U.S. has tripled in the last 20 years.



A lot of mixed red fruit on the nose, with a some vanilla laden oak. Shows more in the way of black fruit on the palate, with hints of tea, cranberry, oak , and there’s a some pepper and spice in there as well. A decent amount of acidity balances out the alcohol (14.5%). Medium in body, finishes dry, ready to drink now.



Red sauce pastas, burgers on the grill, stews, ribs, steak…Zinfandel will find a place with all big foods. Quite possibly the best Zinfandel food pairing is known to man is with barbecue!
Stay away from lighter and delicate foods, a Zin like the Cardinal will overpower completely!



$20 available from UnderdogWineMerchants

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