carol_sheltonIf you aren’t already familiar with Carol Shelton and her library of delicious Zinfandels then it is time we formally introduce you. An expert winemaker and former poet from California’s Mendocino County, Shelton’s single-vineyard, old vine Zins have won her countless medals throughout her career.  Carol has been labeled “Winemaker of the Year” on numerous occasions and is widely cited as one of the most awarded female winemakers in the United States. Over the course of time she has built an impressive resume by spending countless hours at Australia’s Saltram Winery, Napa Valley’s Robert Mondavi Winery and historic Windsor Vineyards. After years of feeling the pressures of working in male-dominated cellars, Carol came to her entrepreneurial senses and gave birth to the Carol Shelton Wine label. With the help of husband Mitch Mackenzie, her dreams of bottling cleverly named, exceptional wines came true.

Shelton’s rich and creamy “Wild Thing” Zinfandel continues to be a clear standout at a modest $20 pricepoint.  Harvested from Cox Vineyard, a deeply rooted Mendocino plot dating back to the 1950s, these old-vine grapes are fermented with naturally occurring wild yeasts, ergo the name “Wild Thing”. Rocky soils and a rigorous irrigation regime help these vines produce impressively mature wine despite the young age. The “Zen-like Zins”  of Carol Shelton’s wine portfolio prove that the renaissance of passionate Zinfandel winemaking in California is alive and well.

Garnet in color and rich in complexity, this wine is loaded with major layers of cherry pie, grilled plums and blackberry jam. Barreled in American and French oak for over two years, this “wild” zin has multiple ribbons of pure satin. With an overall finesse comparable to a premium fine wine, it is pleasant on your palate without the hefty price tag. Beautifully balanced with notes of vanilla clove, spiced butter and licorice, enjoy a Wild Thing while grilling at a backyard barbecue or yachting across the San Franciscan bay.
wild-thing-zinWith over 30 years of winemaking experience, Shelton has successfully paved a path for herself in the Zinfandel community.  Not only has she mastered the art of blending, she has taken the science of winemaking to new levels and for this, all Zin lovers are grateful. Recognized and highly rated by Wine Spectator, there is much to be said about this warehouse winery based out of Sonoma County. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover because within the contents of this screwcap bottle is an old vine Zinfandel that will most likely be one of the best valued Zins you have ever tried. –R.H

Carol Shelton Wild Thing Old Vine Zinfandel  2009


Related scores – WS: 90

Market price: $20 USD

Blend: 78% Zinfandel, 12% Carignane, 7% Petit Syrah, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon

Decanting time: 10-30 min

Glassware: Riedel Vinum Series Zinfandel Glasses

Food pairing: Mustard’s Grill Smoky and Succulent Barbecued Baby Back Ribs


“In this wild, wild world we live in, go ahead and reward yourself.
Take one sip, listen to your heart sing;
Dance to the beat of Zinfandel;
Which is, quite frankly, everything.”– R.H