A wine as spirited as its maker

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Pride of Cucamonga: The The 2008 Monga Zinfandel is 100 percent Zinfandel grown on a scattered parcel in the Cucamonga Valley, east of Los Angeles. | Photo by Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

Carol Shelton exudes a spirited, energetic and fun-loving personality that is translated into the style of Zinfandel that she creates. After completing her oenology studies at UC Davis in California, she honed her skills at Robert Mondavi Winery and later worked with famed winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff.

In 1981 she began a 19-year tenure as winemaker at Sonoma Vineyards before advancing to the Windsor Vineyards brand, where she managed nearly 45 different wines under their label. While working with different grape varietals throughout Sonoma, she developed a comfort level and passion for Zinfandel. In 2000 she left to establish the Carol Shelton brand with husband Mitch Mackenzie.

Her focus is on sourcing Zinfandel from select vineyard sites including regions in Russian River Valley, Dry Creek and Mendocino. She emphasizes Zins unique flavor and sense of place from each site using the right yeast and seasoned with the best barrel to compliment each wine. Her eye-catching and artistic labels are easily recognized and designated with unusual names such as Monga, Wild Thing, Maple and Rocky Reserve Zinfandel.

Carol Shelton has been acknowledged as Winemaker of the Year on several occasions and is credited as the most awarded winemaker in the United States.

The 2008 Monga Zinfandel is 100 percent Zinfandel from a scattered parcel next to Highway 210 and 15, east of Los Angeles in Cucamonga Valley. It is dry farmed and therefore not irrigated, planted in 1918. This nearly-a-decade-old-vine Zinfandel is aged in American and French Oak and displays a dark ruby color capturing your attention with aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom. There are rich wild berry overtones with savory spice intermingled with some red licorice and milk chocolate. As in all of Carol’s wines, there is an accent of bright acidity and finesse that makes these Zinfandels fun to drink and never tiring, sort of like Carol.

Suggested Retail: $21.99

W. Peter Hoyne has been a wine journalist for over 20 years, covering stories of national and international significance. While his professional relationships in the wine industry have allowed him to share a unique perspective of wine, he is also intrigued by the culinary aspect and harmony that exist between wine and food. As a wine advocate, he is committed to consumer education and is focused on upcoming trends and American wine-buying habits.