I tasted a wine recently, the 2007 Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel, which did a lot to remind me of why I have always loved good Zinfandel. More on that later though. For those of you who know me in real life and have tasted with me before, you know I have a bit of an Old World bias. Just ask Bill and Keith, aka Cuvee_Corner and BrainWines respectively. Then again their palates often match mine so I think we're all wine-geniuses. I dare you to disagree!
If you've only ever had the Ravenswood Vintner's Blend Zinfandel, I strongly urge you to buy other wines that Joel Peterson makes for Ravenswood. I can't force you, loyal readers, but trust me on this, Ravenswood makes some great wine. I hope you'll heed my words.
First, some background. In 2007, Ravenswood chose to produce the following blend: 76% Zinfandel, 8% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 8% Mixed Blacks. This blend can and does vary from year to year. For 18 months the 2007 Old Vine Zin rested in French Oak barrels, of which 30% were new oak. Coming in at 14.5% abv, this is what I would describe as a "normal" alcohol level for a modern day Zinfandel.
Opened and left on the counter for about an hour, I practiced the art of clock-watching while waiting to taste the wine. Often I'll try to cook a meal, read, watch TV, aimlessly browse the internet or Tweet with my friends while I wait for a wine to open up, briefly glancing at the glass as if willing the oxidative effects to happen faster.
Enough about me though, let's explore the Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel. Right away I was struck by the low amount of fruit on the nose. Big spices, hints of earth, toasted oak and vanilla all dominated. Around the fringes of those scents were blackberries and plums dancing around, barely discernible at times. I loved the deep purple color in the glass and was impressed with it's depth.
Of late, I've grown tired of jammy, over-extracted Zinfandels. I prefer those with spices, tannins, acidity and finally, dark fruit notes. In an upcoming blog I'll go over some wines from Paul Dolan that I tasted recently, with his Zinfandel being a highlight for me. I loved the grippy tannins and acidity that the Ravenswood had, it set the stage for the ripe berries and spices that carried through to the finish. Although I did expect more fruit, I was pleased that it wasn't a fruit bomb.
I really liked the 2007 Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel, the flavor profile was unexpected but pleasing. If I had a few more bottles, I'd age them for a few years to see what developed. Ideally, some of the acidity would back off, the tannins would soften and the fruit would remain at it's current level of intensity. We're talking some delicious juice if all of those elements came into play!
For anywhere between $10-$15, you get a wonderful bottle of wine and a great example of what Zinfandel can be in California.I give this a B rating (86 points) and a BUY recommendation. Pair it with something big, hearty, beefy even! I want to have a bowl of beef chili and a bottle of this Zin one night. Preferably when it's not 88 degrees outside like it is right now.
This wine was provided as a sample for review by myself.