One of my goals during The 12 Days of Zin is to cover a wide array of wines. The diversity I've aimed for is not only stylistic though. Some of the Zinfandels are small productions from boutique producers, others are large scale releases available at almost every wine shop in the US. Today I'm looking at a couple of offerings from Ravenswood Winery. Joel Peterson, founder and winemaker of this winery is as synonymous with America's heritage grape as any producer. The range of Zins Ravenswood makes each year runs the gamut from small production, single vineyard offerings to wines that everyone can easily find. The selections I'm looking at today are amongst their most widely available and recognizable by the everyday consumer looking for something to drink with his burger or fajita that very night. First up is the Ravenswood 2006 Vintners Blend. This wine has a California appellation and the majority of the grapes were sourced in Sonoma, Lodi and Mendocino. All three are regions where Zinfandel has thrived over the years. This wine is widely available for right around $10.
The 2006 Vintners Blend opens with a nose of black raspberry and plum, underscored by light bramble and eucalyptus notes. Berry jam notes are prominent from the first sip onward. This is a medium bodied Zinfandel with a soft but full mouth-feel. Black tea notes dominate the mid-palate and carry through the finish which features light mocha and a host of spice characteristics. The finish is medium in length. This wine has been remarkably consistent over the years and the 2006 is no exception. It's particularly impressive for an offering made in such large quantities. Priced to be a good go to Zinfandel any night of the week.
The other Ravenswood I'm looking at is the 2005 Sonoma County Zinfandel. 13% Carignane, 6% Syrah and 5% Petite Sirah were blended in with the Zinfandel (76%). All the grapes were sourced from Sonoma County and aged in French oak, 30% of it new. 10,000 cases of this wine were produced. The suggested retail price for this one is $14.99, but it's generally available for a few dollars less.
The Sonoma County Zin opens with plum vanilla and a touch of earth in the nose. I found this selection the be a bit in need of air at first. Decanting for 45 minutes is recommended. Once it opens up this wine expresses itself with a lovely palate full of spice and fruit flavor. Most of that fruit is of the dark, brooding variety. These characteristics carry through the mid-palate and lead to a finish that features mocha and white pepper notes in abundance. This wine is well balanced and has good acidity. The other varietals blended in add structure and layers of complexity to this wine. While it's drinking well now it's likely to improve in the short term and drink well for 5 or more years. This is another solid everyday value.
Both of these wines from Ravenswood accomplish what they set out to. That is, provide good entry level Zinfandels at a price that most can approach on a regular basis. They offer good varietal character and remain consistent year in and year out.
Up Next: The 12 Days of Zin Continues!
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