Ravenswood - 3 Sonoma County Wines

county_pic1Intent is something that I always consider when tasting wine. What was the producer looking to do when they created the offerings in question? All wines are certainly not created equally and they should be looked at through the lens of their purpose. With that said today I'm looking at three releases from Ravensood in Sonoma. They're best known for Zinfandel of course. The bevy of selections they offer in that category ranges from single vineyard offerings to selections made from fruit sourced state wide. The selections I'm covering today are part of their County series. First up is the 2006 Sonoma County Chardonnay. This wine is 97% Chardonnay and 3% Muscat. It was aged for 12 months in French oak, 40% of it was new. 25,000 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $15.

The nose of this Chardonnay is quite expressive, showing pineapple, vanilla, hazelnut and hints of spice.The palate is loaded with apple and pear notes along with an underlying touch of citrus peel. The finish features apple pie crust notes, lots of nutmeg, clove, allspice and a touch of creamy butter and toast. This is a clean, crisp wine with good acidity and nice balance. It shows fine varietal character and is well proportioned.

The 2006 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon is 95% varietal, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot. This offering spent 22 months in French oak, 30% of it new. 14,000 cases of this Cabernet were produced and the suggested retail price is $15.

A touch of eucalyptus and cassis underscore a nose filled with rich berry fruit aromas. The palate is filled with a solid core of many of those same berry fruit elements. Black and red cherry notes dominate and are accompanied by vanilla spice notes. Copious black tea, earth, bramble, allspice, and star anise emerge and star in the finish which is more than lengthy enough for the price range of this wine. This wine has firm but approachable tannins and good acidity.

The last wine today is the 2005 Sonoma County Syrah. This wine is 87% Syrah, 5% Grenache, 5% Carignane, and 3% Viognier. The wine spent between 20 and 24 months in French oak, 30% of it new. 11,000 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $15.

Plum and boysenberry notes dominate the nose of this Syrah along with lighter but present cedar and vanilla notes. Berry fruit is accompanied by black tea, white pepper  and dusty baker's chocolate throughout the palate. Bramble, continued berry fruit along with earth and spice notes make up a lingering finish. This wine has more in common style-wise with the of world Syrah than most new world Syrah.

What I like about these three wines from Ravenswood is that they each provide good varietal character as well as balance and proportion. They're well made wines that sell for a reasonable price. While the suggested retail price for each of these is $15, they are often available for closer to $11. For that price these are fine for everyday drinking. The Cabernet Sauvignon seems to have the legs for some aging. It should improve in the short term and drink well for at least 5 or 6 years after that. A pretty good achievement for an everyday, widely available wine.

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