2018 Ravenswood, Old Vine Zinfandel, Vintners Blend, California.
Sometimes you are caught in a wine desert and you only can grab a bottle at the supermarket, and that can make for some difficult choices, but there are some bottles that can be enjoyed and while not a serious wine, this Ravenswood doesn’t disappoint for the price and went nicely with pizza and lots of laughter. The Vinters Blend series are the basic bottlings at Ravenswood and been around now for over 40 years, the Zin was one of the first wines I bought regularly back in the mid to late 80s and as I was on a tight budget it was fabulous value and an authentic wine, crafted by the now legendary Joel Peterson, and even though this wine is not as charming or stylishly rustic, and made in the 100,000 case batches these days it still tastes like Zinfandel, though with a slightly sweeter profile. I enjoyed it best with the food as the Vinters Blend Old Vine Zin, which comes mainly from vines in California’s Central Valley, delivers simple and pleasing layers of black raspberry, plum, huckleberry and kirsch as well as some light wood and floral notes, plus touches briar spices, mocha and dried herbs. Put it this way, the Ravenswood Vinters Blend Zin is not going to be on my must have list, but it certainly tastes more like wine that 90% of the supermarket choices in the domestic section, not great mind you, but drinkable and beggars can’t be choosy.

While Ravenswood now, doesn’t resemble the winery in its heyday, this wine took me down memory lane and I remember some great times drinking Joel Peterson’s outstanding and age worthy efforts, which included Zinfandels from some of the most historic vineyards in the state, mostly from the Sonoma Valley and vineyards that now go into Joel’s son, Morgan Twain-Peterson MW’s Bedrock wines and some other of our new generation of winemakers and top Zin producers. The Ravenswood stuff now is pretty much done in big tanks and what I call made to be factory beverages which see them made with a formula, rather than in Peterson’s famous ancient redwood fermenter(s), which Joel was able to re-claim in recent years and what he makes his Once & Future label wines in again. Before there was the likes of Turley, Biale, Bucklin and Mike Officer’s Carlisle, there was Ridge, who are still making some of the greatest wines in California, and Ravenswood, taking Zinfandel seriously, not making blush or white Zins, with Peterson promoting his wines with the catch phase, No Wimpy Wines. Back in my own early days of drinking wines, I was not wealthy enough to chase down quality Burgundy or Bordeaux, so I had to settle for cheap Chianti and wines from Chile, and so it was in that place and time I discovered Ravenswood and Zinfandel, a grape that I still very much enjoy.
($9 Est.) 85 Points, grapelive

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