Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ravenswood Zin Pair and Phelps Napa Cab

Ravenswood Zin Pair and Phelps Napa Cab

I believe every wine cellar needs a selection of Zinfandels for pairing with hearty cheeses, tangy pasta sauses and bar-b-que. Ravenswood with their motto "No Wimpy Wines', is a staple for every cellar, especially more modest cellars, given their range of selection and offering of high QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wines. Joel Peterson of Ravenswood, the 'Godfather of Zin' is arguably the world's leading Zin producer.

Tonight we comparison tasted two Ravenswood Zinfandels, a 'County' selection from Napa Valley and a Single Vineyard designated selection from Sonoma County Tedelschi Vineyard. After this experience, I will expand that recommendation to also include some single vineyard designated Zins in addition to basic or standard label offerings. Of course other Zinfandel producers noted for single vineyard designated selections with such quality and breadth and depth of Zinfandel selections are Ridge Vineyards and, no discussion of Zinfandel collections would be complete without mentioning Helen Turley wines, although she lacks the modest lower price entry level offerings available from the others.

Not a fair fight. This pairing posed a bit of a challenge - a single vineyard designated bottling versus a standard label blend. Which one do you do first? This experience was an object lesson to taste the pedestrian basic wine first as the conventions spelled out in my Wine Tasting 101 rules of wine tasting dictate - lighter, simpler to heavier and more complex.  In this case we tasted the higher quality designated label which completely outperformed and outshined the lesser label rendering it lackluster and uninspiring. Had we started with the lesser wine it might have had a chance - we might've enjoyed and appreciated it for what it was, and then be pleasantly surprised and treated to the more complex, polished and distinguishable designate. Indeed, on the producer's website they list the Single Vineyard designated wines in tasting order and even there, the Teldeschi is listed sixth out of seven in rank order. All the more reason to have a tasting strategy - even at a basic dinner experience. In this instance, I jumped on the Teldeschi - eager to try it, without considering what might follow. After tasting and finishing the first bottle, I then selected the second as a basis for comparison. I am glad I did, but in retrospect, we should've done them in reverse order. Only we wine-geeks consider or obsess over such detail! I'll hold on to my 'day' job and continue to do this for recreation!

Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Sonoma County Dry Creek Zinfandel 2008

The mostly old vines that of the Sonoma County Teldeschi vineyard are Zinfandel, Carignane, and Petite Sirah. The three varieties are fermented separately and blended to taste.

Consistent with what the winemaker's notes indicate, the 2008 Teldeschi is nearly black in color, complex, smooth and polished with big forward aromas of black cherry, coffee, hints of caramel, and dark chocolate with full flavors of sweet cherry liqueur, vanilla and smoke leading to a ripe, dense, gently tannic, long and bright fruit finish.

Blend - 75% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, 3% Carignane, 2% Alicante Bouschet

RM 91 points.



Ravenswood Napa Valley Old Vine Zinfandel 2010

From the Ravenswood 'County' series.

Full-bodied, aromas and flavors of blackberry and black cherry with notes of cocoa and baking spices, finishing with jammy fruit, dark chocolate, and lively acidity. A bit flat and single dimensional compared to the Teldeschi above.

RM 87 points. 


The Blend: 76% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, 1% Carignane
Source of fruit: 44% Napa Valley, 27% Oakville, 23% St. Helena, 6% Sonoma County

To finish the flight, George selected a traditionally classic Napa Cab.

Joseph Phelps, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

The grapes are sourced from five (of seven) different Phelps estate vineyards: the Home Ranch in St. Helena, Suscol in South Napa, Yountville in the Oak Knoll District, Banca Dorada in Rutherford and Las Rocas in the Stags Leap District.

Full bodied, complex, nicely balanced, smooth and polished with aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, ripe plum with notes of chocolate mocha and anise, and hints of espresso and spicy oak on a long silky tannin finish. 

Blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot.

 RM 91 points.



Tasted at Seasons 52 restaurant in Tyson's Corner w/ Danny A, James S, George N and David I.