The 2007 Ravenswood Napa Valley Old Vines Zinfandel is 76% Zinfandel and 24% Petite Sirah sourced from several contract vineyards in Napa Valley, California. This is the middle of Ravenswood’s line of Zinfandel, with the Vintners’ Blend as the entry level and the Single Vineyard wines on top. I found this wine selling for $9.99 on an end of bin sale and it had been selling for $16, Ravenswood’s website says to drink it by 2014, so whatever is left of this vintage needs to go. This Zinfandel was aged in French oak barrels for 18 months, 30% new oak and the rest used oak barrels. Mixing in new oak barrels with various used oak barrels is how winemakers achieve a “drink it now” wine, it is a careful formula that gives the wine the characteristics of oak aging, without having to actually having to cellar the wine for 5 or 6 years. Winemakers have figured out the secret to making a relatively young wine taste similar to aged wine and this is why inexpensive wine has greatly improved in the last 10 years. The alcohol content is 14.5%.
The color is dark opaque black cherry with a strawberry halo. The nose is cedar bark mulch, plum, mosquito repellant and clove chewing gum. This is an elegant Zinfandel, not the juicy, jammy Zins you see from Lodi or Amador County. It starts off with raspberry and sour cherry with an undercurrent of curry spice running thru the body of the wine. The mid palate adds Smuckers blackberry jam (not sweet) and a shot of cranberry juice. There are a good supply of firm tannins that tug at the back of your palate, they are not out of balance and they don’t get in the way, but they make their presence known. The acidity gives the wine some length and helps the mild finish last awhile.
I like my Zinfandels to be fun, flavor riots of fruit and spice and the Ravenswood Napa Valley Zinfandel is not a fun wine, but it is interesting. If you give it enough time to breath, after all this is a “drink it now” wine that actually has been aged, you will be rewarded with subtle, somewhat sophisticated mingling of flavors and textures.