The StoryThe Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2017 is 76% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, and 3% Mixed Blacks (mixed blacks is the old school way of saying various Red wine grapes) sourced from more than one California grape growing AVA. That actually is the tech notes for the 2016 vintage, about a year ago the brand owners, Constellation sold Ravenswood and about 30 other wine brands to E and J Gallo.I imagine that since they no longer owned the brand they didn't go through the expense of doing marketing materials. Before there was Constellation there was Joel Peterson who founded Ravenswood in the 1970s. It was Joel Peterson who came up with the Vintners Blend which at one time was the largest selling ZInfandel in the US. Even though Peterson no longer owned the brand he was still active in the winemaking for Ravenswood.Gallo only bought the brand, not the winery or the tasting room, so Joel Peterson no longer has a relationship with the Ravenswood brand. I do not know what Gallo's plan is for the Ravenswood brand, but it won't and can't be the same. And that is a bit of the end of an era for me because back in 1994 or 1995 Ravenswood Vintners Blend was the first wine that opened up my palate to the possibilities of wine.Before the Vintners Blend, I never went to a liquor store to specifically purchase a wine. It was the wine that started my wine journey that is still unfolding. So let's get on with discussing the Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2017. Petite Sirah is the secret weapon in many value-priced Zinfandel wines, it adds Red berry flavors, a different spice profile and good acidity to Zinfandel. This ZIn used natural yeast for fermentation.Natural yeast is the yeast that floats in the air and attaches itself to the grape skin, it is seen as a more perfect match than commercial yeast. Though different commercial yeasts can bring out different elements in wine, so it is basically the winemakers' call. The wine was aged in French oak for 9 months with 35% the oak new. All of these are excellent technical notes for a wine that I found for $9.99. The alcohol content is 13.5%. Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2017 Tasting NotesThe color is a slightly see-thru cherry red. The nose is a little smokey and spicy, with ripe blackberry, spice, a little toasted vanilla, black pepper, and raspberry. This is a balanced and tasty ZInfandel, slightly rustic, but that's how I like my Zinfandel. It starts with smooth blueberry, blood orange, spice, and black pepper. Followed by blackberry, creamy vanilla, bitter dark chocolate, tart cranberry, and more spice. The tannins are smooth and sweet, the acidity proves a strong backbone. The finish is softer than the body of the wine and does linger on and on.The Summary I am glad to find the Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2017 a delicious well-made wine. It didn't “WOW” me like the first time back in the 90s, but I have sampled a lot of wine since then and am probably much harder to impress. Though the 1994 or 1995 Ravenswood Vintners Blend was a bottle of really good wine, it sort of went the wine version of viral. I remember going to a wine shop looking for it when most of the vintage had been sold and the wine shop had priced what they had left at around $25 when it was about ten bucks originally. Price gouging was good for me at that point because it reinforced the notion that I liked an excellent bottle of wine. Having confidence in your wine selection is important, especially with value-priced wine since wine marketing leaves the impression that a bottle isn't good enough unless to sell for a certain price. So, thanks to Ravenswood for teaching me that a good bottle of wine does not need to be expensive, and sometimes a value-priced wine can beat the big boys.
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