Friday, October 26, 2007

Comparing Zins at Ravenswood Winery, Sonoma CA

Our first day in Sonoma was a blast! This is our first trip to the Sonoma Valley and compared to Napa, it seems really laid back, with a little more "old West" charm. Walking around the historic square is fun but, we are here on a mission! We decided to take on Ravenswood because it is close to downtown (easy to find), and because Matt Kramer gives Ravenswood a good review in New California Wine. To be honest, I have seen Ravenswood in our local liquor stores for years and never picked up a bottle because I assumed it was another mass-produced wine marketed as a boutique wine that may or may not be any good.

The property is lovely, and the tasting room had a really good atmosphere. We liked the fact that we could just stand there and enjoy the wines without a staff person hovering over us (I get a little self-conscious about going through my tasting ritual while a "professional" is watching).

All the wines in the "Vineyard Designate" tasting flight were good. I tried the 2002 Estate Merlot which was nice and would pair well with a risotto with prosciutto dish. One really cool thing was having the opportunity to taste three Zinfandels from three different vineyards. We tried the '05 Dickerson, the '05 Belloni, and the '05 Big River. Big River was my fav. I loved it because I could pick out a lot of different aromas (sometimes you wonder if you know what you're doing when you keep getting cherry, plum, and smoked meat...) It had a certain Moroccan flair; with hints of cumin, cardamom, and black pepper (Ravenswood refers to it unapologetically as the "Fruit Bomb"). The wine had the usual jammy, cherry, raisin, etc, as well as, strawberry. Yum yum. See Taster A's posting for full tasting notes.
The other surprise was the 2004 Pickberry (73% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon) which had some very distinctive aromas/flavors as well. I wrote one note, which was the unusual flavor of a malted on the palate. Nice stuff.

Oh, I never put in my two cents about Boony Doon Winery which Taster A posted an entry on last week: The surprise of the day there was the 2005 Piemontese Blend. Please try this if you ever have the opportunity. It is unlike any wine I've ever tasted (in a good way). The bottle has a very imaginative label design: If you pour a glass, close your eyes, take a sniff, and then look at the label, I think you will be amazed by how well the design represents the wine. I would call it "Transcendental Victorianism."