Friday, July 20, 2018

Ravenswood Single Vineyard Designate Zinfandels



A small group of Houston wine writers and their spouses were invited to try the Ravenswood Single Vineyard Designate Zinfandels last week paired with three courses at B&B Butchers, an upscale steakhouse with a laid back vibe on Washington. All the meat for the restaurant is hand cut in the butcher shop and the pairings were created by executive chef, Tommy Elbashary. Our host for the evening was Gary Sitton, Ravenwood's Director of Winemaking.

Each of the Ravenswood Single Vineyard Designate Zinfandels has less than 1000 cases produced. The winemaking for each is virtually the same and has been since the owner, Joel Peterson, started in 1976. All are fermented with native yeasts, punched down by hand in open top fermenters, and aged in 100% French oak with only 20-30% of it new depending on the vineyard. The differences in the wines are not the result of the winemaker’s hand but are the truth of what the vineyard has to offer. All are distributed nationally, primarily to restaurants and, occasionally, to higher end retail establishments.

All the wines were from the 2015 vintage so I asked Gary Sitton for his thoughts on the year. He feels that 2015 was a favorable vintage despite the few heat spikes coupled with the early drought. He ranks 2015, overall, as a very good year for Zinfandel. The wines have between 14.6-15.2% ABV, they still have good balance with rich fruit and fresh acidity.

He started at Ravenswood in 1999 and the goal was always to make terroir driven wines with good balance. When he's not drinking Zinfandel, he drinks wines made from Rhone varieties, he likes them for the same reason that he likes Zinfandel, for the food friendliness and versatility. He considers Zinfandel to be a quintessential summer wine for its pairing ability with all forms of bbq and the typical sides that go with it. He is a fan of serving summer reds slightly chilled, he believes it is better to start off too cool than too warm in the summer heat. Although he loves all of the wines, he most often drinks the Old Hill and the Belloni Vineyards.

All of the wines are highly recommended, they were deliciously drinkable and paired beautifully with the meal.


The Menu:
Course One - Bacon Three Ways
Ravenswood Single Vineyard Old Hill 2015Zinfandel, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Carignane, and Alicante Bouschet make up this field blend from a Sonoma County vineyard that was planted in 1851 at sea level on clay loam soil on St. George rootstock. Bright, generous and juicy with cherry, black plum, pepper and licorice; dry, full-bodied, fresh and silky with a hint of smoke in the lengthy finish. SRP $60
Ravenswood Single Vineyard Barricia 2015 - This wine is a blend of about 81% Zinfandel and 19% Petite Sirah. It is sourced from a vineyard in the heart of Sonoma Valley that is planted on a mix of old volcanic soils and red clay loam at sea level. The property boasts 6 acres of Zinfandel vines planted in the 1890s. Fragrant and fruity with blackberry, plum, and spice; dry, full-bodied, smooth and persistent. SRP $39

Course 2 - 28 day Dry-aged Rib Eye with Veal Demi Glacé served with Corn Soufflé and Roasted Vegetables
Ravenswood Single Vineyard Belloni 2015 - From a small 7.5 acre vineyard that was originally planted in 1900 that sits at sea level in the cooler Russian River valley on silty loam soils in Sonoma. This wine is a co-fermented field blend of Zinfandel, Alicante Bouschet, Carignane, and Petite Sirah, Sweet, ripe aromas and flavors of fresh blueberries, forest floor and pepper with a hint of savoriness. The cool, foggy climate helps maintain the good balance and fresh acidity, it is dry and full bodied with a long, elegant, slightly spicy finish. SRP $39
Ravenswood Single Vineyard Dickerson 2015 -  This 100% Zinfandel wine is sourced from just south of St Helena in Napa Valley from a vineyard planted in 1930 on bale clay loam soils located on Zinfandel Lane. Though this is the warmest growing site of the single designated vineyards, it still produces elegant wines due to a leaf roll virus that slows down the growth rate of the grapes while helping to preserve acidity.
Bright, fresh, and elegant with raspberry aromas with eucalyptus and a light floral note, dry, medium + bodied with sweet tannins, rich berry flavors, fresh acidity and a bit of pepper in the lingering finish. SRP $39

Course 3 - Butter Brownie and Gelato
Ravenswood Single Vineyard Teldeschi Vineyard 2015 - From Dry Creek Valley, this is the third generation of the Teldeschi family that are now farming this vineyard. It sits at 300 feet above sea level on gravelly, clay loam. It is cross cultivated and dry farmed with a high percentage of old vines. The blend is 78.2% Zinfandel, 15.8% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignane, and 1% Alicante Bouschet. This is considered to be Ravenwood’s highest quality Zinfandel vineyard that they source from in Dry Creek Valley. Big, dense, and dark with ripe blackberry, black cherry, and espresso, dry, full-bodied with a persistent, silky chocolate finish. 
$39
Ravenswood Single Vineyard Big River Vineyards 2015 - Sourced from old Zinfandel
vines planted in 1893 on 14 acres in southern Alexander Valley in Healdsburg on the backside of Fitch Mountain where the Russian River makes a turn and heads out to the coast. The vineyard takes its name from this geographic feature. The vineyard sits on a high bench above the fog at a 500 foot elevation on volcanic red clay loam soils. This vineyard is only planted with Zinfandel which was not typical of that time. Harvesting can be a challenge as the warmth of the region can lead from underripe grapes to overripe grapes within a couple of days. This Zin was a bit riper than the other one from the Dickerson Vineyard yet still refined. Rich and round with raspberry jam, dried herbs, and pepper; dry, medium + body with smooth tannins, good acidity with a juicy spiced cherry finish. SRP $39