Cocktails & Spirits

Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck: Ravenswood 2008 Vintners Blend Zinfandel

Nostalgia can be a wonderful thing. 

For example, a million or so years ago, when I was living in the Sonoma wine country, my bimonthly trip along Westside Road in the Russian River Valley usually turned into the Zinfandel Tour. Davis Bynum, Hop Kiln, Mill Creek, Dry Creek, Lambert Bridge, all of them poured Zins that exemplified California winemaking at its best. 

They were big suckers, for sure, tasting of ripe cherries and blackberries, with spice and pepper and smoky notes, hints of earth and brambly vines. But they had balance too, and reasonable alcohol levels. Unfortunately, like American cars, they grew fat, flabby and stupid, with 15, even 16-percent alcohol, and so much thick, jammy, overripe fruit they were better suited to spreading on your breakfast toast. 

Then I found the Ravenswood 2008 Vintners Blend California Zinfandel and I was almost cruising Westside Road again. It's a helluva bargain at 10 bucks, dishing up all that spicy, peppery fruit and dusky, earthy undertones, in a finely balanced, food-friendly package that clocks in at a now-saintly 13.5-percent alcohol.  

Nostalgia  has rarely tasted this good.

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Bill Citara