What’s more American than apple pie you ask? Well, Zinfandel of course! Long rumored to be the oldest vitus vinifera varietal cultivated in the US, zin has become America’s Heritage Grape. More than that, zin really is…California!
Ravenswood Winery is one of the oldest zin houses in the area, starting in 1976 when legendary vintner Joel Peterson began his adventure in Sonoma Valley. Now, Joel has handed over the day to day operation of the winery to a larger interest, and while he isn’t making all of the wine anymore, he is able to focus on some very special wines at Ravenswood – the single vineyard series. I’m so happy that these wines exist because they are everything that the mass produced zinfandel is not. While the lower end Vintners Blend series is a passable BBQ wine, and great for any occasion, I would say that my tastes have graduated to the complex and distinct Single Vineyard Designates. I have had occasion to taste these with Joel, and it’s always a treat.
This time, I am preparing for Thanksgiving with two of these wines: 2008 Dickerson and 2008 Teldeschi Single Vineyards Designates.
The Dickerson is 100% zin from Napa Valley, and this big baby is aged for 20 months in 30% new French Oak. This wine has none of the Dry Creek brambly-ness, and is restrained and full of smokey meat, allspice, and pepper. This wine really is still a baby, with strong tannins. There is a lot of minerality in the backbone ,and it’s a great wine with a lot of complexity. There is a ton of licorice in there. This one needs to open up for a bit. It falls a bit flat for me, but I am waiting for it to open up.
Next up, the Teldschi is from Dry Creek Valley, but is blended with 20% Petite Sirah, 3% Carignange, and 2% Alicante Bouchet. It is a classic Italian field blend, and brings back images of the old wines of Asti and the home brewed red blends of Gallo in the old days. There are a lot of blackberry notes in here, with bittersweet chocolate. What I appreciate with this wine is that it has black and blue fruit without it being brambly and overdone. All three components are fermented separately and then blended to produce the final result. I am getting a strong espresso note in here, and the 31% new French oak comes out in toasty notes. The smokey finish lends itself to fig cake as well. There is a great lingering tasted of cracked pepper as well. Teldeschi is opening up slowly, very slowly, to espresso and blackberry notes, very dense and chewy
After a day, the Teldeschi has become a bit bitter. The Dickerson, however, has opened up very nicely, and I am getting more fruit, with smoke, meat and anise on the finish
The ruling? The Teldeschi is a fun wine that adds a littl extra to the traditional Dry Creek experience. You probably want to decant this for about an hour. The Dickerson on the other hand, is tight and closed off when first opening. For this Napa Valley zin, more time in a decanter will server you well. I would leave this open for at least 3 horus to get the full benefit o fhte wine. At first taste last night, I didn’t care for the Dickerson and was a bit dissapointed; however, this proves the point of my post on aeration – time in an open bottle or decanter can vastly change a wine.