If Georges Duboeuf is the acknowledged "King of Beaujolais" in France, then Joel Patterson, founding winemaker at Ravenswood, should be hailed as
California's "King of Zinfandel."
Starting in 1976 with a one-man winery making 327 cases of zinfandel, Patterson turned it into the largest producer of zinfandel in the world. I know of no one who can match Patterson's devotion to zinfandel vines and wines.
Consider the 2007 Ravenswood Dickerson Zinfandel, one of the winery's many single-vineyard designated wines. Produced from grapes grown in a Napa Valley vineyard, the vines act "like they're in Sonoma County," Patterson says.
The result is a fresh, bright red that delivers hints of red raspberry on the nose and good tannins ending in a light white-pepper taste. It's a very easy-to-enjoy zin and one of my favorites in this winery's inventory.
Patterson thinks the 2007 Ravenswood Big River Zinfandel tastes like claret. The vineyard, whose vines date back to1900, is between the Russian River and Alexander Valley, but has ocher-colored soil that's
typical of the Alexander Valley. It's the red and black plum undertones mixed with notes of baking spices and moderate tannins that give this wine its rich, complex and mellow character.
Zinfandel is blended with petite sirah grapes in the 2007 Ravenswood Barricia Zinfandel. The petite sirah vines grown at Barricia (an amalgam of the owners' names, Barbara and Patricia) provide rich tannins to support the zin, giving the wine a claret-like structure.
I taste spice and fresh berry preserves.
Similarly, it's the petite sirah in the 2007 Ravenswood Belloni Zinfandel that give that very rich red a hint of black pepper. The other reds in the blend, including the carignane and alicante bouchet, contribute to its dark color and lingering finish.
Serve with: Pair the Dickerson and Big River zins with grilled meats, including steak, burgers and ribs. Both wines also complement pizza or pasta with meat or cheese sauce. The Barricia zin goes well with grilled chicken and barbecue. The Belloni is made for spicy chicken and beef dishes.
Availability/suggested retail: Sold in better wines shops, each of the zins retails for about $35.
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