Pros: Best Zin in years, all that's great about California wine.
Cons: This is the last vintage of Monte Rosso from Ravenswood (old man cries).
Welcome, Gentle Readers, to this weeks Bi-Coastal wine review from yours truly and Brother Pete Ruden. Petes in Georgia, Im in California, and for the last few years we have tried to post reviews of the same, or similar, bottles of wine to give our readers an idea of what we think about certain bottles of wine. We are both Zinfandel lovers so you may see more reviews of Zin than other varieties, but any wine is fair game for us. We usually review wines that we like. We dont always agree on how good the wine is and we try to honestly to do the best work we can on the reviews and I hope that you find them of value.
WINE OF THE WEEK
I bought a couple of the last bottles of Ravenswoods Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel, 2002 from the winery and sent one to Pete. The Monte Rosso has been around for quite a while. The vineyard is located on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains and includes an old winery built in 1886. I believe that some of the vineyard was owned by Jack London for awhile. Gallo purchased the vineyard from Ravenswood and may retrofit the old winery and produce wines on the site. I look forward to trying Gallos product when it becomes available.
As Ive noted in numerous earlier reviews of Ravenswood wines, they are a big operation. A person at the winery told me that their Vintners Blend, with production of 70,000 plus cases a year, is the cash cow that allows winemaker Joel Peterson to produce their Vineyard Designate Series of Zinfandel and Rhone Blends. They have an excellent website, http://www.ravenswood-wine.com that will tell you their very interesting history.
I took the bottle, along with a leg of lamb, over to friends Craig and Erin Friedmans house for an evening of music, eating and wine. They are known professionally as STILL MARRIED and I will have a review of their premier CD, A KISS BENEATH THE SUNDIAL BRIDGE, posted in the near future.
We pulled the cork on the wine around 6:00 p.m. and all of us remarked on the bouquet exuding from the classy looking bottle. My notes say cherries, berries, vanilla and licorice. We poured a tasting glass and I, initially, thought that the wine didnt taste as good as it smelled. A swirl showed the wine only partially sheeting the glass and the legs were not that impressive. A sniff produced the qualities noted above and a hint of chocolate. The wine is a dark, rich zin purple that is consistent across the glass with a hint of youth, appearing to thin-out right next to the edge of the glass. In the mouth, this initial taste was of a young wine, fruit accessible early in the taste with tannins coming on strong in mid-mouth. The 15.4% alcohol was evident but not off-putting and the finish was pleasantly long with the vanilla and licorice following the wine down the palate.
The wine rested for an hour and a half while the lamb cooked and we played and sang. Erin supplied a delicious mystery grain that I thought was couscous mixed with corn niblets and an excellent green salad. We poured appropriately full glasses and the Monte Rosso showed its stuff. The wine is a luxurious zin, full in the mouth and both the alcohol and the tannins quieted down, now adding tasty harmony to the wine. After resting, the wine sheeted the glass perfectly and lovely, regularly spaced and descending legs appeared that have to be the best that Ive seen in years. The wine seemed to have added a bit of garnet to the color. The taste was even better than Id expected. Smooth but assertive up front. In mid-mouth the tannins were perfect, sliding down the sides of the tongue and setting it up for the fruit evident on the top. Cherries galore are there with some other berry flavors, chocolate and leather adding their magic to them and a long, silky finish that I clearly recall almost four days later. The alcohol is still there but not to the point that it will offend those who stay away from Big Zins because of it. This is the best Zin that Ive had in years, hands down. Craig also had superlative comments for the wine. I know that Ive used the term in previous reviews, but my last line in the tasting notes proclaims, This wine has all the qualities that characterize the excellent wines made in California!
This is the best $33 bucks Ive spent on wine in years. Im not a big 5 Stars guy, but this one merits all five of them. The wine is still available, in very limited quantities, from Ravenswood and I strongly suggest you give them a call to see if theres any left and, if there is, buy a couple of bottles. The wine may even improve for the next year or two. Im on the phone to get some more of the 2002 Monte Rosso on Monday along with a few bottles of Ravenswoods Teldeschi Vineyard Designate Zin which has been my favorite for years . . . that was before this Monte Rosso. A solid 5 Stars, without qualification, from sweetpaulie. Brother Petes review should be posted soon and I refer you to his fine review for a second opinion. Salud!