Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson no longer owns it but, last we heard, he was still overseeing winemaking at zinfandel’s most-famous winery. Here are three new ones:
The 2009 Ravenswood "Lodi" Old Vine Zinfandel ($13) is warm and generous with juicy cherry flavors up front followed by a darker, minerally finish with hints of balsamic and light tannins. It would be good with pink-on-the-inside, charred-on-the-outside grilled lamb.
On the other hand, the 2009 Ravenswood Sonoma County Zinfandel ($16) comes very close to being "wimpy" — creamy berry taste but with little zip and complexity — something Peterson claims wouldn’t happen with his wines.
The 2010 Ravenswood Napa Valley Old Vine Zinfandel ($19) is also light, but it’s leaner and does have some zip which would make it pair with burgers, hot dogs, and picnic foods.
Much more complex is the 2010 Justin Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($26), with ripe black raspberry fruit, good texture, mild tannins, and a chalky finish. Well-structured, but not tightly structured, it also has notes of mocha and chocolate. Ideal to serve with a rare filet mignon.
The 2008 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($53) is a very elegant wine, as usual — smooth dark cherry and blackberry flavors, mild tannins, a hint of licorice, and a long, long finish. Try this one with veal chops.
Finally, the 2010 Divining Rod Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($16) has lean, dark blackberry flavors with a little smokiness and good acidity and minerality, just right for grilled salmon.