American wines are different. Zinfandel may be Primitivo (and I do love Primitivo) but in California it gets a different treatment. Sadly most of the Californian Zinfandel sold in the UK is White Zinfandel, which is usually overly sweet, confected, cheap pink wine aimed at teenage drinkers and people who don’t much like wine, but feel that it’s the fun thing for “girls” to drink.
This Ravenswood Zinfandel, the Old Vine Vintners Blend was bought in the USA, where it was cheap, not just good value, but just plain cheap. The synthetic cork did give the feel of a low cost bottle. I don’t really understand why anyone would choose a synthetic cork, they look cheap, they’re hard to remove, they don’t fit back into the bottle and they damage corkscrews. Winemakers – it’s cork or screwcap, both are fine, but anything else isn’t.
The wine looked lovely, it was bright and looked like reduced raspberry juice, not bright red, but certainly not purple. It may be the colour choice for our next carpet, we have agreed it will have to be a shade of wine.
It smelled fruity, more raspberry, blackberry, blueberry and if there was such a thing as a purple berry I’m sure it would smell of that – in the absence of such a fruit I’ll suggest loganberry. With it was some richness of oak, the warm and woody kind rather than the over sweet vanilla essence type.
It felt good, smooth and with some soft tannins, some ripe, not much to hold it together for any length of ageing, but enough to give it a nice mouthfeel, with a medium level of alcohol, keeping it pleasant. Those fruits carried on and seemed to get bigger, I felt a bit like Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, worrying that I would turn into a giant blueberry from all the juiciness.
Really good Californian Zinfandel is expensive even when it’s at home, and once you’ve added shipping and UK excise duties and VAT onto the price it’s unaffordable in Britain, although Berry Bros did quite a nice one in their varietals range, sadly it’s retired.