"Things got bad, and things got worse, I guess you know the tune, stuck in Old Lodi again", the jist of the lyrics about the sleepy little town of Lodi. From the iconic music group [CCR] Creedence Clearwater Revival, who apparently had some loathing about being in Lodi [or just small towns in general].
Lodi has changed quite a bit since the bad old days of being stuck in Old Lodi again and in fact it's something to look forward to, as a thriving wine industry has grown up and come to fruition around "old vine" Zinfandel. Old vine Zin has become hot-to-trot for many thirsting for ripe, rich opulent wines that really deliver on on the name, Old Vine. But it's not just old vine Zinfandel making the impact, it's Zinfandel in general that really has many folks paying attention to this area and for some very good reasons, the Zinfandel is fan-freaking-tastic [trust me, this is a real word] and the prices are reasonable [Nuff said].
If you plan to visit Lodi Wine Country, a great place to set up as your base of operations would be Wine and Roses. This is a bed and breakfast and premium hotel all wrapped up into one neat winetastic package. Elegant and refined, down to earth and so much to offer the traveling oenophile [lover of the vine]. The have an afters hours bar, with an deep wine list. They also boast a Lodi tasting room where you are able to swirl, sniff and slurp your way through 5-10 different local [with a minimal fee] wineries juice and even buy said juice if you are so inclined to as well. So if you wanted to just stop over for a day, before heading up to Highway 29. Please do yourself a favor and stop-by one [newly acquired] my all time favorites along the way [not to be missed]. I recommend staying a few days just to drink in the fabulous down home wonderfulness that is Wine and Roses and exploring first hand many of the great wineries of Lodi. While there, you may also want to check out the winetastic area of Calveras County and just a bit further the Sierra Foothills wait for the adventurous wine nut.
Now onto the review, another stunner from my friends at Ravenswood whose own base of operations is in Sonoma, just north of Lodi. Folks if you're not familiar with this label, do yourself a favor especially if you like Zinfandel, give them a swirl. You won't be disappointed.
Old Vines: Old vine Zin has become quite a cliched term in the wine world as of late and since there is no legal definition to meet in order for it to appear on the label as such, there's some big-time stretchingofcredulity in applying this term [so buyer beware]. If you would like to see more conversation on this debate on what exactly constitutes "old-vine" Zinfandel, please click here. Personally, it's my opinion that the "vines" should be 40 years or older to qualify to be defined as "old vine" Zinfandel and that there should be a legal definition that enforces that time frame.
However, according to Ravenswood Winery this Zinfandel easily qualifies [agreed] as "Old-Vine" because it's drawn from two distinct vineyards in the Lodi appellation. The 100 year old Kettleman Road Vineyard provides roughly 75% of the blend, resulting in thick, rich, concentrated blueberry fruit and soft spice. While the remainder of the fruit is grown on the 35 year old Perrin Vineyard, which provides bright, lively berry flavors hinting at raspberry [does all that and more]. This wine spent 12 months maturating in a combination of new and used French oak barrels which has contributed to the rounding out and fattening of flavors, which is evidenced by the first pour [no aerators needed]. Just give it a few good swirls, to release all those wonderful aromas and flavors and enjoy.
Swirly, Sniffed and Slurp: This wine is definitely "Hot to Trot", in the glass you a big dollop of garnet colored goodness. On the nose, it boasts enticing aromas of blueberry/blackberry pie and toastiness. Oh man on the palate you'll find a ripe bruiser, yet with an underlying sense of structure and finesse accented by concentrated plum, licorice and oh so subtle smoky peppery flavors that are wrapped around well integrated tannins. This wine really delivers on the name too, I think I can taste a century of goodness in each sip.
Pairing Suggestions: Prosciutto Sage crusted Pork Tenderloin, some roasted butternut squash [dash of baking spices, brown sugar and butter] and a side of freshly steamed broccoli. I've had this pairing on more than one occasion and [IMHO] it's yumtastic [no really this a real word]!
Price and Where to Buy: Well I checked Bevmo and it appears that while they traditionally have a wide selection of Ravenswood, they only have the 2008 Lodi Old Vine Zin and not the one I reviewed here today, which they are selling for $14.99 and on-sale for $9.99 each [a killer buy at that price]. However, if you wanted to purchase the 2007 which I recommend that you do, then I've only been able to find a few online purveyors who sell it for $17.99 each, a few dollars more than the SRP, plus shipping.
Full Disclosure: This wine was sent as a "Sample" for the review process. No compensation is given for writing a positive review or even a review at all. Each wine sent is judged on it's own merits and I let the chips fall where they may.
Label Lingo: In case this obscure part of the label is of interest to you, this wine was "Vinted and Bottled" by Ravenswood Winery, Sonoma, Ca.
What's the Score: I gave this wine 91 points on the CCWB 100 point scale. This wine represents extraordinary QPR and has wide availability. If this same wine was made from fruit in Dry Creek, you'd be looking at a $30 price point easily [since land prices do play a factor in the price of wine].
My Recommendation: This is the kind of wine that should represent an "easy" buy decision. A run don't walk and grab as many as you possibly can, case buying kind of wine. So if you see some of this wine hanging around a Bevmo or your favorite wine shop, grocery store or what have you, buy them all if you can. This wine is everything you would expect in an old vine zin and then some.