2008 Ravenswood "Old Hill" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel (Previously $60)
A tremendous Zinfandel, Ravenswood’s most expensive, and while you might quiver at the price, it’s easily a very great wine. This is Zinfandel on steroids, a monster of wild summer berry, tobacco, currant and spice flavors, wrapped into significantly thick tannins. Yet despite the power, it never quite loses elegance and balance. The winery’s 2007 was their greatest Zinfandel ever, and this one isn’t far behind.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Inky ruby with a bright rim. Powerful aromas of dark cherry and black raspberry are complicated by potpourri and dark chocolate, with a hint of spicecake coming up with air. Juicy, penetrating cherry and dark berry flavors are sweetened by a sexy oak note and show no rough edges. Turns more floral with air and picks up supple tannins. Extremely alluring wine with impressive finishing lift and sappy length. As attractive as this is now, I'd hold off drinking it for another five-plus years, at least.
**Two Stars** Ravenswood's Old Hill Zinfandel often comes across as tougher and tighter than its cellarmates, and that is once again the case here. A big, deeply fruited and very well-focused wine in 2008, this version gradually drifts to tannin and curt acidy after a very showy start. It is a gutsy, solidly structured wine that demands patience, and if it requires a good five years before reaching its stride, it has all of the right stuff in all of the right places to last for a decade or two.
Wine & Spirits
Old Hill (named for the original farmer, not the topography) is a collection of ancient mixed blacks planted in 1851. Farmed today by Will Bucklin and his family, who have identified at least 14 varieties in the mix, predominantly zinfandel, plus grenache, petite sirah, carignane and alicante. Joel Peterson has made a single-vineyard wine from Old Hill since 1983 and knows the vines intimately. His 2008 has a sophisticated sort of rusticity, a wine that tastes more of the soil in its black and brawny tannin than of all the purple and blueberry fruit flavor above it. The structure only takes it deeper into darkness and savory earth with air. Decant it if you open the bottle now, to serve with game, whether roast boar or moose.
Deep crimson and some brown at rim. Beautifully complex aroma: blueberry and a touch floral and fragrant tea leaf. But wild herbs too. Fully ripe but no overripeness and no greenness. So refined, a touch honeyed. Texture is utterly soft but not at all flabby. So refined. There's a sort of molasses sweetness on the nose but not as sweet as that suggests. Beautiful wine. Essence of great Zin and great old California vineyards. 19/20 points.