2009 Ravenswood – Old Vine Zinfandel – Lodi

Californian Primitivo

For many years, sommeliers and scientists alike have been debating whether Primitivo and Zinfandel are the same grape or not. The Primitivo grape is characterized by its high sugar level, which often results in wines with a rather high alcohol by volume. In Italy, the grape is mostly planted in Apulia but there are also smaller quantities of Primitivo found in Tuscany and other regions. In the USA, Primitivo is often grown in California where it is planted in more than 10% of all vineyards.

A few weeks ago, I visited one of the wine shops here in Munich and decided to buy a Californian wine. Ravenswood was recommended to me by fellow blogger Anatoli. I went with their 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel. The wine is produced with 77% Primitivo (Zinfandel) and 23% Petite Sirah grapes. The wine’s appellation is Lodi. Californians like to say that the Lodi is the Zinfandel capital of the world. Not sure if I agree. In my opinion, Primitivo/Zinfandel still remains a variety that is mostly associated with the great wines of Apulia.

Neither the bottle nor the website indicate whether the wines aged in oak or not but judging from my tasting notes I assume that it did not (or only in parts). Anatoli showed me the technical sheet of the wine and according to it, the wine aged 18 months in French oak. I tasted no oak whatsoever.

2009 Beringer - Old Vine Zinfandel - LodiRavenswood makes around 200000 bottles per year. The cultivate vines in Sonoma County, Napa County and Lodi (San Joaquin County).

Tasting notes Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel

This Old Vine Zinfandel had a deep ruby red color. The nose was dominated by plums, strawberry jam, blackcurrant jam and earth. The wine had a label listed ABV of 14.5%. Unfortunately, I could smell the alcohol, too. On the palate, Old Vine Zinfandel was very fruit-forward. There were some minerals and a decent acidity, too. The wine had a small/medium body and mellow tannins. Ravenswood’s Old Vine Zinfandel had a finish of medium length.


2.5 / 5 stars      

Parting words

I enjoyed this wine. It was nothing special but sure worth trying. The wine retails in Munich for 13€ and at that price the Old Vine Zinfandel can make good job as an everyday wine.

I found the wine to be a a little bit one-dimensional – it was dominated by fruit and lacked other aromas like spices. Ravenswood’s Old Vine Zinfandel was much better than the 2008 Beringer – Founder’s Estate Old Vine Zinfandel, which I previously tried and did not like at all. What is your opinion on Californian Primitivo? Do you like them? Which one is your favorite?

Because of VinItaly 2013 there will be no weekly wine quiz this week and next week. 

40 comments on “2009 Ravenswood – Old Vine Zinfandel – Lodi”

  1. Suzanne Reply

    I agree with your review, I have bought the Ravenwood Old Vine several times, it’s not going to rock your world but it’s a good wine, it’s very affordable, readily available and I almost always include a bottle in the mix when I am having a get together.

    • vino in love Reply

      The Ravenswoold Old Vine Zinfandel definitely does if its a “starter wine”, which is followed by other wines but if I’d serve the Old Vine as the main wine of the evening then I’m pretty sure that at least some people would be disappointed. For me the Old Vine is a good everyday wine though 🙂

  2. the drunken cyclist Reply

    Some have made a distinction between Primitivo and Zinfandel, with the latter being a clone of the former. Primitivo typically has a much tighter cluster and Zinfandel has larger berries. I am not sure if the clonal difference is as much as exists in the Pinot world, but the two do have some noticeable differences.

    I believe that the Ravenswood you had retails in the $10 range here in the U.S., so it is by no means a world beater. Just bought a bottle of Trione Primitivo (they certainly make a distinction between the two, listing both Primitivo and Zinfandel as being parts of the blend) which was excellent and $30ish.

    • vino in love Reply

      Thanks for stopping by! The Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi and the Beringer Old Vine Zinfandel Founder’s Estate were so far the only two Zinfandel that I found in wineshops here in Munich. I will see if I can get my hands on a Trione Primitivo because I’d love to try a Californian Primitivo at that price-range.

      It’s interesting that a winery can list Primitivo and Zinfandel as part of the blend. In the European Union that’s not possible. An Apulian winery can list its Primitivo as Zinfandel though and when exporting wine to the US, they often do.

      • the drunken cyclist Reply

        Unfortunately, the Trione is only available from the winery through its wine club (they took pity on me since I will be writing a piece about my visit in the coming weeks). Anatoli could perhaps suggest a different “premium” Zin since, as with most wines, there are several levels….

        My guess would be that most “better” Zins rarely leave the states….

        And I try to stop by with every new post, but I rarely have anything intelligent to say!

  3. talkavino Reply

    Ravenswood makes a lot of Zinfandels, so you tried one of probably 10 or more, so you can definitely keep trying..

    Web site has all the wine information available in the technical notes – here is the link for 2009 Lodi Old Vines Zin:

    And here is a copy of the same details:

    The Blend:
    77% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah
    Where It’s From:
    97% Lodi, 3% North Coast
    18 months French Oak, 30% new
    Skin Contact:
    7–9 days of skin contact during
    native fermentation
    6.1 g/L
    Drink now, or
    age another 5–7 years

    • vino in love Reply

      So far I only found the Beringer Old Vine Zinfandel Founder’s Estate and the Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi in Munich. I’ll keep looking though. Jeff just recommended one from Trione. Will see if I can find that.

      Where did you find the technical sheet for the wine? I checked here but there was no information given about whether the wine aged in oak or not.

      • talkavino Reply

        Julian, on that page you are referring to, there is clickable link for Current and Past Fact Sheets – once you will click on it, you will see “Download PDF” links for different vintages – this is what you need to use.

  4. wineking3 wineking3 Reply

    I like the Ravenswood wines. Try some of their single-vineyard Zinfandel. I find them more complete.
    What a pity, that there you won’t do your regular wine quiz for two weeks! Have fun at VinItaly! When are you going?

    • vino in love Reply

      I’ll look into the Ravenswood single-vineyard wines.
      I’m leaving for Italy this weekend. Already am so excited 🙂 Going to be so much fun for sure!

    • vino in love Reply

      Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if you enjoyed this wine 🙂 It has a good quality-price ratio but don’t expect too much of it.

  5. Marco van Puff Reply

    I mostly agree with your review. I tried the Old Vine a few times and was disappointed that it lacked oak aromas like cocoa or tobacco.

    • vino in love Reply

      Glad to see that you agree with me. The fact that the wine was one-dimensional was the reason why I rated the wine with 2.5/5 stars and not with 3.

  6. drinkforlife Reply

    Always appreciate your honest reviews. A 2.5 star rating makes sense to me. Always have a bottle or two in stock but you’re right that the wine is more made for an every-day use and not for big dinners and special occasions.

  7. PSsquared Reply

    We actually visited their tasting room in California several years ago. We had such a great experience, that we kept buying their wines in the store, even though we didn’t like them as much. Now we just buy it every once in a while, for the memories. 🙂

    • vino in love Reply

      how wonderful that you got to visit the winery! Any particular Californian wine that you can recommend? I’m currently looking for US-wine recommendations 🙂

      • PSsquared Reply

        I’m not the expert. But I really enjoy J. Lohr, Estancia and Rodney Strong cabernets. They are all from California. Cheers!

  8. winetalks winetalks Reply

    Nice and honest wine review Julian! I’m not a big fan of Californian red wines in general. I like some Pinot Noirs but usually I find Californian reds to be too fruity – especially the Cabs and Zins.
    I’d take a Salice Salentino 10 times over a Lodi!

  9. theducksong Reply

    i’m still not quite sure how the american appellation system works. is there actually a system like in france, italy, spain or germany or are they purely random?

    • vino in love Reply

      Thanks for visiting! I’m no expert when it comes to American wine but I believe that the AVAs work a bit differently than traditional, European appellations. I think you can compare an AVA to an Italian IGT appellation from size and restrictions. AOC/DOC appellations tend to have stricter rules than most AVAs.

  10. Sean P. Reply

    Red fruit jam – love that! But what a pity that the wine had not many spices and so.
    It’s funny that Primitivo and Zinfandel are two names for one grape.

    • vino in love Reply

      Thanks for commenting! Well there are quite a few grapes that have multiple names. Chardonnay = Pinot Giallo, Sangiovese = Nielluccia and so on.

    • mariberlinese Reply

      Zinfandel has even more names as it feels at home in many different countries, and the USA is just the newest among them. Here the Croatian, Serbian and Montenegrin names of the variety: Kratošija, Krakošija, Grotošija, Crljenak Kaštelanski.

      • Sean P. Reply

        Wow that’s pretty amazing! I didn’t know that it had that many names! Thank you so much for sharing that info abot one of my favorite grapes 😀

  11. mariberlinese Reply

    Your description sounds like you had one of those great one-dimentional modern yummy wines 🙂 So, Primitivo di Manduria still better? I admit I have never had any particularly exciting Zinfandel, but I don’t know many of them either. I will discover them sooner or later.

    But now, I want to point to a fascinating fact – and there will be soon a post about it on my blog – that both Primitivo and Zinfandel come most probably from Montenegro, where this very old variety bears a name of Kratošija 🙂

  12. Frank Reply

    Although I think zins are wonderful, but (in general), when I think of Lodi wines, I think of mass production. Besides, there are many more wonderful zins throughout California – but I wonder how many are available to you in Munich. On the plus side, Ravenswood is a respected producer.

    • vino in love Reply

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂
      Can you recommend any particular Californian Zin? You are right that it might be hard to find them in Munich but I might be lucky and find a store that carries it. Unfortunately, most US wine that I find in Munich is either of very low quality or exuberantly expensive.

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