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Senior editor James Molesworth joined Wine Spectator in 1997. He reviews Bordeaux, the Loire, the Rhône, South Africa and New York's Finger Lakes.
James Molesworth

A California Zinfandel for Entertaining Rhône Winemakers

Ravenswood Zinfandel Sonoma Valley Cooke 2001

James Molesworth
Posted: October 30, 2009

Last week, amidst the frenzy of the New York Wine Experience, I had a few Rhône vignerons over for some casual wine and hors d’oeuvres. I wanted to thank them for taking part in my Rhône tasting panel on Friday morning. And I did so without serving a single bottle of Rhône wine.

Rather, I wanted to open up a range of wines that I know they don’t get to taste every day, if at all. I poured Argentine Malbec, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and South African Syrah, along with Loire, German and Alsatian whites. And a California Zinfandel from my cellar.

A few of the vignerons knew Ravenwsood winery’s “No Wimpy Wines” slogan, and all of them were certainly familiar with the grape. But, they admitted, none of them drink Zinfandel regularly.

The wine was very vibrant, with racy red cherry and red currant fruit backed by nice spice shadings and a long, almost zesty finish. Not heady at all, it showed nice defining acidity and underlying minerality. It’s holding up very nicely and still has a few years to go.

With pâté, cheese, olives, mushroom tortes, tuna tartare and more being passed around the room, it also did well with the food, prompting everyone to agree it was an excellent wine. I rated it 90 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated California Zinfandels, plus get our quick list of Top Values in Zinfandel.

Don Fuller
US —  October 30, 2009 8:14am ET
Which one of Ravenswood's Zinfandels was it?
James Molesworth
Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  October 30, 2009 8:29am ET
Don: The wine is listed under the headline - the '01 Cooke vineyard...

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