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A Cellar-Worthy Wine for $45… From An Unexpected Place

This week's wine pick comes from a surprising locale.

Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel 2011 $45.99

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t drink a lot of Zinfandel. I find too many of the readily available bottlings have way too much jam, backed up with a swack of alcohol, to make them enjoyable to drink with a meal. Worse, a bunch of them come from broad generic appellations but are priced like wines that hail from a distinct place. But there are exceptions to every rule, and when it comes to Zinfandel, those exceptions are magical and way under-appreciated. I had the pleasure of attending a tasting with Paul Draper of Ridge a few Vancouver Winefests ago and the ability of even his most basic labels to age and evolve blew me away—so I promptly snagged a few bottles and tucked them in my cellar.

I was reminded of those bottles a few weeks back when Joel Peterson of Ravenswood was in town. Joel is one of the very few guys who makes Zinfandel at the level of Ridge. And while Ravenswood’s more basic bottling continue to set the standard for reasonably priced Zin, it’s his single vineyard wines that are that rare combination of age-worthy and reasonably priced that happens so rarely in California these days. The vines in the Teldeschi vineyard (in addition to Zin, there are small amounts of  Petite Sirah and Carignane) are almost a hundred years old and they produce an intoxicatingly perfumed wine packed with dark berry flavours and a long, lingering finish. Most importantly, there’s none of the flabby excess that Zin can occasionally produce, just a beautiful integration of  ripeness and acid. If this wine, with this pedigree, was made with Cabernet, it would easily be triple the price. I hate making aging predictions because who really knows how long a wine is going to last, but I can tell you that I bought a few bottles of this wine and I’m not going to check in on them until at least 2026 to see how they’re doing.

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