Recently I sat down with Joel Peterson, founder and longtime winemaker of Ravenswood Winery, to taste through the winery’s new single-vineyard releases and chat a bit about Zinfandel in general.
The new releases are from the 2013 vintage, “a pretty glorious year,” as Peterson put it. “Very even weather, and a long end to the season that was warm without being hot. As opposed to this year,” he added, referring to 2015, “which was just total mayhem as a winemaker.”
About Zinfandel in general, Peterson has noted a pull-back from the super-ripe styles of the ’90s and ’00s. “Take Turley,” he said. “The wines they were famous for in the ’90s were 17 percent alcohol, five to six grams residual sugar, incredibly oaky. A lot of people were making that sort of Zinfandel. Now, Turley’s wines are at 14 to 15 percent—basically where I’ve always been, which is when the grapes are ripe but not overripe when you pick them, and you let the wine ferment to its natural level. Wines like that are fresher, brighter, have more longevity and are more interesting to drink. You get more expression of the place where they’re grown, and they’re just less syrupy.”