You see it time and time again. Siblings who are nothing alike. From eye color to food preferences, they could have come from totally different parents. Take the Winey Children for instance. The Winey Son is a winey mini-me. (OK, as much as a 6'3" kid can be called mini. Or me.) Line his baby pics up with mine and my Winey siblings and you'd think he was just one of us struggling to grow up in New Jersey in the 60's. Then there is the Winey Daughter. She is the Winey Hubby's mini-me. In fact, I would go as far to say that I simply served as the incubator for my husband's gene pool on this one. I know they are both ours, though, because they keep returning to this house demanding food, shelter, funds and and oh yeah, love.
But they differ in other ways as well. One loves olives. The other would rather eat bugs in Mexico. And has, for that matter. One is a country music devotee, the other wants to be Bob Dylan when he grows up. (May I suggest that he learn to sing like a goat first, though?) One has her grandmother's artistic talent. The other, well, not so much. I could go on and on.
I bring this up to lead you into my latest wine review. Two Old Vine Zinfandels from the same winery, but very different in taste. I received Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel and the Old Vine Zinfandel Vintners Blend courtesy of the kind folks at Ravenswood Winery in the Sonoma area of California. I knew enough to realize that one was from their "County" line and the other their "Vintners Blend" line (give me some credit, puhleeze). And they were different vintages. But really, how totally different could they be? Let me tell you, I found out.
Let's start with the 2010 Sonoma County Zin, (2010, 14.5%, CA) since that's the one I tried first. I have become a big fan of California Zins in recent years, and I was really looking forward to this one. It opened to my nose with aromas of faint spice. Nothing good, nothing bad...just there to sniff. The taste was of oak and black cherry. The spice showed up again, along with a hint of some dark green herbs such as oregano and thyme. I will say this, that for a wine with such a high alcohol content, it was amazingly balanced. Sometimes you'll get quite the hot feel from a big old Zin, but this one stayed true to its fruit and oaks. It finished. That's about it. Nothing spectacular or horrible. I didn't dislike it - I just kept waiting for more...more depth in the flavors, more aroma in my nose. It was not quite there though. (A friend sipping along with me agreed, by the way.) It might be interesting to note that this is a blend of Zinfandel (80%), Petite Sirah (9%), Syrah (6%),Carignane (4%) and 1% Mixed Blacks.
Now, let's visit the sibling, so to speak. This was the 2011 Vintner's Blend Old Vine Zinfandel (2011, 13.5%, CA). And as much as I don't like to favor one sibling over another, if the Winey Mom had to pick, this would be her Zin of choice. Here was the nose of sour cherry, dark spices and coffee. And the taste of mocha and coffee surrounded by some earth and herbs. The finish was mellow and earthy and the tannins were smooth and very supple. Now we were talking! I loved the fruit and the earthy, spicy depth here. And yes, it was a bit more "earthy" than some other Zins I've tried, but it was so very good. This too, is a blend of Zinfandel (75%), Petite Sirah (16%), Syrah (6%) and 3% "Mixed Blacks".
Just as with the Winey Children, you can put the same ingredients into a mix, albeit at different levels, and come out with two very different products. Thankfully, I am very happy with the outcomes of both of the Winey Children's mixes - two very funny, intelligent and caring young people who have the best mother in the world (Yeah, yeah, their Dad is pretty awesome, too).
As far as these two Ravenswood Zins, I will say that I am glad to have tried them both. But I am gonna play favorites here and go with the Vintners Blend. If you are a big red wine lover, you should play favorites too. But just with wine, not your kids!
I was sent these wines for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.