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Professional Ratings: 96 Connoisseurs' Guide
Region: Sonoma County, California
Item no. 93794
"Led in the nose by lots of concentrated, well-ripened berry-like fruit and filled out by a full measure of caramelly oak and rich, root-beer spice, this big-bodied offering follows up with intense flavors that are similarly keyed on sweet oak and very deep fruit. Full and fleshy in feel, if a slight touch hot and roughed up by enough finishing tannin to warrant a few years of age, the wine is a convincing look at Zinfandel and stands out as one of the best from Ravenswood in some time."
California's Russian River means different things to different people. For the original natives, it was a life-giving cornucopia of fish, game, fruits and berries. For Russian trappers, it was a vast bank of sea-otter pelts. For the Americans who came later, it was a place of enormous redwoods, a prime spot for growing apples, finally a source of summertime inner-tube inspiration.
For wine buffs, it usually means cool-climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But away from the coast, the Russian River has a different character. From its source in the Mendocino County highlands, its whitewater tumbles down past Cloverdale into the Alexander Valley, then winds through the hills behind Healdsburg before passing north of Santa Rosa to assume its familiar, civilized role. It's in the unpeopled sector of central Sonoma County that Ravenswood's Big River Zinfandel is grown. Despite the notoriety that surrounds it to the north, south, east and west, this spot remains a world of its own—a still, silent, secret realm that almost seems like something from Tolkien, existing outside time.
Under the stewardship of Scott and Lynn Adams, Big River is the most meticulously farmed vineyard that Ravenswood has the privilege of using. It's not an exaggeration to say that it's coddled by two mothers: Nature and Nurture. Its grapes respond with healthy, exuberant flavors that, if anything, tip toward the inland direction of Alexander Valley: rich, ripe, soft, round, plush, plummy and spicy. It's an amalgam of attributes that gives new meaning to the term Russian River.