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Ravenswood Ravenswood 1997 Napa Valley Zinfandel ($14.99)
Ravenswood is one of the great names in Zinfandel, and their many single-vineyard bottlings command both respect and significant prices. This more basic bottling, although a step up from the firm's basic California "Vintner's Blend," was a bit disappointing, especially in comparison with my recent tasting of the less pricey but very appealing Cline 1998 California Zinfandel. I wouldn't reject it, though. Very dark garnet in color, it shows somewhat woody aromas of spicy oak and blackberries. Big berry fruit and oaky vanillins wrestle it out on the palate, with grapey fruit and sweet oak contending with somewhat lean and green qualities in the finish. (July 20, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Good match with grilled meat, specifically char-grilled strip steaks marinated in white wine and served with a light basil-saffron velouté.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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