We’ve recently been enjoying wines from Oak Ridge Winery in Lodi, California. For our throw down we’ll pit a 2012 Oak Ridge Old Vine Zinfandel at a cost of about $14 against their 2011 Reserve Zinfandel which costs $24. Our goal is to see if we can taste a $10 difference.
The $14 Zinfandel exhibits a deep purple color in the glass. By comparison, the Reserve Zin appears brick red providing the first clue that the Reserve is oaked. Both Zins have a bold aroma of dark fruits on the nose however, the Reserve has added layers of vanilla and spice. At first tasting, the $14 Zin holds its own with luscious blackberry and currants, but after several sips, the Reserve begins to pull ahead with a richer mouth-feel, fruit intensity, spice and layers of complexity. After several sips of the Reserve, the $14 Zin tastes thinner and more acidic. Both Zins offer a fairly long finish but only the Reserve presents nice soft tannins.
At first tasting, we thought that the Reserve with its $24 price point would only win by a nose. By the end of our first (or second) glass it was clear that although the 2012 Oak Ridge Old Vine Zinfandel tastes fine for the price, the 2011 Oak Ridge Reserve Zinfandel is worth the extra $10.
The Oak Ridge Reserve bottle explains their “artistic orchestration of fruit and cooperage”. Grapes are sourced from Maggio and Reynolds vineyards. Seventy percent is barrel aged for 18 months in French and American oak. The remaining 30% stays in stainless to maintain the bright berry character.