Sunday, March 15, 2009
What a difference a day makes
A few days ago, I opened up this one, a 1996 Ridge Geyserville.
Now, as far as American wines go, I have a soft spot for Ridge. A glorious 1987 Ridge Monte Bello remains one of my most rapturous wine-tasting experiences. And not so long back, a 1999 Geyserville had impressed and astonished a group of friends who had never tasted the Zinfandel grape in their Gallic lives.
I was looking forward to trying one with a little more age, even, than that – which, while still young, had taken on a good openness, a suppleness, of nearly ten years.
But the 1996 was an animal of a different stripe.
Poured into the glass, it was inky dark. On the nose, very appealing. Ripe, spicy, with plums and dark fruit. I sipped it. Hrm. It seemed to lack elegance. It was tight, tannic, hard-nosed, with an off-putting raisiny note. Aggressive stuff, brawny and unbalanced.
I listlessly finished a glass, hoping with a little air it would improve. No dice.
As it was late, now, I left the bottle on the counter and went to sleep.
In the morning, walking into the kitchen, I saw that it had remained stranded, open, there, and mechanically put a cork in it.
At the end of the day, coming back with a bag full of food to prepare and a hankering for something white, I nevertheless looked at the 1996 Geyserville, which was still standing (with, as you'll note, streaks of disdained juice down its label like tears) on the counter. I uncorked it and poured a quarter of a glass.
Hey! This was more like it. Swirl, sniff: still that pretty nose. But now, on the palate, it had gotten very elegant. There was still a lurking little bit of overripe fruit to it, but otherwise, the pepper and dark cherry and meaty notes had coalesced into a very pleasant wine.
That, I would never have imagined. A small pleasure.