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.


Gregoire said...

Very evocative post. Geyservilles can be very fine drinks indeed.

Florida Jim said...

Its been maybe ten years ago, but I had a chance to taste through a line-up of 1960's Gevservilles. It was a small tasting here in central Florida put on by a guy who had bought virtually every bottling Ridge ever made.
So lets say that, at the time, they were 30-40 years old when we opened them.
I recall liking all of them but what I remember most is how much like mature Bordeaux they smelled and tasted. Complex as no zin. I had ever tried before and not at all the brambly, spicy wine I had come to think of as zin.
An experience to remember.
Best, Jim

David McDuff said...

Seems we share a similar soft spot, Sharon. Though I rarely drink Ridge any longer, I do have a mixture of their stuff in the cellar (from 95-98) that should make for a fun tasting a few years down the road.

Anonymous said...

Theres nothing better than a fabulous bottle of inky red wine.

Henri Vasnier said...

Perhaps (probably?) it's Paul Draper's particular influence, but Ridge wines have remained evocative and ageworthy as few other Californians, across the decades. The first California wines that really got my attention were Ridge 1970 Occidental and 1973 Geyserville, both of which were still fabulous at age quite a bit past ten. Ridge has apparently never made wines with attractiveness for immediate consumption as the number one goal; as a result, they have made many, many wines that were profound and emotionally inspiring at ages of several years to several decades. They are a world treasure.

EP said...

I'm very late in responding to this post as I just today have discovered your blog. And how much I love it! And while I usually would continue to anonymously quaff and anonymously read, I had to chime in on this post specifically for it is exactly what happened to me today. A bottle of Ridge Sonoma Three Valleys Zinfandel blend, opened last night and did not like at all - could not even finish the second glass. Dutifully gassed and corked for the night with the innate knowledge I wouldn't drink again but somehow pouring 2nd or 3rd day wine down the drain versus the night of makes me feel better. Gave it a second try tonight and yowsers! how pretty it had become! less tight and tinny - the fruit opened up and became racy. I double checked my bottle to make sure it wasn't a Cabernet. Zin? Really? 2 days old? Wow. I heart 2nd day Ridge. Who would've known.