Ross Bott runs a tasting group that meets twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. The theme for this tasting was Ridge Zinfandels. There were two different wines from four vintages; 1978, 1983, 1985 and 1990. As usual the wines were poured blind, though we had a list of the wines beforehand. The wines were not decanted prior to serving.
The colours of the wines were all remarkably consistent; despite each one being at least 20-30 years old they still tended more towards garnet than brick.
A (1985 Geyserville) - Ranked 3rd overall, no first place votes
The nose was initially musty, though this faded with time. Notes of leather, with raspberry becoming increasingly evident as the mustiness faded.
Nice raspberry fruit, with the tannin and acidity well balanced, and a dry finish. Was fading a little by the end.
B (1985 Howell Mountain) - Ranked 4th overall, though it did receive 2 first place votes.
Rich, brambly nose with a herbal note
Bright red fruit - raspberry and cranberry, with an earthy 'old world' finish.
Held up well
C (1978 York Creek)- Ranked 2nd overall, with 1 first place vote.
Nose showed matchsticks, mushrooms and leather. Mature with flavours of black fruit, coffee, cola and strawberry. Some leather, and a long finish.
D (1990 Geyserville) - Ranked 7th overall.
The nose wasn't great (I wrote 'stinky') - earthy and leathery. There was some debate as to whether it was corked, but it was certainly flawed in some way. Some sweet, ripe, pruney fruit and what I took for brett on the finish
E (1990 Lytton Springs) - Wine of the night; only 4 tasters did not rate it #1 which is almost unheard of at an event like this.
Ripe fruit on the nose, with floral notes. Palate shows loads of rich, sweet fruit - blackcurrant and raspberry - and a long finish. An awesome wine; easily 95+ points.
The last three wines were all a bit disappointing. Unsurprisingly 2 of the 3 were from the weakest vintage: 1983.
F (1978 Langtry Road) Rated 6th overall, despite getting one first place vote.
If I hadn't known that all these wines were Zinfandels I'd have called this as a Petite Sirah. It does in fact contain 30% Petite Sirah as well as 10% Carignane; I think labelling rules were more flexible back then.
It had the darkest colour of all the wines; nose showed some barnyard and earth. There was some black fruit but this was dominated by some monster tannins.
Somewhat unyielding initially, though it did soften a little as time went on.
G (1983 Park-Muscatine, Howell Mountain) - Rated 8th
The nose was light, with floral, berry and smoky notes. On the palate there was some raspberry and bramble, but it was light, tart and tannic.
H (1983 Geyserville)
The earthy nose showed a 'porty' note. As with the previous wine (from the same vintage) it was light with some brambly fruit. Seemed a bit oxidized, though it still had some tannins left.
Afterwards we were treated to a delicious 1978 Dusi Late Harvest, with 10% residual sugar and 14.2% alcohol.
Colour of amber/tea.
Great mature nose with raspberry and port notes.
Great flavours of raspberry, coffee, cocoa, fig and dark chocolate backed by nice acidity. 94 points