A Ridge Vineyard Retrospective Tasting<br> <br> Highly-regarded UC/Riverside particle physicist and wine collector Bipin<br>Desai organized recently (Feb 5-6-7) the most comprehensive vertical tasting<br>ever held of the many wines from Ridge Vnyds. Because of the timing (right<br>after ZAP and just before a big competition), I had planned not to go; even <br>though Ridge is probably my favorite winery & I've followed their wines for<br>nearly 30 yrs; I was very disappointed to say the least. However, in early<br>January I received an invitation to go as a special guest and decided it was<br>too good an opportunity to pass up. So... if I finish in the bottom half of the<br>Nick Toth Tournament next weekend; I now have an excuse!<br> The Friday night dinner was at Spago w/ the cusine from Wolfgang's Chinois<br>restaurant and focused on some of the more unusual (esoteric was the term used)<br>Ridge wines, mostly Zins. Saturday's lunch was at Valentino's and was a very<br>comprehensive vertical of Geyserville Zins, w/ a few Lytton Springs. And<br>Saturday's lunch was again at Spago's w/ the biggies; Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet.<br>Winemaker Paul Draper was in attendance & offered comments at all three events.<br> I had never met Bipin before but knew well of him from many writeups in<br>various wine publications of the huge vertical tastings he holds from time to<br>time. But I knew he had to be an OK guy... he's a physicist!! And I must say I was<br>quite taken by him. Quiet, very gracious, very charming, very sharing (all the<br>things most physicists I know are not!!) and very well organized. You have to<br>be to pull off such an event as this. I can only guess at the amount of work he<br>had put in aforehand to bring it all together. Truly, he is a first-class gentleman.<br>And this an event that will never be repeated. Alas.<br> I was pretty apprehensive about attending this event because I knew there would<br>be a lot of high-end collectors here and I expected a lot of stuft-shirt types <br>to be there... not the kind of crowd I usually hang out with. Tom Hill in Beverly<br>Hills..... not an image that would come to most people's mind!!<br> There were some pretty heavy-hitters there, including Stephen Spurrier, Serena <br>Sutcliffe, and Frank Prial to name a few. But wine-snobs & stuft-shirts.... not to <br>be found. It was an absolutely amazing group of folks; very friendly, trading ideas<br>and opinions and thoughts; all brought together by their common passion over Ridge <br>wines. I never cease to be amazed at how the name "Ridge Vnyds" always brings up an <br>out-pouring of warm feelings amongst wine lovers (Kay-Moose should be so lucky). <br>That was in abundant evidence at this weekend's events. <br> The format was to have five flights of six wines each, matched with the five<br>courses. So, 30 wines with each event. There were no spit buckets obviously <br>available, so I had serious concerns about my "functionality" towards the end of <br>each tasting. It turned out to not be a problem. Spread out over 5 hours time, with<br>food, and not drinking all of some of the older or lesser wines, I found my note-<br>taking skills held up well throughout. <br> A really nice touch to the whole event was the bound notebooks Bipin provided<br>to all the attendees. It contained the list of the wines, the participants, and<br>ample room to take notes. Definitely a first class operation Bipin runs!!<br> Between each flight, Paul usually got up and made a few comments on the nature<br>of each yr's harvest and some background on the wines. I found this really helpful<br>in picking out things in the wines that I might have overlooked. And such background<br>knowledge always adds something to the intelluctual pleasure of a wine. And then<br>Bipin would introduce someone special to the group and ask them to make some<br>comments on the previous flight of wines. This, too, added a different perspective<br>on the wines and helped me in picking up other nuances in the wines.<br> The seating was at tables of 5-6 people, assigned in advance by Bipin. This<br>worked extraordinarily well as it eliminated much of the milling about looking for<br>seats and jockeying around for "more favored" seats. And the tables were small<br>enough that you could comfortably carry on conversations with everyone at table.<br> The wines were served progressing from the oldest to the youngest, at Paul's<br>suggestion, orthogonal to the normal way. I much preferred this ordering as it<br>allowed one to focus one's intellect on the early and more complex wines, and then<br>savor the younger more sensual wines that were already old friends.<br> Behind the scenes, there was a remarkable logistic operation taking place. Huge<br>tables w/ glasses carefully lined up, all marked w/ a small tape identifying the<br>wine on the base. The wines would be decanted, poured into the waiting glasses, until<br>all 6 wines in a flight were poured, and then taken out to the tables. The operation<br>worked like a well-oiled machine, very little sediment in the old wines and they<br>always came out to the tables just before the food. Were these people generals in <br>the US Army, we would never have to worry about losing the next war!!<br> So, all in all, it was the most incredible of weekends, totally immersed in Ridge<br>Vnyds. Great food, great wine, and the most special of friends... exactly what it's<br>all about.<p> Friday, Feb 5<br> Up early & into work about 4:00am to squeeze in a half day's work. Thirty minutes <br>of hoops, clean up, pack bags, and off to the Albq airport, with the usual stop at<br>Sage BakeHouse in SantaFe for a badly needed double espresso. The epee blade makes<br>it thru security w/o a hitch, disguised as a gamma-ray interferometer transponder<br>antenna. However, the X-ray showing the orthopedic/pistol grip for the epee catches<br>their attention & they ask to inspect my carry-on bag, since it looks a bit like a<br>small derringer pistol. They are mollified w/ my explanation that it's a special<br>toilet flush handle for severely arthiritic patients that I've invented! Catch a<br>lot of ZZZZ's on the flight into LAX. <br> Grab my rental car, head up to Santa Monica, and check into the BestWestern. <br>Assemble the epee and go down into the underground parking garage for some fencing<br>drills. Apparently, the security TV monitor catches me excuting flesche attacks on<br>the concrete pillar, as a security guard comes down to see why someone is <br>vandalizing their garage, fearful, I guess, that I'd attack their guests. If I were<br>going to damage a concrete pillar or attack people, a practice epee would certainly<br>NOT be my weapon of choice! He's satisfied that I'm totally harmless, if a little<br>weird. Clean up & change for the night's dinner, read a bit, and then off to Spago. <br> Arrive in plenty of time for the 6:00 pm dinner, but, upon reviewing the schedule<br>note that it doesn't start until 8:00pm. So take a stroll down Canon Dr and then<br>catch a little shut-eye in my car. <br> Return to Spago at the correct time. The entrance/bar area is loaded with<br>Hollywood/Beverly Hills/beautiful people-types and I know I'm exactly in my milieu!!<br>But, alas, I'm directed back to the private dining room that's occupied by nothing<br>but wine- types. Finally get to meet Bipin Desai, a true gentleman in every <br>sense of the word. We chat a bit about physics and his work. Turns out my Laboratory<br>director had been out to visit his physics department a few weeks before, so Bipin<br>already knew a bit about me. <br> At the entrance table to the dining room stands an attractive young lady, supplying<br>sticky-name tags; whom I expect everyone had dismissed as a Hollywood air-head type<br>there to gussy up the scene. When I notice the "Caitlin" on her nametag, I know<br>immediately that it's Paul's daughter, a sophomore at Occidental College there in<br>LA. So I introduce myself and visit with her for awhile. I was quite impressed; a<br>very charming and very poised young lady. Then mingle a bit w/ a few others there<br>in the bar area outside the private dining room. Immediately recognize Stephen<br>Spurrier, Decanter magazine writer and noted wine persona, and Frank Prial, of the<br>NY Times. Notice a few other familiar faces but can't dredge up their names. Paul<br>then arrives w/ Serena Sutcliffe, another British wine writer. Visit w/ Paul a bit,<br>whom I hadn't seen since the week before at ZAP. <br> We are directed into the dining room to our tables. I find that I've been seated <br>beside Stephen Spurrier. It was one of my highlights of the weekend; an extremely<br>knowledgeable wine person, of course. I start soliciting his opinions on California<br>wines and am quite surprised on how abreast of the scene he is. On the Calif/Rhone<br>area, he is pretty much on top of all the movers & shakers, only a few he'd not<br>heard of. I was amazed to catch him taking notes on some of the things I was saying<br>about Calif/Rhones. Also sitting at my table is Bipin, so I get a much better<br>chance to become acquainted with him.<br> This set of wines was titled "The Diverse & Esoteric", a sort of over-view of<br>some of the lesser-known wines of Ridge. The menu was based on Wolfgang Puck's<br>cusine from his Chinoise restaurant:<br> <br> Sweet Shrimp Tempura w/ Ginger Chinese Mustard Glaze<br> Crispy Crab Springrolls "Sweet & Sour"<br> Thai Beef Lollipops w/ Roasted Peanut Sauce<br> Potstickers w/ Hoisin Glaze<br> <br> Seared Maine Lobster w/ Ginger Black Bean Sauce,<br> Jasmine Rice (served in a cute Chinese take-out box) & Emerald Leaves<br> <br> Grilled Chino Lamb Chop w/ Cilantro Mint Vinaigrette &<br> Szechuan Green Beans<br> <br> Tea-Smoked Breast of Squab & Minced Squab in Lettuce Cup w/<br> Salted Cashews<br> <br> Bitter Almond Souffle w/ Mandarin Sorbet<br> <br>Across the board, it was a stunning dinner w/ all the wines going very well with<br>each dish. In particular, the minced squab w/ the Petite Sirahs was genuis.<br> <br>And the wines:<p>1. Ridge SantaCruzMtns Chard '79: Slightly oxidized/resiny some earthy/dusty<br> pungent/oak light melony/fruit nose; tart bit tired some oxidized/pungent<br> resiny dusty/earthy flavor<br>2. Ridge SantaCruzMtns Chard '95: Slight pungent/reduced some pineapply/melony light<br> oaked nose; tart earthy/lean/hard SCM Chard light pungent/oak flavor<br>3. Ridge SantaCruzMtns Chard '96: Pleasant fragrant melony light oaked nose; rather<br> lush pineapply noticible dusty/earthy/SCM some graham cracker/oak flavor<br> <br>4. Ridge SantaCruzMtn Merlot '91: Bit closed/dusty/pungent some black cherry nose;<br> fairly hard/closed/dusty spicy/black cherry/cola flavor w/ ample tannins;<br> needs age yet.<br>5. Ridge SantaCruzMtn Merlot '92: Big lush fragrant slightly herbal rather black <br> cherry/cola some smokey/oak nose; softer fairly lush/black cherry/cola rather<br> earthy/dusty light herbal flavor; needs a few more yrs.<br>6. Ridge SantaCruzMtn Merlot '93: Fragrant some herbal/olive lush black cherry/cola/<br> Dr.Pepper some spicy/cinammon/cloves nose; tart bit lean dusty/earthy black<br> cherry/cola sligt herbal light oaked/pungent flavor; needs 2-6 yrs age.<p>7. Ridge Morgan Hill Barbera '77: Slight gunpowder/pungent/smokey some earthy/dusty<br> bit tired nose; soft earthy/plummy/grapey/dusty slight bretty/horsecollar<br> bit tired flavor; a bit on the thin & tired side but still some life here<br> and rather interesting; still has that CentralCoast plummy character.<br>8. Ridge Whitten Ranch Carignan '92: Strong black cherry/bing cherry/cherry cola/<br> Dr.Pepper/dusty old vine some pungent/smokey oaked nose; hard tannic very strong<br> black cherry/plummy/cherry/cola rather tart/hard flavor w/ fair tannins; needs<br> 3-8 yrs age.<br>9. Ridge Lytton Estate Grenache '96: Rather lush/fragrant/floral/very strawberry/<br> Grenache nose; soft lush bit flat fragrant/floral/strawberry/Grenach flavor<br> w/ a bit of tannins; lovely nose but would like a bit more richness & extract<br> on the palate.<br>10. Ridge Bridgehead Mataro '96: Wonderful plummy/Mourvedre/ContrCosta dome dusty/<br> earthy bit milk-of-magnesia nose; soft lush complex plummy/earthy flavors w/<br> light tannins; a great drinking red.<br>11. Ridge Lytton Estate Syrah '96: Rather milky/Am.oaked some plummy/gamey light<br> blackberry/Syrah nose; tart milky/Am.oaked some gamey/Syrah/berry flavor; the<br> oak seems really dominating in this wine tonight.<br>12. Ridge Jimsomare Zin '70: Med.strong old Zin/cigar box/tobaccoy rather tired/<br> dried out nose; tart dried-out earthy/lean mostly tobaccoy/cigar box/pungent/<br> old Zin flavor; an intellectual experience, not unpleasant but doesn't <br> deliver much on the palate.<p>13. Ridge LyttonSprings Zin '74: Strong old Zin/cigar box/tobaccot/somewhat tired<br> slight bretty/horsecollar nose; strong tart cigar box/tobaccoy/charred/smokey/<br> old Zin rather dried out flavor; pretty tired Zin; a bottle I had the week<br> before was pretty similar.<br>14. Ridge LyttonSprings Zin '76: Strong old Zin/cigar box/tobaccoy slight black-<br> berry/plummy nose; elegant complex light blackberry/plummy some tobaccoy/cigar<br> box/old Zin flavor; very smooth & elegant w/ some fruit still there; on the<br> the downhill slide but still a good balance of sensual & intellectual.<br>15. Ridge LyttonSprings Zin '90: Very strong blackberry/blueberry rich dusty/old<br> vines some oaked nose; soft lush rich blackberry/spicy some dusty/complex<br> flavor; really great drinking lush sensual Zin.<br>16. Ridge LyttonSprings Zin '91: Attractive some oaked/blackberry bit weaker nose;<br> soft fairly lush raspberry/blackberry some buttery/oaked flavor; a bit weaker <br> than the '90 or '93.<br>17. Ridge LyttonSprings Zin '93: Beautiful lush blackberry/raspberry complex fragrant <br> slight volatile/perfumed nose; very strong lush/blackberry/raspberry some complex/<br> oaked flavor; a lovely sensual Zin.<br>18. Ridge LyttonSprings Zin '95: Bright forward raspberry/blackberry light oaked<br> spicy bit dusty nose; bit tart/lean spicy raspberry/blackberry flavor; needs<br> some age yet.<p>19. Ridge YorkCreek PetiteSirah '71: Very dark color; very intense Am.oaked/dusty/<br> earthy peppery very perfumy/smokey/pungent complex nose; beautiful lively<br> dusty/earthy/peppery/smokey/pungent/complex very perfumed/fragrant flavor w/<br> some tannins yet; loads of Am.oak but very well integrated w/ the peppery<br> character; an absolutely incredible wine in marvelous condition.<br>20. Ridge YorkCreek PetiteSirah '75: Deeper more earthy/dusty classic PS/peppery/<br> licorice some Am.oaked nose; soft bit clunky peppery/some black cherry fairly<br> lush some oaked finish w/ some tannins; a bit on the clunky & not the<br> complexity of the '71 but still lots of life yet.<br>21. Ridge YorkCreek PetiteSirah '85: Strange chlorine some clunky/chocolaty/peppery<br> bit bretty Am.oaked nose; tart hard tannic light peppery some oaked/bretty<br> flavor w/ some tannins; seems a bit tired & clunky & not going anywhere at all.<br>22. Ridge YorkCreek PetiteSirah '90: More fragrant peppery/PS aromatic/dusty some<br> Am.oaked nose; tart rather hard/tannic peppery/spicy/licorice some oaked<br> flavor; needs much age; best of the young PSs.<br>23. Ridge YorkCreek PetiteSirah '91: Strong milky/Am.oaked some peppery/spicy/PS<br> nose; soft bit clunky strong milky/Am.oaked some peppery/PS flavor; needs some<br> age but a bit clunky.<br>24. Ridge YorkCreek PetiteSirah '95: Fragrant spicy/peppery/PS some blackberry<br> rather perfumed/oaked nose; softer lush spicy/peppery some blackberry rather<br> pungent/oaked flavor w/ ample tannins; will be a keeper; seems to have softer/<br> rounder tannins than the other ones. Very well made Petite.<p>25. Ridge Occidental LateHrvst Zin '70: Very intense lush pungent/licorice/tarry/<br> charred/toasty/smokey bit volatile/perfumey very complex nose w/ only a slight<br> old Zin/tobaccoy character; tart hard tannic dried-out some licorice/pungent/<br> complex/smokey dusty/earthy flavor; a beautiful complex nose but rather dried<br> out on the palate; sensual nose but an intellectual experience in the mouth.<br>26. Ridge Geyserville Zin LateHrvst '77: Very ripe blackberry/plummy/boysenberry<br> loads of fruit slight volatile/aromatic some complex nose; intense blackberry/<br> boysenberry some dried out/tannic flavor; still loads of very ripe blackberry<br> fruit but drying out a bit on the palate; very similar to the one I had a few<br> weeks before; drink up.<br>27. Ridge LyttonEstate LateHrvst Zin '92: Very intense grapey/blackberry/boysenberry<br> some overripe/jammy/sweetish nose; very sweet intense blackberry/jammy/<br> boysenberry young/fruity/grapey bit overripe flavor; quite ripe but not<br> raisened or pruney; still a quite young wine & will probably go for 10-15 yrs.<br>28. Ridge Zin Essence (Lodi) '68: Very complex/earthy/Lodi/dusty very raisened/<br> pruney/mincemeat pie/plum pudding bit smokey nose; off-dry very classic/Lodi/<br> earthy/dusty raisened/mince meat pie rather complex flavor; lots of Lodi<br> character but a wonderfully interesting wine; you CAN make a silk ear from<br> a sow's purse!<br>29. Ridge Zin Essence (PasoRobles) '78: Intense overripe/raisened plummy/blackberry/<br> jammy bit volatile some pencilly/oaked nose; very sweet very raisened/pruney<br> some blackberry/jammy complex bit dusty flavor; lots of overripe character but<br> seems to be maturing fairly rapidly.<br>30. Ridge Zin Essence (PasoRobles) '93: Very intense PasoRobles/jammy/blackberry/<br> boysenberry/cassis bit volatile/perfumey/aromatic nose; very sweet very intense<br> PasoRobles/blackberry/boysenberry/cassis/jammy flavor; pure essence of blackberry<br> fruit; lots of ripeness but not raisened or pruney; terrific dessert Zin, maybe<br> Ridge's best Essence yet.<p> And for Friday's bloody pulpit:<br>1. Ridge has never been noted for their Chardonnays, which is rather unfortunate<br> I feel. SantaCruzMtn Chards tend to have a distinct rather lean/hard/dusty/<br> earthy character to them that doesn't appeal to many Chard drinkers. The early<br> Ridge Chards had that character in spades. The recent ones have much more classic<br> Chard fruit to them but still that SCM character underneath. The early ones I<br> did not care for when I first started tasting them. In one visit to the Ridge,<br> I commented to Dave Bennion that his whites need work to compare w/ their Zins.<br> Dave took that as a personal challenge and started pulling older Chard, Riesling,<br> and Sylvaner from the cellar. With some age on them, they turned into wonderful,<br> complex, very interesting wines. He made his case; end of discussion!<br>2. I had not paid much attention to the Ridge Merlots before.... Merlot is Merlot,<br> a variety I find singularly uninteresting (at least from Calif), with only a<br> few exceptions. These wines were real eye-openers for me. These, folks, are<br> very serious Merlots. Not quite as multi-faceted as the MonteBello Cabs; they<br> still have that pungent/smokey/dusty character that shouts MonteBello Ridge.<br> I certainly would not call them "lesser" wines than the MonteBello Cab.<br>3. For all the folks at my table, the Carignane was the real eye-opener for them.<br> I've always liked the Ridge Carignanes, but find them pretty hard & tough in<br> their youth. But w/ some age, they turn in to some very lovely floral/cherry<br> kind of wine. Ridge probably does better w/ Carignane than any other wnry in<br> the world. Hardly what you'd expect from a "lesser" grape.<br>4. Again, for most of the folks at my table, this was their first exposure to<br> Ridge Mataro/Mourvedre. I always find this to be a really tasty, good-drinking<br> Ridge red. I don't think it has the bigness and structure some of the better<br> Calif Mourvedres show from cooler areas. But certainly that plummy/ContraCosta<br> character shows thru. Which is alright; every Ridge doesn't have to be a big,<br> blockbuster of an ager. It's a good drink red that they are able to get some<br> wonderful/complex/old vine flavors from.<br>5. This set of LyttonSprings Zins showed quite well, I thought. I've thought the<br> LS since the '90 have been a bit weaker & simpler, more straightforward/<br> raspberry fruit than the '90 or earlier ones. The '91 & '93 didn't particularly<br> show that here. The unreleased '97 is, I felt at ZAP, the best LS Ridge has<br> made since the '90.<br>6. Petite Sirah is one of my least favorite Calif red wines. I find them often too<br> soft/fat/underacid clumsey/clunky little fruit tannic but unstructured; a <br> Pillsbury DoughBoy kind of wine. They seem to lack that high-toned fruit I like<br> in a red. Good blending material but not attractive on its own. Ridge has always<br> been one of my favorites. A bit more forward fruit that most; they have a hard/<br> tannic structure to them that begs for more age. The '71 YorkCreek PS was one of<br> my first Calif Petites I had & I fell in love w/ that wine. It was loaded w/<br> oak from the start & it still has a lot of oak; but the oak really works well<br> w/ the peppery fruit. This '71 is in incredible shape and will probably last <br> another 10 yrs. Yet it has a complexity that you never find in mature Calif<br> Petite. I regard this '71 has one of the greatest red wines ever made in Calif;<br> truly a wine of epic proportions. And it's Petite Sirah!!<br>7. The '70 Occidental was to me pretty typical of old Zinfandel wines. They often<br> have a beautiful complex cigar box/cedary nose but are hard & tannic & dried<br> out on the palate & don't deliver what the nose promises. In rare cases, the<br> tannins seem to resolve and the wine will be a lovely complex elegant delicate<br> wine on the palate. Doesn't seem to happen too often, though.<br> <br> So, an incredible start to what became a pretty incredible weekend. As we all<br>start to leave somewhear after midnight, I feel compelled to tell Paul how<br>mightly impressed I was with the '71 YorkCreek. He agrees. Leave Spago in great<br>condition for having 30 wines; coming from 8,000' elevation to sea level helps a<br>lot in that department. Return to the motel in SantaMonica & crash.<p> Saturdayday, Feb 6<br> Up fairly early, but to gloomy/cloudy skies & some dampness, so no hoops this<br>morning. Down to the parking garage for some fencing drills, grab an espresso down<br>in downtown SantaMonica. Read thru the morning's LATimes, what a refreshing change <br>to read a good newspaper in the morning. Make some notes, some calls home, and then<br>off for today's lunch.<br> This event is held a Valentino in SantaMonica and is to focus on a pretty<br>comprehensive vertical of Geyserville Zin w/ a few Lytton Springs thrown in for<br>comparison. I arrive a bit early and visit a bit w/ Rod Smith, Bay area writer for<br>Wine & Spirit magazine. And then, in loo of Jim Clendenen, I notice Jim Adelman,<br>winemaker at ABC/Qupe/etc, so I visit w/ him a bit. He compliments me on my <br>Raisin'Rhones'98 trip report and that everyone there at the winery enjoyed reading.<br>So I find out it was tied up on a string and hung in the head there at the<br>winery!! So much for being a famous author!!<br> Today, I'm seated at a table w/ Paul Draper; Mike Lonsford, a wine writer from<br>the Houston area; Fumiko Arisaka, probably the foremost Japanese wine writer who<br>flew in just for this event; Ed Lazarus, founding editor of The Underground Wine <br>Newsletter; and Earl Singer of Connoisseurs Guide (their upside-down glass pan of<br>the latest Pagani Zin '96 did not come up; but I'd already raised hell w/ Charlie<br>Olken at ZAP about it.... their description of the wine sounded like Pagani Zin<br>is supposed to taste & smell).<br> At the start of the event, Paul spoke a bit on the Geyserville vnyd & its back-<br>ground. The are propogating a new Old clone vnyd there of three clones: the Pichetti<br>clone; the Heart's Desire from the Geyserville vnyd; and the Mendocino clone<br>from the DuPratt-DuPattie vnyd. He comments that because of it isolation; the<br>Mendocino clone from this vnyd is incredible clean & virus-free for such an old vnyd.<p> Piero Selvaggio's special menu for today's lunch is: <br> <br> Curried Scallops Piccanti in Bruschetta <br> Ligurian Cuttlefish w/ Caramelized Beets and Bottarga<br> Sanails & Funghi Lasagna w/ Fontina<br> Herb Crusted Duck Breast w/ Olive Pate & Escarole<br> Lamb Ossobuco w/ Gremolata & Sardinian fregola<br> Pecorino di Fossa & Hazelnut Honey<br> i Cannoli <br> <br>And the wines:<br>1. Ridge Geyserville '70: Some fresh fruit/blackberry bit licorice/pungent/dusty/<br> peppery fairly complex nose; tart bit dried out cranberry some old Zin/tobaccoy<br> some complex astringent flavor; lovely complex nose but rather dried out & <br> tited on the palate.<br>2. Ridge Occidental Main Harvest '70: Slight musty/corked rather dusty/earthy bit<br> complex nose; hard tart dried out dusty/earthy slight tobaccoy flavor; the<br> corkiness clears a bit into a pretty attractive complex/tobaccoy/cedary nose;<br> very good nose but dried out & tired on the palate; this was my seminal Ridge<br> Zin experience so a bit disappointed it didn't hold up longer; but it did good<br> in its time and sure hooked me on Ridge.<br>3. Ridge Geyserville '72: Rather tobaccoy/old Zin somewhat bretty/horsecollar dusty/<br> earthy light blackberry nose; tart some dried out light blackberry rather<br> bretty/horsecollar flavor; bit unclean & on the tired side.<br>4. Ridge LyttonSprings '72: Beautiful very fragrant/peppery/spicy/some blackberry<br> very complex nose; soft smooth round some blackberry/raspberry very spicy/<br> complex flavor; in great shape & a very good example of a Zin that has<br> matured very well.<br>5. Ridge Geyserville '73: Beautiful lush rather blackberry/spicy dusty/old vines<br> verycomplex some tobaccoy/cedary nose; dusty/old vine soft tobaccoy/cedary<br> light blackberry rather complex flavor; lovely nose & slight signs of drying<br> out on the palate; last bottle I had of this, my alltime favorite Ridge Zin,<br> it seemed pretty tired & far gone; this bottle still had some life in it.<br>6. Ridge LyttonSprings '73: Rather peppery/spicy/licorice some complex/cedary nose; <br> bit chalky light blackberry bit dried out/astringent some cedary/complex/<br> peppery flavor; very nice nose but drying out on the palate.<p>7. Ridge Geyserville '74: Beautiful spicy/complex/meaty some perfumed/plummy/<br> smokey very complex nose; soft very lush blackberry/blueberry some smokey/<br> pungent rather complex flavor; great drinking & one of the best of the old Zins.<br>8. Ridge LyttonSprings '74: Beautiful lush blackberry bit Mosel valve oil/appely<br> rather complex nose; tart rather lean dried out bit musty/metallic some<br> blackberry/earthy flavor; very nice nose but drying out on the palate.<br>9. Ridge Geyserville '75: Slight corked/musty rather chocolaty/licorice/peppery light<br> blackberry nose; tart very spicy/plummy peppery/complex light pencilly flavor;<br> a very nice fully mature Geyserville.<br>10. Ridge LyttonSprings '75: only 11.7% alcohol: very plummy/blackberry/ripe spicy/<br> peppery some oaked/complex nose; bit tart dried-out metallic spicy rather lean/<br> hard flavor; very good nose but doesn't deliver on the palate.<br>11. Ridge Geyserville '76: Pungent smokey/oaked dusty bit funky/Geyserville nose;<br> light funky/complex smokey/pungent bit minty rather Alicante/dusty flavor;<br> in very good shape & showing the classic Geyserville funkiness.<br>12. Ridge LyttonSprings '76: Beautiful complex toasty/smokey/pungent very spicy <br> almost Rhone-like dusty nose; rich complex very Rhone-like/spicy/peppery<br> pungent/smokey very complex flavor; a very exotic wine very unlike old Zin.<p>13. Ridge Geyserville '77 Late Picked, 16.2% alcohol: bit funky/bretty smokey/<br> plummy/licorice complex some tobaccoy/Old Zin some blackberry/very ripe nose;<br> rather lean dried-out bit hot/alcoholic some old Zin/tobaccoy/complex flavor;<br> lots of ripe character but a bit shakey on the palate.<br>14. Ridge Geyserville '78 Late Picked: Very strong plummy/blackberry/smokey/oaked<br> complex almost Burgundian/toasty/pungent nose; tart spicy bit lean/dried-out<br> tobaccoy/complex/old Zin flavor; very nice nose but drying out on the palate.<br>15. Ridge Geyserville '79: Very fragrant plummy/blackberry lots of high-toned fruit<br> spicy fairly complex nose; bit tart/lean/dried-out some plummy/blackberry <br> flavor; starting to dry out some.<br>16. Ridge Geyserville '80: Intense young rather blackberry/plummy bit metallic/valve<br> oil/high-toned/raspberry some Am.oaked/complex nose; fairly rich/blackberry/plummy <br> some oaked/licorice/plummy complex flavor; lots of the Geyserville funky character;<br> in great shape & a delight to drink.<br>17. Ridge Geyserville '81: Slight bretty/funky/horsecollar dusty/blackberry/pungent<br> nose; tart/hard/rather lean rather funky/bretty/horsecollar flavor; seems one<br> of the lesser Geyservilles.<br>18. Ridge Geyserville '84: very strong plummy/blackberry ripe/lush some oaked/complex<br> nose; tart very rich plummy/blackberry bit funky/dusty cranberry some Carignane/<br> black cherry flavor; very interesting Geyserville in great shape.<p>19. Ridge Geyserville '85: Classic plummy/blackberry/ripe fruit bit pungent/smokey<br> rather complex more Carignane/black cherry nose; tart bright cranberry/Carignane/<br> black cherry spicy/pungent flavor; seems to be Carignane-dominated; in great<br> shape.<br>20. Ridge Geyserville '86: Beautiful perfumed/exotic/aromatic/plummy/blackberry<br> dusty/old vine complex nose; rich spicy lush exotic/perfumed blackberry/plummy<br> some oaked dusty/old vine flavor; bir rich lush classic Geyserville.<br>21. Ridge Geyserville '87: Slight bretty smokey/oaked/plummy/blackberry/licorice<br> complex nose; soft rather bretty/horsecollar slight dried-out/lean some<br> blackberry flavor; lovely complex nose but drying-out a bit on the palate.<br>22. Ridge Geyserville '88: Lots of bright raspberry/fruit forward/lush high-toned<br> cranberry nose; fairly tart bright forward spicy/cranberry high-toned slight<br> pungent/oaked flavor; lost of bright forward spicy fruit; lots of Carignane.<br>23. Ridge Geyserville '89: More typical funky earthy/dusty lush blackberry some<br> pungent/oaked nose; soft lush forward blackberry/raspberry some dusty/oaky<br> flavor; good Geyserville/blackberry fruit bit a slight hollowness to the<br> structure; much better shape than any '89's of late I've had.<br>24. Ridge Geyserville '90: Very strong Am.oaked slight milky ripe lush blackberry<br> pungent/dusty/old vine rather complex nose; soft big ripe lush blackberry/<br> plummy dusty/old vine slight Geyserville/funky complex flavor; a classic<br> lovely Geyserville in wonderful shape.<p>25. Ridge Geyserville '91: soft lush/blackberry dusty/earthy some pungent/oaked/<br> funky/complex nose; big soft round lush plummy/blackberry dusty/old vine some<br> pungent/oaked flavor; much like the '90 but a bit harder.<br>26. Ridge Geyserville '92: rich classic Geyserville bit more ooked slight bretty<br> nose; rich round lush Geyserville more oaked/bretty flavor.<br>27. Ridge Geyserville '93: beautiful lush blackberry Geyserville; bit leaner & harder.<br>28. Ridge Geyserville '94: soft rich lush blackberry classic Geyserville<br>29. Ridge Geyserville '95: bit more Am.oak, slight bretty/horsecollar character<br>30. Ridge Geyserville '96: more bright raspberry fruit, bit leaner & harder but one<br> of the more successful '96 Zins made.<p>31. Ridge PasoRobles Zin Essence '78: bit oxidized very raisened/pruney/late harvesty<br> slight alcoholic nose; tart fairly sweet rather raisened/pruney/overripe<br> flavor; not that rich lush blackberry character of the '93. <p> And for Saturday's bloody pulpit:<br>1. What an incredible set of Zinfandels to taste. In the last/young flight; they<br> had so much similarity that it was hard to pick out much differences; they were...<br> just classic Geyservilles; loads of blackberry fruit w/ just that hint of what<br> I call Geyserville funkiness; a complex and lack of purity of Zinfandel fruit<br> that obviously comes from the terrior and the other varieties. <br> The young Geyservilles are just extraordinaryily lush sensual wines to drink.<br> I see no reason that these, too, will not carry for 10-15 yrs. At around 10 yrs<br> of age, the Geyservilles start to show their differences amongst the vintages.<br> Those from the '80's were all in wonderful shape, still had the sensual fruit<br> to them, but were starting to show more of their interesting/intelluctual<br> character. And those from the '70's were classic examples of old Zins. Showing<br> that old Zin/tobaccoy/cedary character in the nose w/ lots of complexity; they<br> don't always deliver on the palate what the nose promises.... interesting<br> intelluctual experiences but not great sensual experiences. Yet all of them were,<br> I thought, in remarkably good shape and none I would through out.<br> So after tasting 24 different Geyservilles, one would think that, at last, I <br> "know" Geyserville Zin. Probably not. My guess is that Geyserville is a wine that's<br> going to continue to evolve and, I would guess, 10 yrs from now the Geyserville '08<br> will be a somewhat different Geyserville than we've all come to know and love;<br> and undoubtedly "better" in some sense.<br>2. The older Lytton Springs from the '70's seem to be holding up much better than<br> I originally expected them to. The Lyttons from the middle '90's ('92-'95)<br> seemed to me to be not as big & rich as the Geyservilles. The '96 and, certainly,<br> the '97 seem, to me, back up there w/ the Geyserville & Pagani in quality.<p> Again, the wines went extraordinarily well w/ the food; some of the best Italian<br>food I'd ever had. An unbelievable afternoon. <br> Head up to the Wine House just off Pico. A terrific selection of wines. Wind up<br>buying 2 cases worth; mostly Zins and Calif/French/Oz Rhones, to have shipped back<br>to NewMexico. Return to my motel, catch a few winks, makes some notes & calls home. <br>Around 9:30pm, decide I am hungry enough for dinner. My first choice was Campanille,<br>but the drive up there was more than I wanted to do. So decide to do Valentino, <br>since their wine list is so highly regarded.<br> The meal this time was rather ordinary; not bad, but just not of the caliber I<br>had expected. A potatoe & spinach gnocchi in walnut/cream sauce was pretty heavy.<br>The breaded sweetbreads (I can never pass up sweetbreads on a menu) w/ fresh<br>veggys was good, if a bit bland. But the flourless chocolate cake for dessert was<br>outstanding. <br> The only saving grace of the meal was the wine. Find an Il Podere Toreldego '95<br>lurking on the list, so order that. A big rich grapey rather tannic wine that <br>didn't go so well w/ the food but was quite good on its own. Since single diners<br>appear rare/nonexistent here, I fall into conversation w/ the two tables on either<br>side, all of whom are serious wine folks. None had heard of Toreldego before, so<br>the bottle gets passed back and forth, and I do a little educating of them on the<br>variety and Il Podere wnry, also new to them. After a very ordinary cup of coffee,<br>head back to the motel and some badly needed rest.<p> Sunday, Feb 7 <br> Up early to fairly clear skies, so down the street to a pretty little park to shoot<br>a few hoops. 7:00 am in Santa Monica is a pretty quiet place. Then back to my room,<br>read thru the LA Times, and get cleaned up.<br> On the flight out, I sat next to a lady from Indianapolis whose two sons were<br>both ministers and she was obviously most proud of. At the baggage claim at LAX,<br>she introduces me to the younger one picking her up & he gives me a pro-forma<br>invitation to his church on Sunday. So, with time to kill, I head down Centinella <br>Avenue to his 9:00am service. As just about the only white-guy there, I sorta stuck<br>out in the congregation. At the welcoming of visitors, I stand and introduce myself;<br>they probably don't get many LosAlamos folks at their services. The lady from the<br>airplane was beaming from ear-to-ear.... certainly made her day. Afterwards, get<br>two invitations home for Sunday dinner, but, unfortunately have to decline.<br> The last event was lunch back at Spago, with Wolfgang's Spago cusine, and<br>focusing on the MonteBello Cab vertical. Check out of my motel & arrive up in<br>BeverlyHills a bit early, so wander down Canon Rd, where the Sunday morning farmer's<br>market is being held. Absolutely gorgeous fruits and vegetables.... at equally<br>astonishing prices... guess one shouldn't be too surprised. Notice a few youngsters<br>(8-10 or so in yrs) strolling around w/ cell phones attached to their waists. I<br>guess I should realize BeverlyHills is not exactly the real world by now.<br> Return to Spago for today's lunch. Visit a bit aforehand w/ Earl Singer, Mike<br>Lonsford, and Jim Adelman. Also get a chance to chat a bit w/ Stephen Spurrier and<br>Serena Sutcliffe. Alas, friends Larry Archibald and Laura Chancellor from SantaFe<br>are gravely ill and cannot make it as planned. Since this is MonteBello Cabs, there<br>are some new faces in the crowd. Ann Colgin is here today. Several of the folks<br>who got up to speak during the tasting made some comments really blasting the high-<br>end, highly-sought-after, cult Cabs. She looked a bit uncomfortable about it and<br>I thought a few of the comments were... ill-considered.<br> Today, I'm seated next to Frank Prial, of the NY Times. I was quite taken by the<br>man; genuine, very friendly, sharing, pretty low-key, down-to-earth sort of guy.<br>As we were tasting thru the wines; I made the comment to him about Paul's favorite<br>has always been the '70 MonteBello and, in fact, that his auto license plate is (or<br>was at one time) is MB70 to reflect that fact.<p> Today's lunch menu is classic Wolfgang Puck:<br> Sesame Cones w/ Tuna Tartare<br> Smoked Salmon Pizza w/ Caviar<br> Potato Latke w/ Smoked Sturgeon & Horseradish<br> Four Cheese Pizza w/ Black Truffles<br> Terrine of Foie Gras on Toasted Brioche<br> Pizza w/ Fontina, Parmesan, Arugula, & Prosciutto de Parma<br> <br> Seared Maine Diver Scallops w/ Celery Root/Apple Puree & Black Truffle Nage<br> <br> Braised Veal Leg & Crispy Brain Viennoise<br> <br> Wild Scottish Wood Cock w/ Cabernet Mole, Young Leeks & Prune Gratin<br> <br> Assorted French Cheeses w/ Toasted Walnut Bread<br> <br> Grapefruit Vanilla Bean Sorbet w/ Carmelized Oro Blanco<br> <br>The food was simply stunning, some of the best I've ever had, especially the <br>scallops, the brain (I'm big on organ meats), and the Wood Cock; simply incredible.<p> The wines dated back to very very start of Ridge Vnyds, the '62, both bottles of<br>which were provided from the cellars of Ron Light and Shawn Denkler:<p>1. Ridge MonteBello '62: Med.light bit browning color; low key light cedary/cigar box/<br> old Cab complex nose; smooth/elegant rather light bit washed out light cedary/<br> cigar box flavor; in balance & very smooth but little intensity and rather on<br> the infeebled side.<br>2. Ridge MonteBello '64: Med.color; old Cab/cigar box/tobaccoy nose becomes very<br> aromatic/perfumed/dried rose petal/licorice pungent nose; somewhat astringent<br> cigar box/cedary/old Cab/tobaccoy rather tired flavor; going downhill.<br>3. Ridge MonteBello '67: Med.color; slight oxidized rather tobaccoy/cedary/complex/<br> pencilly slight dusty nose; very smooth/elegant cedary/cigar box/tobaccoy/complex<br> flavor; light/balanced elegant not much intensity; delicate but fading into<br> old age more gracefully than I.<br>4. Ridge MonteBello Hollywood Barrel '68: This was from a barrel bottled specially for<br> the Hollywood Food&Wine Society: Med.color; attractive rather herbal/cedary/very<br> complex/pencilly bit vanilla extract nose; somewhat dried-out/astringent/tannic<br> rathe cigar box/pencilly/cedary flavor; beautiful complex nose but hard & dried<br> out on the palate.<br>5. Ridge MonteBello '68: Med.color; usual cigar box/cedary/tobaccoy some bretty/<br> horsecollar complex nose; soft smooth elegant cigar box/tobaccoy some brett/<br> horsecollar flavor; bit more unclean but much more attractive on the palate.<br>6. Ridge MonteBello '69: Med.dark color; much more classic MB/pungent smokey/cedary/<br> pencilly very complex rather aromatic/high-toned almost Zin-like nose.<br> According to Paul, this wine was always his & Dave Bennion's least favorite<br> because of a high volatlity to it. It seems not to have suffered over the yrs<br> for that.<p>7. Ridge MonteBello '70: Beautiful intense MB/smokey/pungent dusty/cedary/pencilly<br> some smokey/oaked nose; somewhat tannic big rich cigar box/cedary/pencilly<br> complex smokey/dusty flavor; classic complex old MB but still not come together<br> on the palate and may never.<br>8. Ridge MonteBello '71: Beautiful blackcurranty/cedary/pencilly/some fruit slight<br> brett/horsecollar nose; soft smooth lush some blackcurranty/fruit cedary/pencilly<br> complex very balanced rich flavor; a beautiful sensual Cab to drink and surely<br> at its peak.<br>9. Ridge MonteBello '72: Very strong butterscotchy/caramel/oaked smoked meat/licorice<br> charred/pungent dusty some blackcurranty/fruit complex nose; bit herbal old <br> Bordeaux/cedary/pencilly toasty/charred/pungent/smokey complex flavor; smooth<br> and round on the palate; a pleasure to drink; come together very well; a<br> terrific wine for what was widely-regarded as a weak vintage.<br>10. Ridge MonteBello Merlot/Cabernet '74: Rather new oak/winery-smelling some dusty/<br> earthy pungent nose; some herbal dusty/pungent rather astringent flavor; lots<br> of oak in the nose & some dried out on the palate; not held up well.<br>11. Ridge MonteBello '74: Very dusty/earthy light blackcurranty bit closed nose; rather<br> hard/astringent closed some pungent/dusty flavor; seems rather closed and not<br> much there; surely not just in a dumb phase?<br>12. Ridge MonteBello '75: Classic MB/pungent/smokey/dusty some blackcurranty/Cab<br> slight bretty nose; big rich complex pungent/dusty/smokey smooth/balanced some<br> cedary/pencilly complex flavor; a pleasure to drink & come together well; a<br> classic mature MB Cab<p>13. Ridge MonteBello '76: Beautiful complex/pungent/smokey/toasty/cedary some old Cab/<br> tobaccoy classic MB/pungent nose; rich bit dried-out/astringent pungent/smokey/<br> dusty light blackcurranty/toasty slight bretty flavor; bit hard on the palate but<br> a classic mature MB Cab nose.<br>14. Ridge MonteBello '77: Some eucalyptus/herbal rich blackcurrant Cab/chocolaty<br> rather Bordeaux-like smokey/pungent nose; somewhat tart/hard/lean bit herbal/<br> Bordeaux some blackcurranty pungent smokey flavor; reminds me some of Chateau<br> HautBrion; wonderful nose but needs some age yet.<br>15. Ridge MonteBello '78: Beautiful intense dusty/pungent/peppery very exotic/perfumed<br> aromatic almost Cote-Rotie-like nose; big beautiful intense pungent/dusty very<br> spicy very peppery/toasty/charred smooth/elegant rather Cote-Rotie-like flavor;<br> a stunning mature exotic MonteBello. My favorite of the bunch.<br>16. Ridge MonteBello '79: (only 3 barrels; the Santa CruzMtn Cab '79 is a terrific<br> Cab because of this): very intense butterd popcorn/smokey/exotic pungent nose;<br> soft smooth buttery very buttered popcorn ripe blackcurranty flavor; a rather<br> exotic/eccentric MB but I really like the wine.<br>17. Ridge MonteBello '81: Bit herbal rather clocolaty/blackcurranty/Cab smokey/toasty/<br> pungent dusty/oaked nose; tart bit lean/hard herbal/chocolaty/Bordeaux-like<br> round smokey/pungent flavor; still needs a bit of age but getting there.<br>18. Ridge MonteBello '83 (declassified): Very ripe/blackcurranty/Cab buttery/oaked<br> more Calif-style slight bretty nose; bit hard/rough/rustic blackcurranty/Cab<br> smokey/pungent bit bretty flavor; needs a bit more age yet.<p>19. Ridge MonteBello '84: Unusual menthol/minerally classic MB/pungent/smokey nose;<br> rather tart/hard bit minerally/earthy/stoney bit menthol smokey/pungent MB/Cab<br> flavor; unusual and almost a Languedoc character to the wine.<br>20. Ridge MonteBello '85: Rather green olive/blackcurranty some toasty/pungent/<br> smokey complex nose; rich balanced some herbal/Bordeaux/green olive pungent/<br> toasty flavor; lots of Bordeaux character<br>21. Ridge MonteBello '87: Some green olive pungent/dusty classic MB/Cab rather<br> perfumed/aromatic spicy/cloves nose; big rich pungent/smokey classic MB/Cab<br> lush/ripe/perfumey flavor; terrific rich sensual MB Cab<br>22. Ridge MonteBello '88: Somewhat gamey/smokey/toasty pungent/MB/dusty some ripe<br> blackcurranty nose; rich smokey/pungent toasty/charred/dusty some blackcurranty<br> flavor; another classic MB that needs some age.<br>23. Ridge MonteBello '89: Beautiful complex/smokey/pungent/toasty/charred oak dusty<br> blackcurranty nose; lovely round/ripe/blackcurranty/lush toasty/charred oak/<br> pungent classic MB Cab; my favorite of te '80's but will still age.<br>24. Ridge MonteBello '90: Some milky/Am.oaked some blackcurranty/Cab classic smokey/<br> pungent nose; young rather milky/Am.oaked blackcurranty/Cab some smokey/pungent/<br> toasty fairly tannic flavor; needs age but not the complexity of the previous<br> ones.<p>25. Ridge MonteBello '91: Classic MB/Cab pungent/smokey/oaked nose; rich lush<br> mouthfilling ripe blackcurranty/Cab toasty/smokey/pungent flavor; classic<br> MonteBello<br>26. Ridge MonteBello '92: Some minty/menthol/eucalyptus classic pungent/smokey nose;<br> bit harder/more tannic some minerally/menthol classic MB flavor<br>27. Ridge MonteBello '93: Intense classic MB smokey/pungent blackcurranty/Cab slight<br> menthol nose; softer/lusher classic MB/pungent flavor<br>28. Ridge MonteBello '94: More smokey/oaked pungent rather intense blackcurranty/Cab<br> nose; rather hard/tannic rich/big/blackcurranty/black cherry rather pungent/smokey/<br> oaked flavor; seems the biggest & the hardest of these '90's.<br>29. Ridge MonteBello '95: Intense smokey/pungent ripe blackcurranty/Cab classic MN<br> nose; round lush ripe more balanced flavor.<br>30. Ridge MonteBello '96: Classic MB/pungent nose; hard & tannic and needs age.<br>31. Ridge PasoRobles Zin Essence '93: Again, a stunning Essence; very intense black-<br> berry/jammy/cassis nose w/ no raisened or pruney character; very sweet/tart<br> intense blackberry/jammy/boysenberry flavor; probably the best Essence Ridge<br> has made. We need more of these wines!<p> And for Sunday's bloody pulpit:<br>1. I was very surprised how well the MBs from the '60's had held up. Classic examples<br> of old Calif Cabs.... intelluctual but not sensual experiences. The '69 was<br> clearly a different breed of cat and a real pleasure to drink.<br>2. In the second flight from the early '70's; I had expected the '70, always Paul's<br> favorite MB, to be spectacular. It was merely terrific. Maybe it'll never come<br> together?? What was interesting was the two weak vintages of the '70's, the '72<br> and the '75, were absolutely wonderful. Undoubtedly, it's the rather ruthless<br> selection they make to assemble MB Cab.<br>3. These wines show to me an astonishing consistency in both style and quality,<br> undoubtedly because of the rigorous selection used. Yet each one is a distinct<br> and individual wine, hardly what you'd call assembly-line wines. <br>4. Cleary, Monte Bello is one of the world's great and unique vnyds. The wines have<br> a distinct smokey/pungent/dusty character to them and not a lot of the intense<br> blackcurranty/Cab fruit you find in, say, Napa Cabs. I've found that when MB Cab<br> is served amongst other high-end Calif Cabs, if often is down-rated because of<br> its unusual pungent character. Unless you recognize.... aha... that IS MonteBello<br> Cabernet.<br>5. As I tasted thru these wines, that unique pungent/dusty/smokey characeter of MB<br> Cab would make my mind wander of to the Rhone Valley. I find a rather Rhone-like<br> quality in MB Cab that I seldom find in other Cabs; almost a Hermitage-like<br> character. Sure would like to see what Syrah would do up on MonteBello Ridge!<br>6. With the youngest flight, it was hard to describe what I was finding in the<br> wines (but NOT because of the effect of the alcohol!). They all had that classic<br> MonteBello/pungent character but were still distinct. And has I'd go back and taste<br> thru that flight, I'd find something different in each wine. One usually associates<br> "complexity" in wine w/ older/mature wines that have bottle bouquet. But you can<br> also find "complexity" in young wines, too. These MB Cabs are a classic example<br> of that. And though they are big & rich & powerful wines, you always return to the<br> "balance" in these wines, the fact that nothing really stands out by itself and<br> everyting is in proportion. That's one of the things that makes MB unique. Clearly,<br> the '90-'96 vintages are a pretty incredible string of successes for MB Ridge.<br> Not a weak one or a lesser one in the bunch. It's really hard, at this point, to<br> pick out a flavor. Probably 10 yrs down the road, I'll flog myself silly for not<br> buying more of one or the other!<br> <br> So, an incredible way to finish off an amazing weekend. Bid adieu to a lot of both<br>new and long-time friends. Grab the car, collect my scattered wits, and head south<br>to LAX. The 8:30 flight is over an hour late, so catch a lot of ZZZ's in the terminal<br>and on the flight home. With a pretty shakey drive, finally arrive home around 2:30 am.<br>Monday was NOT a productive day for me!!<p> Some Final Comments<br> All in all, one of the most unbelieveable weekends I've spent. You come away from<br>an event like this w/ a much bigger appreciation for Ridge wines. Alas, there were a<br>lot that were not included (Amador Zins, Howell Mtn Zins & Cabs, Paso Robles Zins). <br>This thing could have gone on for another 2-3 days yet. <br> Everything ran smoothly like clockwork. Clearly Bipin's enormous efforts aforehand<br>was the major reason; with a lot of people behind the scenes making sure everything<br>got done. And Paul Draper's comments and sharing of his thoughts and background on<br>the wines and Ridge made the event one that, alas, will never be repeated. Good food,<br>great wines, and the most special of friends.... can't be beat!<br>TomHill<br> <p><br>