There are some invitations that come arrive in my inbox that sit for a few days before I decide whether or not I can attend. It happens to all of us. And then there are the emails that Christopher Watkins sends about his quarterly Ridge Bloggers Tastings. For those, I check my calendar right away and attempt to reschedule if I have a conflict. In June, my conflict was a trip to Germany. This time, it was a canning project. The German trip I could not reschedule, but, I was able to move my canning project--40 pounds of tomatoes this time- clearing September 25th for a trip to Lytton Springs.
More than a bit exhausted from my jam-judging stint at the Eat Real Festival, followed by the tomato project, I drove to Healdsburg, delighted that unlike last year's tasting, when temperatures were over 90, it was a beautiful day. As always, the tasting had a theme, this time: small-production, winery-only library wines from the Lytton Springs Estate Vineyards. But before we could get truly started, it was time for a trip outside to witness the arrival of some zinfandel grapes.
|Grapes that had come in earlier.|
On our way back inside, we were lucky enough to stop by a "Carignane Fountain" for a taste of some amazing juice. I found myself wishing that I could take a bottle or two home.
Back at our tables, it was time to start tasting. I'll list all the wines below, but a few general thoughts first. One, as always, it is a lot of fun to see what Christopher will pull out of the cellars for these tastings. All too often, when tasting young wines, especially ones that I do not know well, it is a bit of a guessing game as to how they will evolve. Tastings like this provide a valuable education that most of us can not duplicate at home. I am also always impressed with the consistency shown. Although I can pick favorites, I would quite happily drink any of these wines. That is something one can rarely say at most tastings. But what did we drink?
The first two wines were:
2002 Ridge Grenache Lytton Estate 78% Grenache/13% Petite Sirah/9% Zinfandel As I have had many times, 02 is K's birthyear and I wish I had a lot more in my cellar. Alas. Medium bodied with blackberry, spice and good acidity.
2003 Ridge Syrah/Grenache Lytton Estate 50% Syrah/50% Grenache Dark fruit, cocoa, more tannins.
Next up was a special treat: A mystery wine brought by Richard Jennings of RJonWine, served to us blind. We were told that it was a Ridge wine, no longer produced, and were asked to guess the vintage and grape. Although I failed miserably at the grape portion of the challenge, I was closest on vintage, guessing 89. Apparently there will be a prize.
The wine? A 1990 Ridge Barbera Rancho Pequeno
To follow, three flights of syrah:
2003 Ridge Syrah Lytton West Vineyard Co-fermented with 9% Viognier. Rich, jammy with a dusty nose. Although this tasted to me like it came from a very warm year, I was told that in fact, 03 was cold and wet.
2005 Ridge Syrah Lytton West Vineyard 6% Viognier Very pretty, with black pepper and a very grapey, fruity nose.
2002 Ridge Syrah II Lytton Estate 76% Syrah/22% Grenache/2% Viognier This had an almost rubbery nose when first poured, but opened up to show black cherry and pepper.
2001 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate 1% Viognier My favorite of this flight. Dark color, vibrant and spicy.
2000 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate 1% Viognier This was originally poured to me in a smaller glass and I found it edgy and a bit closed. Switching to a different glass, it showed leather and cocoa.
1999 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate 92% Syrah/7% Grenache/1% Viognier Minerals, Cherries and cocoa.
1997 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate 88% Syrah/12% Viognier My wine of the day. Smooth with black fruit and spice, really, just about perfect.
Thanks as also to Christopher and Brandye and everyone at Ridge and my fellow attendees: