There is nothing The Stupids like more than the challenge of a blind tasting. Except drinking a wine with dinner. Or being set upon by a bevy of 18-year-old Swedish nymphets. Or both at the same time. Hey, it could happen!
Wine the First was not very aromatic, except for hints of decay and oxidation. Possibly borderline corky? The finish was poopy, metallic and as nasty as anything we can remember. SY guessed an old Ravenswood Dickerson, JD guessed an old Ravenswood. We were dead wrong except for the old part. This was a 1983 Lytton Springs Vineyards “Lytton Springs Reserve”. Several people in the group loved this wine, which goes to show that every wine has its audience, no matter how bad it is.
A better argument for old zin was Wine the Second. Mildly bretty-poopy and tinged with citrus, bayleaf and eucalyptus were dominant. It had a nice dose of mature sweet fruit that faded quickly. As it sat, it faded even more. SY had no guess, other than “old”. And it was a 1981 Ridge Geyserville.
Wine the Third was truly wretched. Dank, sweaty, swampy. Huge, life-sucking tannins. SY thought it smelled like Tinky Winky’s armpit and didn’t even WANT to guess. JD didn’t want to know why SY knew what Tinky Winky’s armpit smelled like. 1988 Ravenswood “Old Hill”.
Fortunately, Wine the Fourth was pretty good, otherwise we would have gotten up and left right then and there. Though it was showing a lot of oak, there was a pile of bright, forward raspberry fruit, just what the Doctor ordered. It kinda reminded SY of a freshly opened box of Trix. The oak reminded JD of a mature Rochioli zin. 1990 Ridge “Allegria”.
Just for convenience and continuity, let’s call the next wine “Wine the Fifth”. It’s the polar opposite of the previous one, very tight and tannic, not showing a lot of fruit. But there’s some intriguing Indian spice and the finish is quite long. 1993 Ridge Lytton Springs.
Wine the Sixth was like old home week for SY. Poop and pepper pointed toward brett and a big dose of petite sirah. Very herbal, with a thick velveeta texture and tons of blackberry fruit. SY guessed Geyserville because of the petite sirah. He blew it again. JD thought it reminded him of a Ridge “Alegria.” 1992 Ridge “Lytton Estate”.
How can we describe Wine the Seventh? Imagine eating a whole loaf of Jewish rye bread, washed down with Everclear. Now burp, being careful not to initiate a back-flush of your esophagus. THAT’s the smell here. JD didn’t get nearly as much rye aromas but did get plenty of cherry and grapefruit (grapefruit does NOT belong in a zinfandel). One taster in the group rated it very highly, commenting that she liked it except for the aromas and the flavors. Scarily enough, she was serious. 1995 Martinelli “Jackass Vineyard”.
Moving down the home stretch, Wine the Eighth was sort of a throwaway. Very simple and chunky, with the virtue of being soft and smooth. It didn’t hold SY’s interest (but, then again, skinny bottled wines rarely do). 1995 Ridge “Lytton Springs”, and a disappointment when unbagged.
Wine the Ninth was a sneaker, taking all evening to start hinting how good it was. Very fresh and spicy, well-structured, with the fruit being the center of attention. As it should be. 1995 Rochioli “Sodini”.
And last-but-not was a big, youthful, structured wine. Very high alcohol and extract, dark purple color to the rim. We argued about whether it might be a pre-release of a 97 Ravenswood. Heh heh. It was a 1991 Ravenswood “Old Hill”. This bottle must have been in cold storage or in a time warp, it had no signs of aging whatsoever.