Serious wine drinkers bring backup bottles. This is because serious wine drinkers become utterly despondent when a flawed wine ruins the night/meal/tasting. Lucky for me, I am friends with a few such serious wine drinkers.
This past weekend we hosted quite possibly the last dinner party ever in our Seattle house before we pack up and move to more southerly areas. Our good friends brought some wine (pictured at left), we provided some wine, and their daughter babysat our daughter in the living room – it was a very pleasant family evening. The two low points were a corked bottle (the horror!) and an embarrassing plum tart debacle which I blame entirely on my Aunt Marsha’s recipe (or lack thereof). But this blog is about wine, so we will leave my baking exploits alone.
Ridge Vineyard’s Geyserville is an old favorite of mine. It appeals to me for many reasons, not the least of which is how delicious it is. Here are some of Geyserville’s best attributes, in my opinion:
1. Cost. You can buy the most recent release of Geyserville for $35 or less, every year. This is a wine that has been around for decades – the first vintage was 1966 – and the price increase has been maybe $10 over all this time??* Ridge has intentionally kept their prices down across the range of their wines, a refreshing perspective in today’s often insanely priced market.
2. Age. Geyserville lasts for decades in a well-kept cellar. I hosted a tasting in 2009 that included the following vintages of Geyserville, all accessed by members of my tasting group, many purchased in the secondary market (and no one spent more than $50 per bottle): 1988-92, 1994, 1995, 1998-2007. It was fantastically informative, especially to myself as I was just learning what happens as a wine ages. The wines from the 1980s were gorgeous, and my favorites of the night.
3. Blend. Geyserville is not just Zin. It is a blend of grapes from adjoining vineyards, some of which are Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre and even Alicante Bouschet. How cool is that? And when’s the last time you drank all of those varietals separately, let alone together?
Since the first time I drank wine with our dinner guests was actually at that 2009 tasting, it was appropriate that we sit down with some on Sunday. Roy brought two bottles and… the first one was corked. Can you imagine if he had only brought one bottle? We would have been devastated. No matter that my cellar (meager though it is) was available to us downstairs, there is no 1991 Geyserville down there. In fact, no Geyserville at all, since I keep them in off-site storage (and my oldest bottles are from 2005).
We shared other wines that night, but I’m sure the wine we will all remember is the 1991. The nose revealed gorgeous fruit, with just a teeny bit of earth beneath it. The palate was cool, calm, quite tart, and complemented by soft Zinfandel spice. The mouthfeel was just pretty, rolling across the tongue like you roll across the king size bed in a fancy hotel. It makes me shudder to think we could have missed out. The moral of the story is clear.
* this is not factually accurate – I’m just talking off the cuff here because I’m too lazy to do proper research.