I just very recently had the opportunity to host the very great John Tilson for a tasting. If you know John, you’ll likely know him either from The Underground Wine Letter or The Underground Wine Journal, depending on how far back your wine drinking eras stretch. But in either case, if you do know him, you’ll know him to be one of the great, truly great wine writers, but more than that, one of the great palates, and even more than that, one of the great figures in the world of wine. And if you don’t know him, but have even the remotest interest in wine, then it is my considered opinion that you owe it to yourself to, in some fashion, make his acquaintance. I heartily recommend starting with The Underground Wine Letter.
The opportunity to host these three men, Paul Draper, John Tilson, and Eric Baugher, was for me an unparalled opportunity to experience firsthand a sophistication of oenophilic dialogue one rarely gets to osmosize. I could have listened all day, and then some.
Probably needless to say, a bevy of wonderful wines were on offer, including the stellar line-up of new spring releases. John was clearly taken by both the 2007 Monte Bello, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, by the 2009 Ponzo. Not that the Ponzo is ever a lesser wine, not by any means. But its cooler climate, Russian River aesthetic renders it a bit of an anomaly in the grand pantheon of Californian zinfandel, thus the surprise. As John noted, it is so bright, so elegant, so fresh, so vibrant, so smooth, it would be hard to pinpoint it as a zin were it tasted blind. I like to believe John’s long and exalted history with Burgundian wines positions his palate to be ideally suited for easily grasping the singularity of this offering.
All that said, the stars of the show came from the library, and in this case, in magnum form. Specifically, magnums of 1987 Geyserville and Lytton Springs!
So, just to give yourself pause, and to give yourself a true scope of just how durable and ageworthy these wines are, just ask yourself; what were you wearing then? In 1987? What were you wearing then? And when you answer yourself, if that doesn’t give you a deep sense of scale as regards the lovely longevity of these wines, I don’t quite know what else to do to bring the point home. Certainly, the gulf between the me of 1987 and the me of now is a wide one … or is it?
But what about you? Did you look like this?
Or maybe even this???
So take a trip back in time, and have a look at the you of 1987. Were you still just a twinkle in your father’s eye, or were you rocking a mullet?
I, for one, am happy that 1987 was a good year for Ridge wine; it certainly wasn’t a good year for my wardrobe. I seem to remember a particularly noteworthy pair of fuchsia Levis I was awfully fond of …