When Paul Draper calls …

Well, yes, I know it’s #Chardonnay Day, and I’ve lots more to say on that subject; more so even than I’ve already shown, but the truth of it is, when Paul Draper calls, and he wants to taste a three-vintage vertical of Estate Cabernet, PLUS a 2001 horizontal of Geyserville and Lytton Springs, PLUS the 1995 and 1984 Monte Bellos, well, calendar be damned, one must rise to the occasion!

The 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate is a lovely combination of forceful architecture and unctuous fruit, the 2006 is all herbaceousness and rusticity and beguilingness, and the 2005 is settling into a lover’s pose on the chaise; all fading sun creeping through the nooks and shadows of fleshy crooks and sensual curvaceousnesses …

2001 Geyserville? So young still, but with sophistication, if not maturation, beyond its years; all in attendance, oddly (or perhaps not so oddly) enough kept mentioning Japanese food …

And the 2001 Lytton Springs? In Paul’s words, more structured, more masculine; deeper and rougher … and in my words, equally entrancing, but with a simmering reserve that sears the edges of your soul whilst cooling the mist on one’s forehead …

Which brings us to the oh so sublime 1984 Monte Bello. If there is one library vintage you wish to acquire now, one wine you wish to bedazzle a companion at table with, one magical bottle to be your own personal genie of wishes, it is this one. This is the most skin-pimplingly, spine-tinglingly, breath rapidifying wine I have had in some time … utterly perfect.

And the 1995 continues its long, slow, noble march to resolution and harmony; possibly the most ponderously developing Monte Bello in the history of Monte Bello, this hermit is ever so slightly finally emerging from its shell, and finally we can see, sense, savor just a whimsical pinch of the promise yet to come …



Categories: Events & Photographs, Geyserville, Lytton Springs, Monte Bello, Paul Draper, Santa Cruz Mountains Estate, Tasting Flights, Tasting Notes

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2 replies

  1. Wow! To hear of Mr Draper’s comments on a horizontal tasting of Ridge Zins is amzing – especially as I had a very similar tasting just under four weeks ago! However, like fingerprints and retina images, taste is unique to everyone. Some folk seem to find the most amazing connections when tasting wine and, of course, we are all guided by experts.

    My tasting was a private affair for a group of 20 who have met on the first Sunday of most months for the last 30 years. The Ridge part was a mini vertical of three Chardonnays and a mini horizontal of three Zins. My notes and thoughts were recorded as –

    “”The Ridge Chardonnays. The 2008 was the bench mark and performed. Yes, clean, crisp, slight lemon/pear with the support of toasty oak. LOVELY.

    The 2000 was a bit of a letdown in comparison, flabby and tired were two comments I heard. Probably an off bottle.

    Then the 1992. Well, other than the cork coming out in bits (I pushed the remainder into the bottle and filtered the wine into a jug) it was wonderful. In wine life, we compare wines to other, known, tastes and fruit flavours. There is another measurement, equally personal, and that is to people. Yes, you get brash and aggressive in your youth, mellow and yet still giving in older age. This seemed to be a wine that had been waiting patiently to show itself and what it, as an old timer, could do. And did it? Yup, and in spades! This groupof tasters are used to good, I mean seriously good, Burgundies. Le Montrachet; Puligny; Chassagne, the whole nine yards. This 1992 Ridge was reminiscent of that style; restrained; elegant; still in balance yet still showing potential. Sadly, it was my only bottle.

    Then to the most highly awaited flight, the Ridge estate Zins. Whilst I have shown Ridge wines many times over the years to this group and they know my passion for them, this was the first time we have looked at a trio from one vintage at one time. (They have previously been just one after the other). So, to have them in front of us, as real professionals do, and to go back and forth was in itself a first. What came through right away was the subtle differences, presumably because of the mix of grapes. The Paso, being 100% Zin, was the most attractive and uncomplicated. The Lytton was the most elegant – almost ladylike; the Geyserville was her beau – a bit of a tough guy! “”

    So, as I said, you gets to taste and comment. The experience is all. Our opinions may differ and in many ways this adds to the enjoyment of both the event and the context.

    Now I am contemplating a comparison of wines from the same year, but from different formats. Does size matter? Are there obvious differences in appearance and taste between a wine from a half bottle and that same wine from a magnum? Esoteric? Well, maybe, but there is a reason why producers use different size bottles. Is it simply to delay the aging process, as is generally supposed, or just to impress consumers?

    Only by going that extra mile will I find out!

    • Absolutely there is a difference with different bottling sizes! Courtesy of the changed ratio of liquid to oxygen (compare the size of the ullage in a 375ml to that of a 3L, as compared to the difference in volume) the maturation rates are much faster the smaller the format. We’ve hosted numerous multi-format blind tastings, and it never fails to astonish our guests just how truly different the flavors can be …

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