Were You As Fine In ’79? -or- The Past Shall Speak, From York Creek!

One of the very great things about hosting this blog is that I’ve become the somewhat unwitting repository of a great wealth of Ridge arcana, running the gamut from tales of Days in the Vineyards to tasting notes of impossibly rare wines.

These tales come to me in many fashions; most commonly across the bar in the tasting room, or via e-mail, when some kind soul takes an extra moment to share something particularly special.

One such example of the latter occasion occurred not too long back, when a gentleman by the name of Bruce Macumber — whose history with Ridge runs deep, deep, deep — wrote an e-mail about a wine he’d recently unearthed from his personal vaults. It was such a brilliant story, such a great example of Ridge wine longevity, and such a charmingly crafted note, that I was desperate to share it. Fortunately, Bruce obliged my query, and here is what he wrote:

Wanted you to know i just enjoyed your 1979 York Creek NV Zinfandel which I purchased at the winery in 1982 from Dave & Paul. Good fill, never cellared over 65′, cork still but barely intact, nice 29 year old nose only showing faint oxidation. Color was lightly brown/amber/brick hue and taste still had berry fruit, mild tannins, and some/enough Petite Sirah structure/body to compliment our chicken dinner with mild sauces. Fully complex & completely developed. It shows what lots of harvest extract will do with extended bottle age and the bouquet was as good as it gets.


And lest you not be feeling to the full extent just what all this wine has weathered in its many years on this earth, ask yourself, what, if anything, were YOU doing in 1979?

Were you making out to this?

While driving this?

Or were you more into dancing with this?

Or watching this?

Well, whatever your preferences, I think it’s safe to say that was a long, long time ago, and any wine that’s showing well still if, well, a really good wine.

Thanks to Bruce for sharing his story, and to all y’all out there with Ridge stories tucked into your pockets, reveal, reveal!

Categories: History, Petite Sirah, Tasting Notes, Varietals & Blends, Viticultural Salmagundi, Zinfandel


1 reply

  1. Ah yes, le dix-neuf cent, soixante dix neuf! Where was I?

    Well, having just moved 200 miles into our new home, complete with a new baby, I set about making contacts; you know, things that might help an aspiring executive. As customer entertainment was to be part of my job, what better than to begin to develop my wine knowledge? Thus I joined a wine tasting club. We organised ourselves into a monthly meet, in private houses and selected themes to enjoy. Would you beleive, it would be six years before the first US wine was presented? In the UK it was the era of Paul Masson in carafes and then of questionable quality. It would be another six years before I tasted Ridge – the 1987 Geyserville.

    Now, sadly, I do not have any 79’s in my cellar; indeed only a few precious bottles of pre 1980. Yes, I still have a Ridge 76 Fiddletown Zin and a 74 Geyserville. They will meet their fate at celebration dinners. Yes, I also have a few special bottles for anniversaries.

    Sadly, over here, very few are fortunate to have proper wine storage space at home. Indeed, it is a sad fact that 95% of all wines bought in the UK today will be consumed by this time tomorrow. Of the remaining 5%, another 95% will be consumed by this time next week and another 95% will go by this time next month! Thus, for every 10,000 bottles bought today, only 25 remain untouched in four weeks! It is a simple truism that when the availablity is omnipresent, where is the motive to hide things away for years?

    But back to the past! In 1979 I celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary with a taste from two special bottles. At a wine fair in Bristol, I splashed out on two samples of what I thought would be memorable fare. They were, and remain the ONLY time I have ever tasted them. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you. 1945 Chateau Lafite and 1945 Chateau d’Yquem. Magical then, memories now.

    Well, it was part of my education; some might say part of the inexorable slide into the murky world of expensive wines. But I – and my wife now of 37 years – have enjoyed wines beyond our comprehension and expectation and still we learn.

    Yes, we still meet our wine tasting friends, the first Sunday of the month and yes, we include Ridge in the schedule. What I find fascinating is that, being credited with having ‘discovered’ Ridge for the group, every time we return to it, there are always demands for a repeat event. That cannot be said of other producers and no, they are not humouring me!

    Rant over, but thanks for the idea to reminisce!

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