Yeah, this was definitely over the hill. It was still drinkable, but obviously it was largely dead. The fruit that remained seemed more like plum. Some molasses. I wanted this to be my special wine for my 50th birthday, but alas it just wasn't up to task. Would have been wonderful for my 40th birthday.
Jimsomare Vertical at The White House (The White House, Anaheim, CA): From a magnum. Smells a bit old but there is strong a maple syrup aroma and notes of dark red fruits. The fruit seemed a bit reserved but it also seemed to go up and down changing as I tried it over 15 minutes changing with air. There was a nice tart acidity and overall I liked this. Probably passed its prime but still in a good spot.
Sure... this wine is on the downhill slope, but IMO like many great wines, it's a slow gentle descent into that good night rather than a rapid vertical dive. The nose wasn't terribly inviting, with plum and cherry scents hiding behind putrefied fruits and vegetables, but it performed much better on the palate. This wine still has excellent poise and balance, plenty of acidity, and lots of tart dessicated cherry and plum fruit flavors. Considering that this is a 39 year old Zin, I can only imagine what this wine must have tasted like at its peak.
From magnum. A little while back, I had the good fortune of acquiring three magnums of this wine from one of our local board members. But, until this dinner, I had no idea what a stroke of luck this actually was. This was, without a doubt, the finest zinfandel/zin-blend that I have ever tasted (I only wish I had it for last year's Ridge vertical dinner!). The color was that of a dark strawberry jam with just the slightest lightening around the edges and hints of purple in the center. The fruit was very much alive, a well-infused plummy, jammy, berry mouthful that popped upon first opening and remained vibrant for the hour over which we consumed the bottle. Complementing the fruit were notes of leather, dried Provencal herbs, hard minerals, and hints of pepper and very mellow oak. After 36 years in the bottle, this wine could best be described as silky, intense and startlingly complex. There was no noticeable alcohol (I don’t know how accurate the alcohol measurements were at this time, anyway) and a long, subtle finish that reminded me of a very fine Bordeaux. I don’t normally give wines numerical ratings, but, if I did, this wine would certainly warrant strong consideration for a 100. It seems that this wine is perfectly mature, neither slipping in its primaries nor leaving any room to improve, so I plan to drink the remaining magnums over the next year or two. Sadly, this probably means that the 750 bottlings are past their prime (although I haven’t tried them, so that is just extrapolation).
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