It's time to start cleaning out the cellar and drinking old bottles. We've started inviting friends over and opening one wine that may be too old to drink, with a newer bottle as a backup. Tonight's wine was a 1985 Ridge Paso Robles. According to the label, this wine peaked around 1992.
Opening the bottle was the first challenge. The cork turned to powder below the first half inch, and had to be dug out, but as soon as it was opened the bouquet of the wine immediately showed signs of life. It was clear this wine had not turned to vinegar.
After about 10 minutes of breathing, the wine was outstanding, with no trace of tannins, nicely balanced and with a surprising amount of fruit. I figured this wine was a long shot by any standard but it did not disappoint. I wasn't surprised that there was a considerable amount of sediment but the wine was drinkable except for the last few drops. I think decanting very old wines risks damaging them, and this one didn't seem to need decanting.
This was the last bottle of 1980's Ridge Zin in the cellar, and I've had it since around 1990. It's the first old bottle I've opened recently, and it bodes well for the rest. If you have this wine in your cellar, drink it now, and keep your fingers crossed.
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