Full disclosure: I really enjoy the wines of Ridge Winery. Year in and year out I have found Ridge to be a reliable producer of high quality wines. I have enjoyed reds and whites from Ridge, with my favorites being the hearty, big and stunning Zinfandels from Ridge.
Drinking a Ridge Zin is like coming home, or listening to Brahms, or reading Neruda. It is a warm spring day after a long winter. It is all things right and wonderful in the world.
It is then with that level of anticipation that I opened up one of my three remaining 1.5 liter bottles of the 2003 Ridge Lytton Springs and experienced nearly total heartbreaking disappointment. The wine was past its prime.
Like this author, the wine is in it's long slow and inevitable decline.
My impressions: India ink to dark garnet in color. Blackberries, cherries and strawberries on the nose - but muted, lacking crispness and individuality. A muddle of dark fruit. Absent the brightness that I experienced with a bottle I opened last summer. Less tannic than I recall. Softer than it should be. Moderate finish with cherries.
My experience with this bottle of Ridge highlights one major drawback when you save a bottle of wine for a special occasion. The special occasion may never arrive and your wine begins to slowly fade away. Sitting in the quiet darkness of my wine closet this 1.5 liter bottle had waited patiently for a special occasion which never came. Its biological clock continued to tick away aging slowly from youth to old age without any consideration of my occasions: special or otherwise.
76% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah and 6% Charignane.
This is still a good wine and will kick-butt over many California Zinfandels today. It just isn't as good as it used to be.