TN: Four Orphan Zins...(short/boring)

Heading down the home stretch on my orphan stash, I cracked into a box of Zins last night:

  1. HowellMtnVnyds Zin HowellMtn/NapaVlly (13.5%) Rutherford 1990: Dark color w/ slight bricking; dreadful wet dog fur/mousey/hantavirus/mouse poop rather toasty/charred/oak/smokey/smoked hot dogs no fruit earthy/HM nose; soft rather oxidized/funky/tired/earthy some oldZin/cedary some wet dog fur/mouse poop flavor w/ light dried-out tannins; pretty badly shot & down the drain. $16.00

  1. Sky Zin MtVeeder/NapaVlly TW (EB) 1991: Very light/Trousseau-like color w/ some browning; quite oxidized/earthy/maderized light pencilly/cedary/oldZin earthy nose; soft quite oxidized/maderized/sherry slight cranberry flavor w/ very light/gentle tannins; pretty much DOA & down the drain. $15.00

  1. SeaRidge Zin OccidentalVnyd/SonomaCoast (13.5%) Dan&Dee Wickham/Occidental 1990: Very dark color w/ some browning; rather toasty/pencilly/oldZin/cedary some earthy/blackberry/Zin/boysenberry/peppery rather complex oldZin nose; very tart/acid/screechy/teeth-chattering bit toasty/oldZin/pencilly some blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/peppery bit earthy/dusty/OV flavor w/ light bitey/hard tannins; long incredibly acid/screechy/teeth-chattering rather pencilly/cedary/oldZin some blackberry/peppery/boysenberry/Zin/spicy finish w/ light/bitey tannins; still has some dusty/OV fruit left; some very interesting old Zin character therein but the screaming acidity make it impossible to drink; should have aged well because of the acidity but has not done that well. $16.00

  1. Ridge Zin PaganiRanch/SonomaVlly/Calif (14.4%; 10% PS/6% AlicanteBouschet; bttld May 93; Drk: 4/93-4/03: PD; FirstVintage) 1991: Very dark color w/ slight/some bricking; strong blackberry/boysenberry/peppery/Zin/spicy/licorice/RCCola light vanilla/Am.oak/smokey/DraperPerfume/pencilly rather dusty/OV/earthy/mushroomyquite complex beautiful nose; bit tart quite spicy/peppery/licorice/blackberry/Zin/boysenberry/RCCola strong vanilla/Am.oak/DP quite dusty/OV/earthy/rustic rather complex flavor w/ light gentle/polished tannins; very long/lingering strong peppery/blackberry/Zin/spicy/Pagani/licorice quite dusty/OV/earthy rather smokey/Am.oak/DP complex finish w/ light gentle/smooth tannins; a bit past its peak but still offers up considerable pleasure. Two more left in thiis box. $24.00

A wee BloodyPulpit:

  1. A case of Zins that had been standing upright for almost 20 yrs. In all cases, the corks had not dropped and were securely in the necks of the btls and came out under the services of the Ah-So. In fact, the cork on the Ridge was very soft & mushy all the way to the very top, so I used a cork screw.

  1. SeaRidge: This is a wnry that is a legend in its time in my group. I came upon the '91 version that had a special, PrivateSlctn, label on it that was apparently bttld up for special customers of SeaRidge. It was a huge Zin w/ high acidity that I just knew would have to age well. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the Ridge Occidental '70 in its youth. It was widely reviled in my group because of the acidity and I took an unmercifully amount of $hit over it. I was, of course, right and it evolved into a pretty good Zin (but just that).
    This btl had an ugly bright blue label of the early SeaRidge on it. This was a wnry that was owned by Dan & Dee Wickham. He was a ??? (guy who studies fishes) and the original SeaRidge label had a sea hell or conch shell on it. It made some pretty good Pinots in his day, but the Zins really stood out. It was from this very old Zin vnyd (now torn out) there on HarrisonGradeRd just before you turned left onto MorelliLane and the vonWeidlich vnyd there on your right (fortunately still there and farmed by EricSussman). After SeaRidge went under, the property became EricRoss wnry and also made some exceptional OV/cold-climate Zins.

  1. Pagani: This was the first vintage that Ridge took from the PaganiRanch. Since Paul had never worked w/ Pagani fruit before, his recommended drinking window was on the cautious side and his recommendation was a bit tentative. The wine is doing great more than 10 yrs out beyond the window and still speaks strongly of Pagani.

Thanks Tom - super fun to see the SEA RIDGE name - I was a big fan of their Pinot Noirs in the early 1980s - an '81 Suma Ranch still resonates when I think of great American Pinot Noirs.

Only had a couple bottlings of their Zins, all within 2-3 years of their vintage date - so it was interesting to see your note -

Come to think of it - I’ve had quite a few older Occidental Zins from Ridge in the past ('68 and '70) and I remember them have tons of volatile acidity - yet it didn’t seem to detract from the overall wine -

Hmmm…I don’t recall there being a VA problem w/ those two Ridge Occidentals. I recall them as being fairly alcoholic, though. Especially the Occidental LateHrvst.
They were taking those grapes from vonWeidlich. Paul finally gave up on that vnyd because of the difficulty getting those grapes to ripen. The wines always had
a pretty high acidity to them…but not as bad as the SeaRidge was. Occidental is not a good site to grow Zin methinks. I’ve hounded Paul considerably over the yrs
about giving up the Occidental Zin.
He recalls one time going up to the vnyd to pick up the bins of grapes and catching Robert tossing handfuls of sugar onto the grapes in the picking bins.

I, too, liked the SeaRidge Pinots…but it was the Zins that grabbed my attention.

Tom -

Could you tell me how it is you know what mouse poop tastes like?

Just wonderin’…


Well…not exactly, Bree. But any number of times I’ve had to restack my wood pile and have come onto
a mouse’s nest. So have probably inhaled mouse poop particles. Lucky not to have developed HantaVirus.
It’s a smell/taste memory that stays w/ you.

Close, Jim. Marine Bioligist. As was his partner in SeaRidge, TimSchmidt.