Two-recent private tasting of older California wines provided ample evidence that the native product will mature age as gracefully as the fine wines of Europe. The wines sampled were from the cellar of Dr. Hito Suyehiro, who has one of the finest collections of American wines on the East Coast.They had been stored under ideal conditions.
The first tasting involved nine white wines. The most impressie were a limited bottling of 1969 Heitz pinot chardonnay (lot 2-92-z), a beautifully balances, deeply colored wine, and Sterling Vineyars's 1971 blanc de sauvignon, a rich, full-bodied wine of 13 degrees alcohol. The Charles krug chardonnay of 1969, light and delicate, had outlasted the Freemark Abbey of the same year, which was still graceful but had lost its fruit. Stony Hill's chardonnay of that year lacked bouquet but was lively and robust to taste. the 1971 Freemark chardonnay was the biggest wines, still full of fruit. A 1969 BV (Beaumont) was the only wine that has succumbed to time.
Zinfandel was the theme of the second tasting. Sixteen wines, the oldest a 1966 Louis Martini Reserve, were sampled. Eight came from a single producer, Ridge.
By vote of 10 tasters, the 1970 Ridge Occidential was the fvorite.
Second was Ridge Jinsomare of the same year. it is a wine with a very high degree of alsohol that seems years away from full maturity, but has a depth of color and flavor that are truly extraordinary. Ridge Geyserville of 1972 was next, followed by Ridge Mendocino of 1971 and Geuserville of 1970. The Ridge Lodi of 1969 also scored well. Teo of the Ridge wines, the 1971 Geyserville and the 1971 Monte Bello, had just aged. The others, however, furthered Ridge reputation as one of the foremost producers of zinfandel.
Among the other wines the Martini Private Reserve, Simi's 1971 Sonoma and Fetzer's 1972 Ricetti were well received. Less pleasing were David Bruce, cask N. 14, 1968; Yverdon, 1972; Louis Martini, 1969; Mirassou, 1969 and Souverain, 1969.
The wide selection failed, however to define more clearly the "correct" style of zinfandel. The best of the wines had a distinct, fruity bouquet, but color, flavor and style varled considerable. One expert suggested consumers think of zinfandel in terms of categories and suggested: those made in the claret style (Simi, Martini), the big style (Ridge), a medium, fruity style (Fetzer) and, entirely separate, the unique style of David Bruce.