THE LOST VINEYARDS
1999 Mason Napa
& Wendy Biale
had another fever dream
Being that I am lately a man of some leisure (though still of modest means), it occurred to Madame and me that maybe I should cash in one of the travel vouchers from a certain wayward air carrier and go flying. Being that we had cases of Mr. Ridge and Flowers stashed at the home of califusa (AKA Allan Bree) for safe keeping, why not spend some of my idle time out left, renewing old acquaintances, making some new ones and returning with said cache intact. I thought this was a splendid idea, and so did Bree, when he heard the news. So, the deal was done, arrangements were made and the next thing I knew, he was sending out invitations for an offline in my honor (a contradiction in terms, if there ever was one). The logical continuation of earlier such festivities (Pagani Madness and The Road To Jimsomare), in his mind, was to stage a complete vertical tasting of Ridge Zinfandel Park Muscatine ATP. This vineyard on Howell Mountain was given up by Ridge after the 1990 harvest. (Jerry Seps at Storybook took the fruit and made it into his Howell Mountain bottling beginning with the 91 vintage. Unlike the Ridge wines, which were blends, he made 100% Zinfandel. His last was the 97, after which the property was purchased by Randy Dunn, who pulled the vines and replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon.) Having already had a taste of the 1986 Park Muscatine, I was only too willing to participate is such an event. And, as an added bonus, he would throw in two vintages of Ridge Rancho Pequeno Barbara ATP, and call the event "Wines from the Lost Vineyards."
Mr. Bree spent the entire day of Friday, May 5th, 2000, preparing food for the event. He was a man possessed, and in the end his toil was rewarded with a spread that was truly magnificent. Finally, the guests began to arrive, and we're off on another amazing adventure into the world of Ridge Zinfandel and other ATP delights.
Hors d' oeuvres - Tarragon-Dijon egg salad, assorted cheeses, white bean puree with garlic and thyme.
Dinner - Butterflied and grilled leg of lamb, grape tomatoes with basil and Napa Valley olive oil, spicy blood orange-sesame noodles, simple Caesar, braised Beluga lentils with Portobella mushrooms, roasted corn salad with sweet peppers and rosemary, grilled asparagus, roasted Vidalia onion and red potato salad with pesto mayonnaise.
And of course, assorted desserts were provided by the guests.
Three Whites To Start
1999 Mason Napa Sauvignon Blanc (13 % alc.): I was geeked to try this medium straw, as the last couple of vintages have been quite nice, and it's one of the happening names in California Sauvignon Blanc. And indeed, the cat spray/lemon with a hint of honeysuckle bouquet was impressive, but while the flavors echoed with a certain thick, viscous quality, it is sadly lacking in acidity, or "missing crispness," as Jeff Ames put it. A nice white for $9, but not for $15.99-19.99. Didn't measure up to a '98 Rochioli Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, which has been reported upon previously in these pages.
1997 Nigl Gruner Veltliner Senftenberger Piri (12 % alc.): Lou Kessler brought this pale straw saying "it's good, but too young." It's almost colorless, with a clean floral/mineral nose with hints of lilac/green apple that follow through and expand on the palate with nice acidity and a long finish. doggie and Kira called it "yummy," and in fact it was a big hit.