1996 Franus CCC Planchon. Extremely bricking with dried-blood edges and a touch cloudy. Nose of rubber bath-toy and chopped red bell peppers. Fat and meager and gone with an AL bite.
1997 Jory New Mexico. Brown and thin. Bright briary bouquet might have some promise. Full and rich with no AL, just burn rubber.
1996 Eric Ross RRV. Plastic and wet cardboard. But not ‘corked’ wet cardboard. Deep garnet with bricking edges. Squished bug. Cooked squished bug. Very odd nose. Celery. Celery in the bottom drawer of the fridge until it is light brown and watery. Really obnoxious. All tannin. Just tannin. Nothing else.
1999 Ravenswood Kunde Sonoma. Actually a garnet which could be headed ever-so-slightly into ruby. Garnet edges. Best colour so far. Spicy wet cinnamon muddle. Chalky-acidic and viral with definite fruit.
I’m giving them all an hour.
I have had numerous Zins which will age and HAVE aged at least as good as Cabs of this age. The likely culprit here is provenance. Any of these four–resting un-moved since release–would most likely show far better, but the fact they spent over half their life on a wine-shop shelf definitely contributed to their short-comings. This tasting was not meant to be an indictment of Zinfandel’s limited ageability, but merely a fun contrast of four orphan bottles found recently and needing to be opened.
Franus: Ripe and crispy with baked bread and petrichor. Smells like crab-meat. Ripe and round in the mouth with bright acidity. Nowhere near as *gone* as initially observed. A nice banana-peel and lychee. Quite drinkable and enjoyable. Fruit hang in almost to end of tannin. 14-3 ♦
Jory: Really nice bright black cherry fruit first-and-foremost. Rich and sweet despite the brown colour and relative thin-ness. Stemmy and concentrated. In the mouth, fruit parallel to nose: Bright cherry lollipop with huge acid almost charading as alcohol-burn although this is NOT possible. Round and full, still smelling of water-balloon but massive deep forest-floor humus. Tannins almost non-existent, but acid still relevant. 12-5 ♦♦
Ross: Going nowhere good fast. Or slow. Easily the dog of the bunch. Smells like an electrical fire and an old rubber glove. Tastes like licking a green penny. There’s a thick, viscous nuance to the bouquet which smacks of rotten refried beans or something. Wallpaper glue. Fruit oxidized and maderized and washed up on harsh bitter tannins. 13-3 ◊
Ravenswood: Spicy and dark, clearly showing the most vibrant *drinkability* of the four. Beautiful minerality and vegetal nuances with very little oxidation on the full plum-and-cranberry fruit. Shockingly acidic and chewy tannins at the forefront of still-amazing fruit. Clean and crisp but bitter over-powering what fruit is left. Elegant, but clearly fading and fruit definitely takes a back seat. 14-8 ♦♦