Although my 55th birthday actually was on Wednesday, we ended up having to delay celebrating because my dear wife took a tumble and busted her tibia. Now that things have settled down, however, we decided to celebrate tonight. I did a roast beef tenderloin with Bearnaise sauce, potatoes au gratin, and sauteed mushrooms. Yum. (Tomorrow night I plan to have a rack of lamb and mushroom risotto for my birthday dinner part 2. If the warden ever asks me what I want for my last meal, it's going to be tough to decide between these two.)
I poured the 1995 Ridge Monte Bello,which is a blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. According to Robert Parker's 1998 review, Ridge winemaker "Paul Draper feels it is the biggest, brawniest, and most muscular Monte Bello of the 1990s, and in need of 10-15 more years of cellaring." I've been sitting on a half case since 2000 and finally opened one tonight, since it's now had the requisite 15 years of additional cellaring. Candidly, I think Draper underestimated the wine's need for time.
Although this bottle had thrown a lot of sediment, the wine remained a deep purple at the center fading to deep ruby at the rim (when the glass is tilted for viewing). No signs of being 18 years old (other than the cork crumbling when I tried removing it with a Screwpull, such that I ended up needing to use my butler's friend opener). Decanting and breathing for a half hour helped the bouquet open up, but it also was surprisingly youthful. Lots of black and red fruit associations, but few markers of maturity. Ditto the palate, which was also dominated by red and black fruit flavor associations. And tannins! It's still pretty brawny in that regard. So the rest of my bottles go to the back of the cellar for a couple more years. Indeed, I think I'll wait three more years until this wine is of legal drinking age.
Grade tonight: A- (with potential to rise)
Now for a Dunhill Peravia and a Dow 20 year old tawny port.