Next, following a soup course of Salmorenjo topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, we moved onto the main course: grilled rib-eyes with romano beans and a corn salad on a bed of arugula, and . . .
1970 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Bello Estate ([Santa Cruz Mtns.] California): This would, today, be simply labeled as “Ridge Monte Bello,” but back in 1970, the wine wasn’t anywhere near as famous as it is today. Label states 13½% abv, but possibly higher.¹ The label also states that the wine would age for a couple of decades. However, at 46 years of age, this wine is remarkable – with all the classic hallmarks that has made Ridge Monte Bello one of the “grand crus” of California Cabernet Sauvignon – with loads of cassis, currants and red fruits combined with a light herbaceous tone and that classic earthiness and an underlayer of oak, with generous flavors and complexity on the palate; surprisingly vigorous and even somewhat youthful (the impression is of a wine 5-10 years of age, not 45-50!); a slight acid sharpness in the finish is the wine’s only fault, but clearly not so much so that it makes this wine anything less than a classic!
1970 Château Lynch Bages, 5me Cru, Pauillac (Bordeaux, France): My friend’s cellar is somewhat famous for its higher-than-average humidity, and it’s not uncommon for the label(s) on some of his wines to fall off, get moldy, or be eaten by banana slugs. This bottle was no exception, and – as always – the wine’s identity and vintage were confirmed by both capsule and cork. In contrast to the Ridge, while there is classic Cabernet “power” here, there is more refinement, more elegance, and more “class” here – an altogether seamless wine, which I cannot imagine being any better. Outstanding!
¹ Paul Draper once told me that, when their labels have the alcohol level stated by a decimal point, it is exact, whereas when it is indicated by a fraction, it was understated in hopes of avoiding the higher taxes (which would kick in at 14.01% abv).