Rodney Strong Zinfandel 1986 (Sonoma county) wine review by (PB)
This is an interesting–and instructive–story! I was in Boston with (NW) on a wine hunt and found this twenty year old Zin at the Brookline Liquor Mart. BLM is a really nice store with a huge selection of wines at all price points.
I found this bottle marked down to $16 from around $22 and the age of the wine intrigued me. Try finding a 20 year old Zin of any stripe but this one was just a very normal, $5 bottle of table wine when it was released; one which the Wine Spectator gave a 79 rating to.
I grabbed the bottle and took it to a guy who I believe was one of the owners of BLM. I thought maybe he might know something about the wine I didn’t because there is no way anyone in their right mind would buy a 20 year old everyday wine at any price. They just aren’t made to age and the likelihood of it being even potable is remote. Most wines are meant to be drunk within 5 years (for reds) and even less for most whites. I didn’t really care to just throw $15 down the sink.
I asked, “What are the odds that this wine will even be drinkable?” The man took the bottle and held it up to light and pondered it. I was skeptical about what seemed to be a “show” more than anything. “The guy said, something like, “It still has a pretty decent red and not much draw down.” I said, “You can see that through the tinted glass?” He didn’t say anything.
I asked again, “So is it going to be drinkable?” He said, “It could be?” Talk about a non-answer.
Som while skeptical and disappointed by what I thought was a less than straight forward answer, I thought, for $15 it will be an education anyway.
Well, (NW) was up for the weekend and we opened this 20 year old (almost 21 year old) run of the mill wine.
Here is the review:
The cork took some effort to remove as it pretty well disintegrated on removal. The color is brick red with amber touches at the rim the typical mark of age and yet it looked better than I expected. The bouquet actually was surprisingly okay though light with some spice hints and very light fruit notes. It is a really mellow bouquet. This too was all positive so far...
In the mouth, I was expecting to have to spit but to my surprise, it too was truly “round,” subtle, nothing remarkable of course accept that it was even drinkable after all these years. I was impressed! That this Sonoma County wine lasted all this time is remarkable and quite unusual.
So, if you find a wine of this caliber, and it is this old, pass it up unless you are willing to write off the experience to education because chances are, you will not fare as well as we did.
I am still skeptical of the man’s response to me at BLM but in light of the outcome I have to give benefit of doubt. Lastly–this wine was rated 79 points on its release 2 decades ago. I would give this wine today, a better score than that! . So raise a glass to the adventure that wine is.